Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dental Boards stories

Magic lose.
I have to tell you I am not that upset. I am definitely heart broken and I hate to lose especially to the Lakers and to Phil Jackson and Kobe, but I am trying to look at the whole season.
We had an awesome season. We grew up this season. We will be stronger for it.
(I think this is what all the losers say)
But the best thing about the NBA being football is right around the corner.
Oh my gosh. If you were sick about hearing about Tim Tebow and the Gators last year. This year is going to be sooooo much worse.

We watched Rocky IV this weekend with the kids.
This is the one with Dolph Lundron as Ivan Drago. My kids just eat it up. They love everyone of these movies.
Then our next door neighbor came over with Rocky Balboa and we watched that one.

My wife and I watch a movie called Shining Through with Melanie Griffin and Michael Douglas.
It was a romantic WWII movie. It was all right. Nothing special.
We watched Taken last night. WOW!! This movie was good. It was a lot like Bourne Supremacy, where the action starts and it doesn't stop until the credits roll.
Definitely two thumbs up.

I started a book called To Own a Dragon by Donald Miller (the guy who wrote Blue Like Jazz).
It is just about the author's walk through life without a father. He talks about the hole he has in his life because he grew up without a father. Then he talks about what it means to be a father and to talks about how he filled this hole in his life with his Holy Father.
But the reason I am reading this is because my "talk" with my 10 year old is looming.
I am trying to get myself pumped up for this (maybe "pumped up" is not the best wording).
I am thinking alot about how I am going to do it.
I have a good relationship with him and we talk but we have never "talked".

Okay the topic of the day.
I want to start a fun series on the stories I remember from the Dental Licensure Exam.
First I will tell the non dental people about this test.
This exam is after you finished dental school. You have to prove your proficiency. The state of Florida kind of dances to the beat of its own drum on this one. Some states will take your degree from a University as proof enough. Some states will take certificates from other states as proof.
But you have to understand how different states like Florida and California are.
Everyone and their mother wants to retire in Florida. So what happens is that a dentist who is 60 and can retire thinks about moving to Florida (by the way, it was 96 degrees here yesterday with about a 200% it ain't that great right now) and working a couple of days a week.
So there has to be some weed out process. And the state of Florida makes a ton of money by making dentist jump through all these hoops to practice here.
So it is what it is.
Everyone who wants to practice dentistry in Florida has to pass this exam. Now, I am a liscensed dentist in Florida which means I can use this liscense and practice in most other states. But like I said it is not recipricated.
The test.
This test will bring most people to their knees.
It is not as much as who is the best dentist but can you handle the stress. Can you jump through the hoops and not have a nervous breakdown in the mean time?
It is a five day exam. Two full days of just multiple choice questions. This part was in a huge auditorium. There are two 4 hours segment where they would have a slide for every question. Like....Can you tell me what type of cell is on this slide?
Then there are two half days where we had a laboratory test. Half of the exam was in a lab and there were stations with questions. So every 4 minutes and you would move from desk to desk answering different sort of laboratory questions. FOUR HOURS.
The second half of this day was a lab profiecency test. You would have to do Root Canal on an extracted tooth. Then, you would have to do a crown on a dentiform.
Then there was two half days of working on working on live patients.
You would have to have patient that needed the exact cavity you were asked to perform a filling on.
Then the second half was to clean someone's teeth. Now it just couldn't be anyone. It had to be someone with some form on periodontal disease.

So there are so many ways things can get screwed up during these five days.
Remember the hoops I talked about, well I will try to explain.
First let me tell you that the hoops were necessary and they did it to keep us on our toes and to try to protect from cheating.
For instance, in the root canal part of the test. You were expected to take an extracted tooth (it had to be a premolar) and mount it in an acrylic block. You were to have a pre root canal set of x-rays. Now if you were thinking you would pick the easiest tooth to work on and looking at the x-ray you can a fairly high probability of less problems. But the kicker was that you had to have two potential teeth to work on. That means two blocks of teeth and two pre root canal xrays.
And they were to be labeled "A" and "B" so as someone taking the exam you did not know which tooth you would be working on.
For every part of the exam you had to have a different set of instruments wrapped in sterilization paper with your social security number on it.
Now for the live patient part of it....
You had to line up your patients and make sure they were going to show up (because if your patient didn't show up or their cavity didn't meet the criteria of the particular exam you couldn't do this part of the exam and you would fail.
This is why they have companies that all they do is provide patients. Now when I was taking this test 14 years ago people would pay in the thousands of dollars for a patient (the company would guarantee that the patient would meet the criteria).
So if you don't have a couple G's to get a patient you have to get your own. So what if the patient that you think for sure will meet the criteria fails? You have to have a back up patient.
So how do you get them to show up? Well you have to pay them just to show up. You say to them I will pay you $200 to come and show up here and get evaluated. If you "pass" and I do a filling on you, I will pay you $100 more. So you have to pay the patient and the back-up patient to at least show up. And you have to pay your "filling" patients and your "cleaning" patients.
I am explaining all the things first because when I start to tell you the stories you have some background information.
Then after the test you have to wait 3 and a half grueling weeks to get your test results.
Last thing. If you fail the test it is major deal. They only give the test 2 times a year. So if you fail, not only are you emotionally a mess, but you have to wait 6 months to take it again and all the stress starts all over.
But what that means in dollars is....if you make $75,000 in a year, you are losing $37,000 because you failed this test.

