Several times a year I have a kid following me around the office. It’s usually a senior in high school that wants to get a taste of dentistry.
Sometimes they’re a former patient, sometimes not. But they’re always interested in becoming a dentist and I always get the same question: What did it take to get here?
“It’s your own Groundhog Day, kid. With lots of peanut butter and ramen noodles, that’s what it takes.”
And I ALWAYS get the same puzzled reaction.
Look I’m no genius but I do have a strong work ethic and I knew I wanted to be a Pediatric Dentist when I was in college. My undergrad degree is in Economics and I had the bare minimum of hard sciences to get into dental school. I had a great time in college, I made lots of friends, went to some football and basketball games and did some of that other college stuff. But once into dental school, I dived into the work. And suddenly nothing else mattered. And I mean nothing. Because medicine doesn’t tolerate grades such as a C minus.
Those four years of dental school were nothing short of my own movie, replayed on a daily basis. Listen, learn, study, repeat. Listen, learn, study, repeat. Listen, learn, study, repeat. And so on. Remember, I’m no genius so in order to make the grades I had to give up my life for those six years (two years of specialized training plus those four years of dental school) and that meant I rarely went out to eat, I didn’t travel, I just studied, and studied, and studied. And through all that studying I found out that my past meant nothing. So what if I’d been captain of the diving team, or knitting team, or parcheesi team back in high school or college? None of it mattered. In my study groups I had star football players, beauty queens, and valedictorians and the only thing that mattered to us was our last exam. And who had some peanut butter. Now those friends are super important because when you’re done with college, you’ll have a built-in network of dentist nerds. But the only activity you’re going to do with them is study, and maybe enjoy some ramen.
See the thing about the peanut butter (and the ramen noodles) is it took the hassle out of shopping for groceries and cooking groceries, which can be time consuming. And when you’re in dental school all that should matter is studying. Period. Those commodities are also cheap, and it’s not like I had any sort of money anyway.
So there we have it. My advice for every one of the kids that has ever followed me around and been star-struck by a bald headed Pediatric Dentist (I know, that’s crazy) and thought they too would like to be a Kid’s Dentist goes something like this:
Forget your prior accomplishment because they no longer matter.
Study your butt off.
Learn to love Ramen noodles and peanut butter.
Sunday is no longer a day to sleep in or be lazy.
Study your butt off.
School is a job so treat it as such.
So to all the 17 year-olds that want to be a dentist (or be really good at any occupation) I wish I had better news but that’s what it takes to make it in my world.
And as always, if you or someone you know is looking for a Pediatric Dentist, especially one that studied his butt off in dental school, please send them our way, or ask them to click here.
And have a great summer studying your butt off.