Connie Wang, a D2 at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, on aesthetic appeal, the virtues of stress management and why it doesn’t pay— for dentists or anyone else—to plan too far ahead.
WHAT HAS BEEN the most difficult aspect of dental school for you?
Developing a new style of learning. The manual-dexterity portion—it’s one thing to study and quiz yourself for a test you’ve been doing your whole life; it’s another to develop the endurance to do prep after prep for hours in the lab.
What drew you to dentistry in the first place?
I was formerly in pharmacy school, and I felt unfulfilled by the lack of creativity in the field. I love arts and crafts and the act of creating, which is important in dentistry. I love the different materials and techniques used in dentistry—it’s the perfect mix of art and science, as well as business and engineering. I once thought about pursuing art school, but I felt it lacked the purpose that I found in health care. Dentistry was a perfect balance for me. There’s also just something about teeth that I love and find fascinating. It’s so cool how much influence teeth have. I love the impact I can have on patients through their teeth, whether self-confidence and aesthetics or pain relief.
Do you have a key piece of advice or two for first-year students?
The list goes on and on, but what it comes down to is that you can figure everything out—go with the flow. There will be times that school gets overwhelming, but you can’t let yourself overwork and burn out. There will also be times where you might look around and feel like you’re struggling with hand skills compared to your classmates. You can’t let that get to you either. Developing good stress-management habits early on will take you much further.
What’s the most fun part of the experience?
Making new friends, exploring the city of Boston and learning so many exciting new things.
Any extracurricular activities?
I’m a member of [the Tufts chapter of the American Student Dental Association] and District ASDA, I’m doing a research fellowship—and I love running my Instagram and YouTube page, @thepharmadental.
You’re on track to graduate in 2023. Do you have any sense yet of what you might do thereafter?
I’ve come to realize that if I plan something too far in advance, it never goes the way I think. Now I plan to go wherever the air-water syringe blows.
I love the impact I can have on patients through their teeth, whether with self-confidence and aesthetics or pain relief.”
What have you learned that you think of as especially important?
How to stay cool under pressure. There will be tons of practicals where something doesn’t go your way, and the most valuable thing you can learn as a future provider is how to stay calm and make smart decisions in moments of crisis. That’s part of why I love this craft so much and feel so honored to be part of it.