By Gabi Larrea and Brett Silvers
One of the pillars of ASDA’s Wellness initiative is Emotional Wellness. As dental students it’s very easy to get caught up in our day-to-day routines, running around from classes or patients to get through our busy weeks, but we cannot forget the importance of Emotional Wellness. It is just as important to take care of our mental health as it is to take care of our physical health. Otherwise, we cannot be fully present to those around us.
For this Wellness Wednesday post we decided to come up with 5 ways to start off your morning in a healthy mindset!
Happy New Year fellow teeth people! To start off the new year we are featuring Anna Marie Ronderos, a D2 who is a gifted clog dancer. What is clog dancing you ask? It’s a form of step dance with a focus on very intricate footwork. It is somewhat similar to tap dancing in that the routines are made up of variations of rhythmic tap sounds.
Anna Marie was in the 4th grade when she started clogging. “I did all styles of dance before this and wanted to try something new!” she says. “I started competing beginning in the 5th grade with a team called Dynamic Edition and continued until 9th grade. I continued to clog for talent shows and different competitions ever since. It is a fun mix of tap/jazz and hip-hop! It is not normally what people think of when they hear clogging. Normally people associate is with Irish step dancing or line dancing to country music, so it is very cool to surprise people when they ask me to clog or show them videos.”
Clogging is very big in the southeast and the competition is fierce. Anna Marie participated in several clogging competitions throughout her career and even competed in the clogging National Championship. In fact, she won this competition! “It’s my favorite memory of clogging, we got rings and everything!” she says. “However the ‘national’ part of champion is not so national seeing as though only people in the southeast really clog! But I will take the title haha."
The entire school was able to witness Anna Marie’s clogging talent last year at the annual student Variety Show. She wowed the crowd with her stylish costume and cool routine. “I loved clogging in the Variety Show this past year and I hope to continue to do it every year!” We are all excited to see her perform again this year!
Clogging is not the easiest talent to learn but it could be a fun new style of dance for all those dancers out there! Anna Marie’s advice is to “build up some cardio stamina before you try to clog! It’s a workout. No joke!” Whatever your dance level may be, it’s fun to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. Who knows, you could become a great clogger too!
Extra, extra, read all about it! Check out The Handpiece to learn about everything the Alabama ASDA chapter has been up to since the start of this semester. There have been so many successful events this semester and exciting new updates. Thank you to our PR committee and all of our contributing writers!
An alternative, inexpensive way to help you boost energy levels and ease anxiety is with essential oils! The benefits of natural aromas on our emotional and mental health are often underestimated. Here are some scents that have been commonly used for centuries:
• Peppermint – improves focus, boosts energy, alleviates muscle pain and headaches
• Rosemary – uplifting energy, improves brain function and memory
• Sage – memory enhancing, speeds metabolism, energizing
• Lavender – stress reducing, calming, helps with insomnia
• Eucalyptus – invigorating, improves respiratory issues, enhances concentration
• Sandalwood – grounding, eases tension, calming, relieves headaches
• Rose – helps with depression and anxiety, destressing, regulate sleep
• Citrus – uplifting, immunity boosting, cleansing, boosts creativity
Dilution is important with the highly concentrated essential oils so use a diffuser or a few drops in your bath. The easiest way is to use it topically by using a carrier oil (olive/coconut/almond oil) to place a drop or two on pulse points! There is increasing evidence of aromatherapy’s mood-altering effects, which is due to the part of the limbic system that’s linked to emotions and memories. Definitely check the label to make sure it’s high quality oil rather than synthetic. Self-care is key in our super busy lives!
Carolina Braga and Thieu Vo, D1s, both use a diffuser while studying or before sleeping. Carolina also makes an essential oils roll-on!
Author: Hema Patidar, Class of 2022
Keaton says her favorite memory from being on the track/cross country team at Troy was all of the close friendships she made and the high level of intensity in competition. “It was an amazing feeling when all of my hard work from practice showed through at the end of the week in our races,” says Keaton. “Having all my closest friends with me through every practice and race, working hard and getting better together definitely made for the greatest memories over the four years!”
