Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I want to be a dentist

Hi all,

This funny story provided by my daughter. As you may know, she is eight.
In church, one of our pastors was doing the announcements before we started singing songs.
He was going over church services for Palm and Easter Sundays.
Then he holds up a paper bag and explains to the church body that this is the project we are going to be doing together.
He goes on to say that these bags are going to be at the doorway to take home. Each family was to take a bag home and fill them up with clothes and canned food. Then we will be giving them away to people that need them.
I looked over at my daughter and said, "Well, that is nice do you want to do this?"
She said, "Yeah (in a very excited tone)".
Then I leaned over and asked, "Do you have a lot of clothes you want to give away?"
She said, "WHAT?!!"
I said, "Yeah, you fill the bags up with clothes and you give it away to people that need it."
She said, "Oh, NO, I don't want to do this."
Turns out she thought we would be the ones receiving the bags.
Not as excited about the fact that she was going to have to give up something.
That's the Easter spirit Madison.

The book I am reading is called Father Joe. It was given to me by a friend. I am about 25% through it and so far it is not my style. It is suppose to be funny but so far nothing, I almost cracked a smile once.
I will let you know.

I am watching Pineapple Express. It is taking me forever to watch it because my wife won't watch it with me. So I have to watch it when I am alone and that is like never.
I had a friend tell me it was one of the worst movies he has ever seen.
I have to tell you, I am enjoying it. It is all about marijuana and I don't know why, I like pot humor.

I know I haven't mentioned How I Met Your Mother in awhile. I still like it.
I am now into 24 so we do that now.
Okay here it is, all the shows we TiVo. The Unit, Life, Chuck, ER, Flashpoint, Hell's Kitchen, and American Idol.
Now you are thinking this is a lot of TV, but if you watch it without commercials it goes so fast. You can watch three hours of TV in about one hour and fifteen minutes.
We watch two hours of American Idol in about 35 minutes. We listen to the singing and then the judges (except for Paula, I fast forward through her) and it goes so fast.
The American Idol judgement show...20 minutes tops.

I have a friend who has a son. His son is interested in dentistry.
Now this is not an informed decision on his part. I have to tell you that most people that are interested in dentistry don't know a thing about what being a dentist.
I can tell you when I went to dental school I had only been to three different offices my whole life. My fathers, my oral surgeons and my orthodontist.

Now how can we be informed if we don't get out there and see what it is all about.
I wanted to be a dentist because my dad seemed to a have a pretty good life.
That was it....that was how I based my life altering decision.
I, now, recognize all the great thing this profession possesses.
The opportunity to heal. The opportunity to work with people. You have a talent that can be given away...in this country and out of this country. You can pick your own hours. You can work in air-conditioner all day.
This is the type of profession that is what you make it. If you want a high stress environment you can make it that way. If you want a fun environment...go right ahead.
So I go into college with absolutely no idea what being a dentist is all about and I am going to spend the next 8 years making this uninformed decision happen.

Now, my friends kid is as smart as they come. He was the valedictorian of his class and really didn't have to work hard.
Now he has picked a very hard university to get his undergraduate degree. Very hard to get in.
Only one problem...all the people going to this school were valedictorians.
Oh and he clepped out (Do they still use this word? He took AP classes in high school and doesn't have to take it in college) of basic chemistry.
So he is in his second semester of freshman year and is taking Organic Chemistry and the second semester of Biology and Calculus II.
So it sounds like he has bit off a little more than he can chew.

Now the issue is he is struggling. He is getting C's for the first time in his life.
Now we all know that Biology, Calculus and Organic are all weed out classes. They are meant to break down people. They are there to chew up young budding doctors and spit them out.
So he calls his mother last week and tells her he is thinking about changing his major and forgetting the whole dentist thing.

He probably has pretty crappy study habits (because he was never challenged in High School) and he is away from home for the first time in his life. He has his first girlfriend. There are more distractions in college than in the Playboy mansion.
So you can imagine what he is going through.
I went through it and if you went to college you probably went through it.
I think this is why I drank so much in college (also because it was fun and all the girls liked me when I drank). I was self medicating. I was depressed because I thought I was working hard and I was in constant fear that I was going to drop out.
I didn't have a support group, at least nothing like my family, the ones that loved me for just being me.
My support group at school was my drinking buddies.

