D School

Calendar Organization

Dental school is prime time to get organized and learn to manage time between class, lab, and personal relationships – I don’t think students survive without some resemblance of a schedule or understanding of what they’re supposed to be doing and when. Eventually, you’ll make the transition from didactic student to student clinician, but even then, lack of organization is grounds for a total mess in clinic!

At CU, we elect class secretaries that are responsible for creating a master class iCal, a link that is shared amongst the members of the class. As a new DS2, I’m quickly learning that my 8 am-5 pm days of lecture are arduous and draining, but having a good idea of what my day looks like in advance absolutely aids in planning in workouts, grocery shopping, etc.

I put everything in my calendar. I type out to-do lists and plan my days to a T – therefore, I know exactly where I’m supposed to be at all times, certainly a type A trait that I retain. I have found it to be lessen my stress significantly if I can simply type out what needs to be done and tier my priorities throughout the day. My calendar (see below) is color-coded for School, Exams, Home, Etc., and I’ve since trained myself to “scan” my calendar to get an idea of the day’s work and errands. You definitely don’t need to organize yourself in the same way I did, this is just what works for me.

Even before dental school, I always gravitated toward iCal as my main planner of choice. I personally like the interface and color coding options, but that’s not saying that other programs (i.e. Google Calendar or Outlook Calendar) cannot perform the same tasks. iCal works for me since I concurrently use my iPhone, Macbook Air, and iPad Pro and can sync everything across the three platforms without issue. I also love that iCal allows you to attach PDF, Word docs, etc. to particular events, so if I get a schedule of an event, I take a screenshot and attach it to the calendar event, saving me the time of having to type everything out separately.

However, I’ve since been recommended multiple times to begin transitioning to a paper planner for patient care and clinic experiences. Physically penciling in your patients in a hard-copy planner helps practitioners keep their many patients and respective procedures straight and in one piece. Additionally, a paper planner can follow you into clinic, where often times, your iPhone or iPad cannot.

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 10.14.57 AM.png

What my calendar looks like next week. Not too bad, actually!

I see my first perio patient on October 31st (Halloween! The holiday that keeps us dentists in business!) and the lead-up to that very first patient interaction is driving many of us DS2s to get our act together. T-Clinic with Drs. Delapp, Wilson, and Mediavilla is reigniting the spark for dentistry, something that might have waned in our time since getting our CU acceptance and completing the mostly-didactic DS1 year.

When you’re a DS1 (and I guess a DS2), all you can really think about whilst sitting through hours of lecture is the prospect of clinic and getting to know your patients. A few classmates and I have tried getting into clinic to assist our DS3 and DS4 friends, sometimes with the expense of lecture and the type of stress encountered as an upperclassman is totally different than that of a beginning dental student. Patient cancellations, grouchy patients, and failed lab projects are abound. Watching our older peers frantically call patients, leaving pleading voicemails to get bodies in chairs is certainly a novel experience, but one that we’ll all be forced into soon enough!

I first learned of Lilac Paper through an Instagram giveaway they did back when I first started dental school. Their characters and dental-focus drove several of my classmates (and myself!) to purchase adorable planners and badge reels for our shiny new student IDs. I’m all for supporting small businesses, and I’m even more thrilled to support Lilac Paper, which was started by two dental students, FOR us dental students. Rachel and Charlene have designed every piece and are both incredibly involved with their company, in spite of now being fully practicing dental graduates!

I have so much respect for Rachel and Charlene’s company and their work and am thrilled that they have agreed to sponsor my blog and Colorado ASDA predental – use coupon code COLORADOASDA (until October 12th, 2017) for 10% off your Lilac Paper purchase. Any purchases over $50 on their online shop will receive free shipping within the USA.

thumbnail_Screen Shot 2017-08-13 at 7.36.12 PM.jpg

thumbnail_Screen Shot 2017-08-13 at 7.35.57 PM.jpg

Their planners are fully personalized with your name, degree, and cover design of choice. They’re all made-to-order and include 12 months available for all of your future DDS plans. Yet, my favorite part about Lilac Paper’s planners (and what’s finally convincing me to try my hand at paper planners) are the stickers and dental notes woven throughout the planner – it’s the little details that count!



