Amanda Uyehara, a fourth-year student at Touro College of Dental Medicine in Westchester, New York, on patience, adaptability and the mind-clearing virtues of a regular workout.
ARE YOU STUDYING for general dentistry or a particular specialty?
General. I like how it encompasses a little bit of everything, from restorative work to oral surgery. That variety helps break the monotony and keeps dentistry interesting for me.
What’s been the most fun thing about dental school? The most difficult?
Working with my patients during third and fourth year, and doing clinical procedures for the first time. Providing for my patients’ needs and bringing them happiness is what motivates me. I still remember the first set of extractions I did like it was yesterday. I was nervous but also pumped.
The most difficult thing about school is finding a balance between studying, clinicals, boards and personal time. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed with the number of things constantly being thrown at you; often you feel defeated. After a long day of clinic, you’re mentally and physically drained. It’s even more frustrating [given the] pandemic: We’re playing a game of catch-up, but with our hands tied behind our backs.
What advice do you have for first-year students?
Find what works best for you. Everyone has their own method of studying and their routine to keep them going. You must figure out this routine early on, because it’s nonstop almost daily exams during D1 and D2.
Any extracurricular activities?
Going to the gym was the thing I used to decompress. The gym was where I spent the majority of my free time, pretty much, if I wasn’t studying or cooking.
I sought a path that allows me to help others and also serves as an outlet for using creativity to provide health care.”
Plans after graduation?
I’m planning to work alongside my father, who is also a general dentist, for a bit. Eventually I’d like to open a private practice of my own down the road.
What first drew you to dentistry?
I see it as a unique field that offers a balance of everything I want in a career. I sought a path that not only allows me to help others but also serves as an outlet for me to use creativity and manual dexterity to provide health care. With general dentistry in particular, I like how I can build long-lasting patient relationships that I wouldn’t be able to have as a specialist.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in dental school?
Patience and adaptation are key, especially in the clinic. There are so many variables in the clinic that we can’t anticipate or plan for that can ruin an entire treatment plan. It’s even more frustrating when you put a ton of effort into a case only for it not to go the way you planned. It’s easy to let this get to you. The best thing you can do is adapt to the situation, be patient and move forward.