Back to (Dental) School: Part 1

By: Aimee Parado (TUSDM ‘24) and Sweta Parikh (UNE ’23)

It’s that time of the year again: back to school! Maybe you’re returning for another semester of dental school, or maybe you’re a D1 beginning the journey. The start of a new school year is exciting—there is a whole year ahead for learning, growth, and new memories. 

The back-to-school season is also your chance to start fresh. It’s the perfect time to try something new. No matter where you are in your education, it is never too early or too late to experiment with a new routine or develop a new habit. Jessica Murphree (HSDM ‘23), Swati Gupta (BU ‘23), and Diandra A. Jones (TUSDM ‘25) share their back-to-school tips with District 1 Pearls. Our first post focuses on developing a routine. We asked students about staying organized and setting up a daily routine as well as a morning routine specifically. 

Photo by Jess Bailey Designs from Pexels

How do you stay organized?

Swati Gupta: It is very important to stay organized in dental school. So many subjects and pre-clinical and clinical sessions can take a huge toll on not only your mind but also life in general. It is important to maintain a professional and personal life balance. Google Calendar helps me stay up to date with all the tasks I have. I have clubbed my personal tasks and professional tasks into the same calendar, and it is very useful. Also, I try to make sure that I devote time to my family on weekends and have a balance.

Diandra A. Jones: I use multiple calendars and planners to help me stay organized. I also have plenty of lists in my notes app.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

What is your daily routine? What tips do you have for setting up a daily routine?

Jessica Murphree: My daily routine often starts differently, but I try to finish everything I need to do for the day before leaving campus. Try to leave school at school, and remember that some things can wait until tomorrow!

Swati Gupta: I have just started my advanced dental program at Boston University. It is a very good program and a very hectic one too. We have quizzes every week on most of the subjects taught, and it is very important to keep up with the material taught in the classes and pre-clinical sessions. It can be very stressful to have so much material to learn and remember. But I have always followed a strategy taught by my mother since my school days, and this strategy helped me cope with stress in my previous dental school in India.

After coming back from dental school, I relax every day for at least an hour and try to unblock my mind. Relaxing could be anything from just not doing anything to exercising, cooking, yoga, or even listening to music and having a cup of coffee. After that, I try to just go through the lectures we had one by one and make notes of what I understood from that class. It is a bit time-consuming but very helpful for the exams. I do the same for pre-clinic sessions. Every weekend, I try to practice the lab work that was taught and revise my concepts. So far, it has helped me a lot.

Diandra A. Jones: My daily routine starts with me waking up by 6:30. I have quiet time for about 30 minutes before I prepare for the day. I usually don’t make breakfast; instead, I just have a cup of tea while reviewing lectures and my notes to prepare for class. Currently, studying takes up the bulk of my days. I do make time to cook lunch and dinner, as well as go to my gym for at least 30 minutes to an hour.

When setting a daily routine, you definitely have to be intentional and realistic about how you want your days to flow. You also have to give yourself grace when there are times you don’t follow your scheduled routine.

What is your morning routine? What tips do you have for setting up a morning routine?

Swati Gupta: I am a morning person, and that is why it is very important for me to start my day nicely, for the whole day to go as planned. I wake up very early around 5:30 a.m. and start my day with tea. I just go through the school calendar and pack my bag accordingly. I carry my lunch, which is mostly fruits. My advice for a morning routine is to be mentally prepared for the next day when you sleep at night so that the next morning you know what you need to pack or read. This helps you to be relaxed and start your day fresh.

Diandra A. Jones: Setting up a morning routine and sticking to it definitely takes time and discipline. I would recommend using alarms. For example, an alarm to wake up, an alarm to finish working out, an alarm to leave the house. I believe this will be helpful in being mindful about not wasting time in the morning and being intentional about sticking to your personal schedule.

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