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Jamie Royal, 3rd Year Dental Student

Jamie Royal spoke to the ADA while enrolled as a third-year dental student at University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

6:30 a.m. The alarm goes off and I start the day with cold cereal in front of Saved by the Bell. My best friend catches the bus a few stops before my apartment, so she calls to let me know it’s time to run downstairs. Lots of students walk or take the bus in Philly—parking is a hassle!

8:00 a.m. We rotate through different classes. Today I have geriatrics—caring for the oral health of older patients. This week we are working on a group project—analyzing a hypothetical patient, looking at pictures, reading the medical history. We’ll propose three different treatment plans, detail the pros and cons of each approach, and then present the case for the rest of the class.

9:30 a.m. I race to clinic to get ready for my 10 a.m. patient. I’ve ordered all my supplies the night before, so those are waiting for me in my locker, but if something is missing, I have to track it down. We have a morning huddle—eight other students and our instructor—to discuss our patients for the day.

10:00 a.m. Instructors are in the clinic the whole time, but they aren’t by my side every moment—they check in at each phase of the treatment. So for example, I’ll drill a prep, then have it checked, fill the prep, then have it checked again, polish, then have it checked. It could take three hours to complete a filling!

1:00 p.m. Officially lunch is between 1 and 2, but realistically I eat a salad for thirty minutes, then set up for my afternoon patient. While I’m eating I look over my schedule. Even though I have a Blackberry, I still use a paper planner—I like crossing things off.

2:00 p.m. Time for afternoon clinic. After taking an impression of my patient’s prepared tooth, and fabricating an acrylic shell, I’m carving the temporary crown chairside. It’s almost like making a sculpture on-the-spot, shaping the acrylic so that it looks and functions just like a natural tooth. Dentistry isn’t just science, it’s also an art.

5:00 p.m. Once I’m home I definitely need half-an-hour in front of the TV. Then I either go for a run or hit the gym. I’m not one of those people who loves exercising, but it helps me stay in balance.

7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. I’m lucky—friends of mine from undergrad live in my building, so we take turns going to each other’s apartment to fix dinner. We’re all in some kind of grad school, so we live on a budget.

If I have clinic the next day, I call my patients the night before to remind them of their appointments. If I’m proposing a complex treatment plan, I write up all the options—it’s easier for patients to decide when they see choices on paper. There are fewer tests in third year, so I don’t study as much, but I’m applying to a residency in Orthodontics, and that takes up a lot of my free time.