Currently, they’re running a Kickstarter campaign to bring Princess Prophy (um, only my favorite Lilac Paper character) to life as a plush children’s toy. Point of detail appreciation: Princess Prophy even has a little money pocket on her back to prepare for that tooth fairy loot. They’re over halfway to reaching their goal of $7,000 with 20 days to go. If their Kickstarter goal is reached, you’ll receive your selected tiered gift by mid-November, perfect for the holidays. Princess Prophy is truly the cutest gift for any predental, dental hygienist, student, etc. – I really hope you’ll consider sponsoring them!



*This post is sponsored by Lilac Paper, but all opinions expressed in this blog post are my own

~ Colleen

Follow us on Instagram @carpedentumblog

Contact Colleen


DS1 Highlight Reel

Kissing the ground rn as I celebrate the completion of my first year of dental school – DS1 gave me plenty of things to be ecstatic about: for one, I passed Part I of the NBDE, but equally as many breakdowns and nights of mental anguish over anatomy.

Update: One of my classmates that is clearly more numbers focused than me just posted that over the course of three semesters, we have taken 64 exams and 93 quizzes!

Also – do you know what planet (Tatooine?) is in the featured image is?! It’s our campuses beloved meatball/peach pit/clay bowling ball, which sits outside of one of the dental school’s entrances. On the other side of the campus, near the research buildings, sits a wire version of the meatball, supposedly to represent the lives of the caged albino lab rats that are lost in the name of science. In all, supposedly the meatball symbolizes the young student when they first arrive, and through careful molding, trials, and challenges, one becomes shiny and polished like the wire cage ball on the other side. But idk it could work backwards as well – shiny and new to dull and hardened but that’s a lesson in optimism vs. pessimism for you.

Below are some of my favorite moments from 2016-17:
Image-1.jpgDay 1 of orientation – everyone looks so happy and optimistic about the future!

Buying Loupes

ASDA held our loupes fair in September, which was frankly a little later than a lot of my fellow classmates and I wanted – weird, I know, since we wouldn’t even be using them until spring semester 2017. (I know for the incoming DS class of 2021, the loupes fair will be held during orientation week, which I think is a lot better.)

Truth is, a lot of us went with one particular company (I won’t say on here since the company went well out of their way to right their wrongs, to me, at least) that ended up being extremely backordered. The vast majority of us placed orders at the beginning of October and were promised our loupes by Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, it. went. down. First, the company sent me a pair of loupes without the extra ($$$) upgraded prisms I had requested. Second, the subsequent pair of loupes with the upgraded microscopes were cracked around the edges. I didn’t have my real loupes until the end of December and I was one of the earlier recipients of my new overpriced microscope glasses from this particular company. To boot, many of my classmates received faulty loupes come January, when we were actually starting work in SIM clinic, so they were SOL and used loaners. I post do a loupes review or some sort of blog about purchasing them (aka dropping dat ca$h money) in the next week or so. Above all, I’m super happy with mine – they’re pink, which is always the perfect choice for trying to be taken seriously in professional school. But seriously, mine have a fantastic angle of declination and I see very clearly. After wearing loupes for three hours straight in SIM lab my ears start to hurt since they cannot support the weight of the loupes plus the constant pull of the mask loops, but I’m getting used to it.
Image-1-1.png Powder tries out my initial* pair of loupes on for size. Isn’t amused.
*I ended up exchanging this frame for another pair later on after I decided it didn’t work for my (nonexistent) nose bridge. I whited out the name of the company so keep guessing where I ended up buying them from.