So I called him.
I wanted to tell him that he was not alone.
I wanted to encourage him. I want him to know that he is going through things that we all have been through.
I told him a story about my Organic Chemistry class.
I had terrible study habits. I would study and thought I was studying hard but it was in between concerts, intramural sports, all the Gator sports I had to watch, my girlfriend and my drinking (I didn't tell him this last part).
Back to Chemistry....I had a 54% average after 2 tests and there were only four tests and a final.
I went the professors office to tell him I am dropping his class.
He said, "What is your name kid?"
Then I realized this guy was not going to let me out of his office without a fight.
He said, "What do you want to be when you grow up? Let me guess you want to be a doctor or a dentist or vet or something don't you?"
"Well, yes sir, I want to be a dentist?"
"John, do you think Dental school is going to be easier or harder than my entry level Organic Chemistry class?"
"Yes, John. It is going to be harder. Now how about you NOT drop this class and you learn to study Organic the way it is suppose to be studied.
I want you to get a stack of 500 3x5 cards and write down all the equations. Then, for the next 7 more weeks of this class I never want you to be without this stack of cards. I want you to sleep with these cards, I want you to go to the bathroom with these cards, I want you to go to church with these cards."
Then he said, "John, do you have any money?"
I said, "Well, my dad has money."
He said, "Good. Then you are going to pay my best teacher's assistant to tutor you. You will meet him here every Wednesday at 5pm, how does that sound?"
"Great?! I guess."

I was able to drop a test in this class. So I kept my best test grade to date...a 56.
My next test I got a 80. The next test I got an about a 87 and on the final exam, which was cumulative, I got an A.
Not only did I learn to study, I learned what it took to be successful. I learned the sacrifice.

I told this young man that I was pulling for him. I told him that I wanted him to be happy. And if he wanted to be a dentist it was going to be hard. But it was worth the sacrifice.
I didn't tell him that he needed to slow down the partying. I didn't tell him he needed to lose the loser friends that were going to drop out soon anyway. I didn't tell him he needed to give more and then when you think it is enough, then give a little more.
I told him I was praying for his success. Even if he didn't become a dentist.
What else could I do?
Sometimes that is all a kid needs. Is to know that he is not alone in his struggles and that there is a end to the means.
That is what Dr. Shanns did for me.

Have a great Wednesday,


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this blog! I've been struggling with those exact issues lately. I'm in my first semester of Organic chemistry (and i too am pulling a C), and I find it to be the most challenging class i've taken so far. I've been through my biology I and II, and micro....but Organic...i'm pounding my head aginst the wall. My classmates seem so confident and I feel like i'm lagging behind. I supposde what i'm trying to say is i'm relieved to hear someone else expres that they had self doubt and anxiety during their pre-med undergrad years. So thank you!

gatordmd said...

Its my pleasure.
Just don't self medicate as much as I did.
Thanks for reading,

Rob W. said...

Hey Dr.
SO i am a college grad and recieved a business degree for SF State. Ive worked out in the world for about 2 years and have come to the conclusion that allthough i am good at what i do, business is simply too selfish of an endevour for a soul like mine. I have now begun to re-enroll in SF state and will be pursuing a Bio degree so that i can become a dentist for all the reasons you spoke of above. Since i am a couple years ahead i was wondering if you have any advice for me as i take the plunge here!

If you could respond to robertow1985@gmail.com i would greatly appreciate it.

PS - im nervous as all hell so any encouraging wors would be great!

Tony Destroni said...

Dentist or dentistas- a person who takes care of our teeth , a simple explanation of this profession.But we all know that being a dentist has a big role and responsibilities to us .It is not only they remove our teeth and as well taking care of them .Maintaining each people smiles .

gatordmd said...

Someone is doing some blog "catching up".
Tony, I hope you are liking the archives.
Keep commenting. Thanks

Unknown said...

Hello i as well am interested in dentistry, but am scared and dont seem to be getting the support i need from the people i know. any tips or words would be wonderful. angela.g.narayan@gmail.com


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