Preparing for Dental School Graduation

By: Savanah Craig

If you’re anything like me, getting into dental school was the goal. I never really thought about what would happen after dental school graduation.

From a young age, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in Dentistry, so my path was dictated by what I
thought would allow me to get into dental school.

How To Prepare for Dental School Graduation

Now, I am only a few months away from graduation. My classmates and I are faced with several different options for how to make a career out of this education we’ve spent so many years of our lives pursuing.

In addition to decisions regarding our future careers, we are also still managing our dental school responsibilities and trying to enjoy the last few months that we are all together. We are a group of high achievers (with a touch of perfectionism) and we are experiencing a major transition period, and I think there are a few lessons we can use to help us survive this unique time in our lives.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Dentistry is unique because there are so many different pathways to choose from and still have a very successful career.

Dental school can be a highly competitive environment, and with graduation approaching, it can be tempting to compare the path you’ve chosen with what your classmates have decided to pursue.

Some people choose to specialize. Others choose to seek employment after graduation. You can be an associate, or you could become a practice owner.

However, there is no perfect way to be a dentist, and we are not being compared or graded on our decisions any longer. We have come so far together, and now, instead of comparing our choices with others, we need to be excited that our future colleagues have found an opportunity that fits their career goals and life ambitions.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

It would serve us well to remember that the flexibility and uniqueness inherent in the dental profession is why many of us chose this career path.

Celebrate Every Win, No Matter How Small

Each year of your dental school journey is filled with hoops to jump through, and the final year of school is no different. It can be daunting to stare down the list of tasks and requirements to complete.

Often, I catch myself checking something off of my to-do list and saying “on to the next.” It can be hard to stop and celebrate the 2 fillings you did today when you still need to do 10 more to complete your graduation requirement. Yet, that’s exactly what we should be doing.

We need to take a moment and realize how far we’ve come and remember how hard it was to pick up a drill for the first time four years ago. Delivering a set of dentures, finishing your last exam, and passing your regional board exam all deserve a celebration!

Don’t let the monotony and stress of dental school take away your achievements, no matter how small they seem!

Stop and Smell the Roses

It is easy to be focused on the finish line and it’s safe to say that most of us are excited to be done with dental school. Yet, this is an experience we will never get to have again.

Many of my classmates and friends are moving away from one another. We won’t get to eat lunch with each other every day or have the bond of shared experiences connecting us in the same way anymore.

It is easy to wish away dental school and only focus on what is coming after graduation, but we should take time to live in the moment. Take time to chat with faculty members, attend your graduation dinner, stay up a little late laughing with your friends. The days are long, but the years go by so quickly!

Appreciate all the moments with the friends dental school brought into your life while they still live close by!

Up Next: You’re More Than Just a Dental Student

Photo by Ekrulila

Savanah Craig

Savanah Craig

Savanah Craig is a graduate of Baldwin Wallace University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology. She is currently a 2022 D.D.S. Candidate at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry. She will be pursuing a General Practice Residency in Columbia, SC following graduation. In her free time, Savanah enjoys reading, exploring new restaurants, and traveling.