Alicia Briscoe, a third-year student at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, on constant learning, getting one’s “dental hands” and remembering to go easy on yourself.
THE MOST FUN you’ve had in dental school?
Learning about the various aspects of dentistry—how it’s much more than just “teeth”—and the addition of us using our hands. I know that once I start seeing patients this year, I’ll love the patient interaction, growing with them as they receive treatment and bringing them good oral health.
Most difficult aspect of dental school?
The seemingly endless exams and practicums.
What advice would you give first-year dental students?
Never compare, do your best and have fun. Everyone’s journey is different; everyone has different things that they bring to the table. There’s no “ideal” student. Comparing can be the thief of joy and growth. Accepting that doing your best is not always going to land you the “A” grade is something I still struggle with. But you can’t do better than your best, and if you put in the work, you have every reason to be proud of yourself. Lastly, having fun is so important. Our brains need a rest. Make sure to tend to your mental, physical and emotional health.
Never compare, do your best and have fun. Everyone’s journey is different; everyone has different things that they bring to the table.”
Are you part of any extracurricular activities?
I played volleyball for two years and participated in two kinds of research, and I’m currently active in a variety of community-service events and clubs.
Plans after graduation?
Right now, I’m hoping to transition into an orthodontic residency. Fingers crossed!
What drew you to dentistry in the first place?
The fact that you can change someone’s life holistically in a seemingly small way and be remembered for a lifetime. Someone’s smile is far more than just looking pretty. We can help improve oral health, which can then improve overall health. When you’re not confident with your smile, it can affect your mental and emotional health. Luckily, in our profession, we can attack all three and improve the health and confidence of our patients.
The most important thing you’ve learned so far?
Be patient with yourself. Not everyone was “born with a drill” or is super book-smart. Understand and accept that we make mistakes, and this is the perfect time for that. Our “hands” will come; the mental connections will come. We have to be patient and allow things to come together throughout this journey. Learning never stops!