By Daniel Shimansky/ Member of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine Program

Meet Josh, my attractive mannequin who I so endearingly named when I began my laboratory coursework at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.

Picture Josh’s consistent and contagious smile greeting you every morning at your work station.

Could dental school training possibly be as long and difficult as its reputation claims, when you have a reliable friend like Josh welcoming you into the laboratory every morning with a smile on his face?

The answer: Absolutely.

Seldom does a day pass in dental school without plenty of ups and downs. Trials and travails.

Yet, each of the trials that you must work through only improves your clinical skills and will inevitably make you a better dentist. For example, you may spend hours and hours working and reworking the wax fabrication of a denture setup, only to hear the faculty point out the myriad criteria which can be improved upon in your setup. Thus, it good to keep perspective and remember that all the work you do continues to hone your skills.

In the second year, mornings and afternoons on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are spent divided between four hours of laboratory training and four hours of clinic duty.
After crystallizing your denture into a fine prosthesis, you can expect to find your fully refreshed faculty awaiting you in the clinic, ready to oversee your  work and give you constructive feedback.

Luckily, we have daily action-packed lunch breaks that we use to refuel our energies. On any given day in the busy atrium of the school, you will assuredly find several student social groups tabling for their next causes. Be it social fundraising events, community service dental outreach events, alumni networking events, or cultural events, there is always something being promoted. Alongside these tables you will find dental classmates enjoying their lunches together, fueling the camaraderie of our school.

And on Tuesdays and Fridays, our “easy days,” we get to rest in our comfortable chairs while listening and taking notes to eight hours of lecture material that will be soon tested.

Piece of cake, right?

But, at the end of the day, I always remember to say hello and smile back to Josh, my friendly mannequin, because I know that he will remain by my side with unwavering and steadfast support until the day I graduate.

Daniel Shimansky, a 2nd year dental student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, hails from Boca Raton, Florida. He decided to study dentistry following his wisdom tooth extractions, when he danced his way out of his oral surgeon’s office with the receptionist and dental assistants. He has never looked back since!