How is the COVID-19 Pandemic Affecting Dental Students?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects on many industries including dentistry. This is one perspective in a series of blogs on how the stay-at-home order and the virus is affecting individuals in Denver’s dental community. Do you have a story you would like to share? Email email@example.com.
By: University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine, 3rd year dental student
Across the spectrum of dentistry, all of us have been impacted by COVID-19 in different ways. There have been many adjustments and challenges faced over the last few weeks. I can’t speak for all dental students, but I hope to highlight some of the things I have heard or witnessed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the largest changes has been the transition from in-person classes to online classes using Zoom. For me, the transition has been relatively seamless. Faculty are still able to present their slides, answer questions and ensure everyone is attending class. It is also much more convenient to take notes in your pajamas and have the coffee machine ten feet away. I have always advocated for more online learning because it minimizes in-class distractions. I also think there has been more “in-class” participation because people are more comfortable typing a question, as opposed to asking it in front of the class.
Out of all the classes at the dental school, I think the current DS4 students have been most impacted. Many students were in the final weeks of clinic and finishing up the last of their graduation requirements. The WREB clinical board exam and graduation ceremony also had to be postponed. Many students are in a very uncertain situation with a lot of questions. When will clinic reopen? How will clinic run? When will WREB be rescheduled? When is graduation happening? How will this impact my job search or residency program? There aren’t answers to a lot of these questions right now, and it’s hard to say when there might be definitive solutions. I feel for the DS4’s and hope there is clarity in the coming weeks and months for them.
I am a DS3 and the amount of online class we have each day has only been 1-3 hours, leaving a lot of free time. I have been doing my best to take full advantage of the extra time. Most of us are planning to take NBDE Part 2 this summer so I have been able to study a few hours each day for this. In addition, I’ve used the time to reflect on my education and research residency programs. Some of my fellow DS3s are using this time to work on personal statements, CVs and ask for recommendation letters. It’s also nice to break up class and studying throughout the day to take the dog on a walk or exercise.
While there have been many disappointments and challenges over the last few weeks, there was also a huge victory for dental students. The Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE) announced that the Dental Licensure Objective Structured Clinical Examination (DLOSCE) will be released this year for use by dental boards with a target of June 2020. This is huge news as it eliminates the use of patients in the examination process and is a large step in the right direction for dental licensure.
This has been a challenging time for all of us as dental students, but it is encouraging to see some positive changes. We are eager to get back to seeing patients at school and making further progress towards earning our degrees.