The question that is on all of our minds when it comes to the D4s is of course, what are your plans for after graduation? For Lisa this is easy! She will be staying here at UAB for a periodontics residency. This is no easy feat as residency programs are getting tougher and tougher to be accepted to so we applaud Lisa on this accomplishment.
Lisa first became exposed to perio during her undergraduate research studies on the mechanisms of bone resorption. “I didn't have a lot of exposure to dentistry prior to dental school,” says Lisa, “so my initial interests purely came from shadowing different dentists around town. I loved the surgeries and the idea that we can not only treat disease but also regrow tissues. Of course it also helped that we have an amazing perio department at UAB!”
With so many specialty options, it can be difficult to find the one that fits you the most. We asked Lisa if she had any suggestions for classes below on how to figure out their interests and how to pursue a residency. Lisa’s advice is to “go be a fly on the wall in different clinics at school whenever you have time. I also shadowed other specialties to narrow down my options. Having rotations at all of the clinics during D3 year was very beneficial. Dentistry is a very diverse profession, which is why I think it's really important to be certain about specializing. The idea of mastering a skill is very appealing, but pursuing one specialty basically means giving up all the others. So take the time to list out the pros and the cons. Talk to different faculty and current residents to gain a good sense of the reality of perio and not just the positives.”
Of course, with every residency comes the dreaded application process. Juggling schoolwork and preparation for licensure and boards while filling out applications does not seem like an easy task. “The online applications were so unnecessarily confusing,” says Lisa. “Not all programs participated in MATCH and not all programs took the ADEA PASS ‘common application.’ I tried to make my life easier by applying to only MATCH programs, but one program wanted their own separate application, not PASS, and another program wanted another application in addition to PASS. Thank goodness I had another classmate applying with me. We got through it together. Once the interviews started, I actually started enjoying the process! I visited old friends in cities I had interviews in and also met a lot of future colleagues along the way. One of the interviewees I met ended up being my future co-resident!”
Lisa was very invovled with ASDA during her years at UAB so we wanted to find out about some of her favorite memories she would take with her to residency. According to Lisa, “There are so many! Crawfish boil is probably one of my favorite ASDA social events. I usually end up eating the delicious crawfish for hours. Aside from all of our chapter's events, the district and national conferences are always a blast. Being around people who truly appreciate the dental profession really gave me the motivation to get through the harder parts of dental school. The first and most memorable conference I attended was District 5's conference in New Orleans my D2 year. That was the first time I met dental professionals outside of Alabama. It's so easy to connect with people when you already have a lot in common! The last national event I attended was the ADA/ASDA Lobby Day in D.C. with veteran dentists and leaders of Alabama. It was quite an eye opening experience.” Alabama ASDA has a lot to offer its students so be sure to check out all the great events going on!
Finally, we asked Lisa if she thought that being a part of ASDA will help her in the future. “Most definitely,” she says. “I am a pretty social /love making new friends kind of person, but my ultimate goal is to have my own private practice one day. That thought always seemed kind of lonely, but through my involvements in ASDA and organized dentistry, I know now that dentistry is not a solitary profession. There is a large network of dentists from all over the country who attend national/state/local events to help each other out. The first time I attended a practice management course was at an ASDA event. Someone once told me that once we graduate, the actual practice of dentistry is the easiest part. It is everything else that is difficult. By continuing to stay involved with the ADA or another dentistry organization, I know I will save myself from making a lot of mistakes in the future because I will have mentors who can help guide me in the right direction.”
Thanks for all the great advice Lisa! It is clear that ASDA and organized dentistry has a lot to offer us both while we are still in dental school and beyond graduation. Dental school can challenge us to our breaking point at times but we have to remember that we are not alone in our endeavor to pursue this profession. As Lisa told us, “Dental school has been a lot of fun BUT… only 88 days until graduation!” Keep trudging along everyone!