Okay one quick story.
My friend Jay lived in Miami. His father was a dentist. Now his dad was tickled pink that Jay was graduating dental school and wanted just to be there at the end.
His father stayed with Jay a couple weeks after graduation just to hang out and try to get Jay through the boards. Well the last day of the boards started that morning so dad said to Jay, "I am going to go home, good luck today and I will see you home in a couple of days."
Jay's dad loaded up the car and started the 6 hour drive home.
One started the drive with all of Jay's root canal instruments and mounted teeth in the back of his sporty Lexus.
Now Jay was getting ready to leave for the exam and realized this about a half an hour after his dad left. So he borrowed his friends sports car and started down the highway at about 100mph. He figured he would catch him in about an hour.
Now you have to understand this is not the days that everyone has a cell phone so he was not able to get a hold of his father.
Also realize that if Jay doesn't have his stuff he would get a zero on the root canal part and almost automatically fail the whole thing. Because a zero is hard to make up.
Jay never caught his dad.
He got back into town about a half hour before the test was about to begin.
It was a mad scramble. He borrowed someones instruments (I think there was some fudging with this because they had to be his instruments with his SS# on it...but I don't remember). Now the tooth was the real issue.
Remember I said that you had to mount two teeth and at the time of the test they tell you which one you will be working on. Well that means people will literally be throwing out the non used tooth.
Well, after the announcement of the tooth, he went into the trash can and picked out a tooth.
Now he is saying to himself this is a $35,000 decision. Do I take something out of the trash and possibly get in trouble or do I take the zero? Now they could have caught him and banned him from taking the test again. But it is not like he is turing in someone else's work. Or cheating. So he risked it.
I can tell you I would have done the same thing Jay did.
You are so stressed (not that I am saying if you are stressed it is okay to lie) and so many things are riding on this. Jay probably was suppose to join his dad's practice in three weeks. You have to plan on passing. I can tell you your head is spinning round and round and you are definitely not thinking straight.
I am not remembering the story perfectly but I remember there was a problem with the xrays.
Like he found a tooth but couldn't find the pre root canal x-rays that went with it.
So he took a penalty by not having that x-ray.
He said his root canal totally sucked but at least he didn't get a zero. I think I remember him getting a 1.5 out of five. And I know he passed his exam.
Remember I said it is not to see if you are an awesome dentist, it is how you handle all these things. Can you keep your head? Can you keep it together long enough to pass the test?

I am sorry for the length,
I would love to hear your board horror stories,
I tell you mine on Friday,


The Forsyths said...

Hi John,
I recently just found your blog and I am having fun reading & back tracking to older post. I can relate completely on so many entries but that would mean hours and hours of commenting. So I'll just comment on one today on my board horror story.
Just like you I had an issue with sterilized instruments. I had hired this assistant ($500) and she agreed to lend me instruments from the office she worked at. We agreed to meet at 7 pm the night before for her to hand them to me. She arrived at 11 pm.. all the while I was freaking out. Luckily she did arrive on time the next day for the big test. Unlucky for me she was a "chain smoker" and did not mention to me until the day of that she needs a smoke break about every 15-30 minutes. I remember at one point when I was so stressed out, she brought out her bible. I didn't know to laugh or cry.
I'm sure I can go on and on... its all coming back to me (Thanks, John !!). When all was said and done, I received a letter from the boards 3 weeks latter saying I failed. There's more... about a week latter, I received another letter saying it was a mistake and I did indeed passed after all. I was a ball of emotions.
Here I am 7 years latter practicing ! Have I said I am happy to accidently find your blog. I think I googled "septocaine" ( oi... same thing happened to me!)

Dr. N

gatordmd said...

I am glad you found my blog as well. Great story.
I am sure you should be able to sue the state for emotional anquish or something like that.
I am not into sueing or anything but I would in this case.
I hope you keep reading and commenting.


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