Running is a great stress reliever as well as a great way to get exercise. While Keaton is much busier now that she is in dental school, she says she does her best to run as often as she can. “I still try to run at least 3-4 times a week,” says Keaton. “School definitely gets busy, but sometimes a good run is an awesome stress reliever during a crazy week!” Keaton also uses running as a way to connect and build new friendships with her classmates. She frequently runs in the Trak Shak 5K each week and also ran alongside her classmates this past Saturday in the Miles for Smiles 5K. These are two events that anyone in the school can be a part of and are an excellent way to get some exercise.
Anyone can run! All it takes is a little motivation and a positive attitude. Keaton’s advice for anyone who wants to start running is “to just get out there and run! Take it day by day, set goals and increase your distance and pace when you feel ready.”
Thanks for reading!
Author: Kelsey Gwin, Class of 2021
Tanner first became interested in research while attending Utah State University for his undergraduate studies. While Utah State had ample opportunities for research, Tanner explains it was not exactly a priority for undergraduates. Despite this, Tanner decided to major in biochemistry and joined a lab researching symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria. So how exactly did Tanner go from researching bacteria to wanting to become a dentist? He was, in fact, initially interested in dentistry but along the way discovered he loved science and research and was not willing to compromise either of them. “The professor I worked with encouraged creativity and let me explore on my own,” says Tanner. “This made research and discovery enjoyable since I really owned my research experience! Because of this, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in combination with dental training.”
The question that must now be on everyone’s mind is how long does it take to complete both a DMD and a Ph.D.? So far, Tanner has spent 3 years in the UAB Graduate of Biomedical Science Ph.D. program working on his dissertation. Tanner explained “the first year consists of lab rotations and selection, basic science coursework, and developing a project. Since then I have spent most of my time working on that project. Currently, I have a few small experiments and dissertation writing to complete my Ph.D.” For his dissertation, he has been studying how changes in DNA packaging and organization in stem cells affects differentiation to osteoblasts. His work is very important for understanding potential causes and solutions for bone diseases like osteoporosis.
Tanner just started dental school this year and will graduate with the class of 2022. However, Tanner interviewed three years ago with the class of 2019, the current D4s that will graduate in May. He interviewed with the intent of taking more time to pursue his Ph.D. first before starting any dental school training. “When I interviewed, I was aware that I wouldn't be joining a class for a number of years,” explains Tanner. “Other programs are set up different, but UAB sticks with Ph.D. first!” If you are a D4 reading this, it must be hard to believe that you were accepted to UAB almost three years ago. Imagine getting accepted and waiting three years to even begin dental school!
Tanner is a very hard worker but he has not earned the title of Dr. just yet. He says “I will complete my remaining work for my dissertation during my dental school training and breaks!” It takes a lot of perseverance to be willing to sacrifice time away from family and friends in the pursuit of two very challenging degrees. Tanner is clearly very passionate about his work but also explains that maintaining a healthy life-work balance has been crucial to his success. “I am creative with my time,” says Tanner. “I come in early or work with my mice during lunch or after class. I rarely come in on weekends so I can spend time with my wife and kids! I try to make good use of my class time to get as much of the material down as I can, then I study in the evenings and early mornings. Just make sure to keep a healthy balance, it goes a long way toward maintaining productivity!”
Getting involved with research is a great way to enhance your dental school experience. While it may seem daunting to add a huge research project on top of all the classes we have to take, Tanner says it is possible! His best piece of advice is “finding the right lab and project is really important. You need to be interested and care about what you are doing to make it work.”
When he graduates, Tanner would like to stay in academics so he can spend most of his time doing research. He says “Ideally, I would like to work in a faculty practice in a dental school several days a week then spend the rest of my time doing research.”
Currently, he is the president-elect of the National Student Research Group of the American Association for Dental Research. He is clearly very involved with the greater research community and says he would love to answer any questions people may have about research, finding labs or projects, or how to get involved in other ways! We are very fortunate to have him as a classmate and future colleague and wish him the best with his research endeavors.
Author: Kelsey Gwin, Class of 2021
Most dentists will agree that having good dental hygienists is a very important factor in establishing a successful dental practice. They see most of our patients more often than we do! Lisa says her favorite part about being a dental hygienist was the relationships she was able to form with her patients. “It was so rewarding knowing that every day I could make a positive impact on overall community health one person at a time,” explains Lisa. “There was not a day that went by that I didn’t feel like I had helped someone in some way and to me that is one of the most important goals to achieve in any health profession.”
Although Lisa loved being a dental hygienist, she realized she could do so much more to help her patients if she became a dentist. She recalls one specific patient who made a big influence on her decision to go to dental school; “I will never forget I had one patient who was so embarrassed to smile because she had never had her teeth cleaned. After her appointment, she starting crying and hugged me because she was so happy her teeth looked better. This moment really impacted me because I realized as a dentist I could do so much more for other patients like her. I realized I could not only improve oral hygiene and oral health but I could also help restore function and aesthetics to patients who needed it.”
Going to hygiene school before dental school certainly gave Lisa an advantage when it came to many aspects of dental school. Her program was great in that she had local anesthesia and nitrous oxide training, something dental students do on a daily basis once they get in clinic. She also mentioned that her dental hygiene training “has helped a lot with just the general knowledge of dental materials, assisting, dental anatomy, instrumentation and working with patients. Overall, I am really thankful I have had the opportunity to work as a dental hygienist and assistant prior to entering dental school.”
We asked Lisa if she had any advice for someone like her who isn’t quite sure what path in the dental field they want to take. Her best piece of advice is to do a lot of job shadowing at varying dental practices. “Each dental practice is different,” says Lisa, “and shadowing at various practices helps you get a better feel for what profession may be the most appealing to you. When trying to decide on a career path decide what is most important to you as career goals and choose a profession that best reflects those goals.”
It is always awesome to learn about the backgrounds of the students at UAB SOD. We all have different stories of what brought us to dental school and we thank Lisa for sharing her story with us this week!
Author: Kelsey Gwin, Class of 2021
The first Committee of the Month this new school year is our New Member Outreach team! Viviana Sepulveda and Danielle Ho planned an amazing Welcome Week last month for the new D1 class. There was a full week of fun programs to welcome everyone back to school, including yoga night, a lunch and learn, and our annual trivia night. Thank you for all your hard work!
All classes had a short summer break before diving back into school. Many students use this time to travel, spend time with family, and do their best to not think about school. Abbey says the most fun thing she did over her break was going to Santa Rosa Beach, FL with her parents and little sister. “I am from St. Louis, MO, so I don’t see my family often. My ideal vacation involves two things: 1) spending time with family and 2) reading uninterrupted on the beach for hours. I got to do a lot of both, so I was thrilled.”
There are some very exciting things happening at UAB SOD this year including the opening of the new Comprehensive Care Clinic on the second floor! The current D4 class endured the grueling process of construction last year so they are all very excited to finally use a shiny new clinic during their last year of dental school. When asked about her favorite part of the new clinic, Abbey says “I love that the clinic is finally a reflection of the quality of care we provide at the school. The new clinic helps us put our best foot forward, and my patients really enjoy being treated there. My favorite part about the clinic is that our coordinators are finally back on the same floor as us. I visit Ms. Teresa about 30 times a day, so I’m grateful that she’s so close!”
As far as plans for after graduation, Abbey is applying for a residency in Pediatric Dentistry. “If I’m lucky, I’ll spend two years after graduation learning how to take care of kiddos!” Abbey clearly has a passion for working with kids and we wish her the best with her application process!
Finally, we asked Abbey if she had any pearls of wisdom to pass along to the new D1 class. “Be kind to one another,” explains Abbey. “Dental school demands so much of us, and there is no way that I could make it without my classmates. They always make me laugh and have shown me an incredible amount of grace over the last three years. Taking the time to care for a classmate never goes unnoticed.”
Great advice Abbey! If you have any more questions, Abbey and the rest of the D4 class are a great resource. Dental school is tough, but if we lean on each other, we are sure to get through it.
Author: Kelsey Gwin, Class of 2021
Of course, there isn’t much time to work part time as a nail technician in dental school. However, Morgan says she still finds time to do her own nails when she can. “I find it relaxing and I seriously feel restored having a pretty manicure.” When asked what other activities she likes to do in her spare time, Morgan says, “I also unwind by hanging out with my friends and planning fun things to do that do not revolve around studying and other school activities. It’s important for me to carve out my time wisely to do things that remind me I am a person and a friend and not just a dental student! I make “me-time” a priority as well. I don’t think I’d be as successful of a dental student if I didn’t.”
Well, I think it’s safe to say we all know who to contact if we ever want a free manicure! Have a great week everyone!
Author: Kelsey Gwin, Class of 2021