Wax Lab/Dental Anatomy

Wowow I though wax lab/dental anatomy was so fun! I don’t know how your school teaches dental anatomy (I hear some schools are moving toward 2D tooth sketches, which I would be horrendous at), but at least at CU, you get your first dentoform plus a ton of tooth pegs (uniform preps) during Dental Anatomy lab, a first semester DS1 class. I  found wax lab to be the highlight of my week every Thursday; donning my brand new navy blue scrubs, I’d walk in and grip that PKT in my tiny fist and attempt to use the additive technique to make my own interpretation of a second maxillary molar (I LOVE oblique ridges). See some examples below – by no means was I the best waxer in my class, but I had such a good time experimenting and playing around. Perhaps I’ll post separately about waxing specifically, but at least in my experience, so many upperclassmen will offer you their advice and notes on what might work best for them. I’m not discounting anything that these well-meaning students are trying to offer, but waxing (like drilling), is a skill unique to each person and their hands. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. E.g. an upperclassman tried to teach me the “dipping” technique to build up a mound of wax on my plastic tooth preparation and I never got the hang of it. Every time, the technique would yield me greater frustration and at one point, a nasty wax burn. I ended up modifying the advice awarded to me by making up my own, individual methods. You will too.
A rather mediocre mandibular second premolar wax up. I got a lot better after this one.

What a nice looking second maxillary molar! I started getting pretty quick at wax ups toward the end of the class – this one took me 45 minutes with secondary anatomy included. I even got that elusive tripod upon testing occlusion in my articulator!

ADA 2016 in the Mile High City

Exciting! The American Dental Association held their annual meeting in our home city of Denver! For some, more established dentists, means an opportunity for fulfilling continuing education (CE) credits, but for the DS1 like me, means FREE STUFF. I wish I had saved a photo of all my loot from the three days I went to the meeting (and even snuck my brother in one of the days) but I seriously collected well over 50 toothbrushes, 20-something (full size!) tubes of toothpaste, and lanyards, tote bags, GALORE. No one uses that much dental stuff all by their lonesome and I suspected we’d amass far more free samples later on in our dental student and practicing doctor careers, so I ended up donating the vast majority of it to a women’s shelter near my apartment. What I didn’t donate was given to my friends, making David, Katie, and Jake rather happy to receive new oral hygiene swagswagswag. I also purchased several (the picture below doesn’t even show all of them) Sonicare toothbrushes at an insane discount and resold them at my cost to buddies – everyone gets one!

The free swag wasn’t even the best part about the ADA meeting – MALALA YOUSAFZAI was the keynote speaker. What her relative context is in the field of dental medicine may be unknown, but being in her presence was exhilarating. It’s women like her that remind me that there are far greater, bigger events in this world that matter more than dental school. Her keynote address, in spite of it having nothing to do with dentistry (besides an ADA donation to establish an oral health clinic in her home village), was inspiring and reimagined the way I looked at my anatomy stress (which was the block class I was in at the time of the meeting).
IMG_0816.PNGI just want to be like Oprah.

My classmate Dillon and I were actually rather close to the front. We snuck into the VIP seating section. #doitformalala


Anatomy is featured in black on our color-coded student calendars and everyone always joked that it meant that it alluded to anatomy being the black hole in our lives from October-December of DS1. Definitely the hardest I’ve ever had to work in a class, in dental school or undergrad. 


Operative lab! Yasss! What we signed up for! In the summer semester, we also started Indirect Single Tooth Restoration, ISTR, so crown preps. More on that later.


I took my NBDE part I on July 1st. Exiting the test, I felt AWFUL. It’s an indescribable feeling – knowing only one out of every third question presented on the screen and walking out feeling sick to your stomach, thinking failure is imminent. It seems like my experience is pretty reflective of most other students’ NBDE part I experience – it’s a tough test that not even another two years of didactic class can teach to, but magically, the pass rate is very, very high for CU. Higher than the national average’s, actually.

In the weeks or so after the exam, I was constantly on edge, worried my result would come out and I’d see FAIL in block letters in my profile, but around 12 days after the exam (not even business days, I’m talking regular days!), I logged into my account to find a pretty PASS written next to my name. It was easily the high of DS1 and the perfect cherry on top of finishing finals. I’ll be writing more later on my actually studying for the NBDE and experience. FullSizeRender-6.jpg

~ Colleen

Follow us on Instagram @carpedentumblog

Contact Colleen

Featured image courtesy of the CU Denver and Anschutz Health Sciences Library’s Art Walk collection.



DS1 Study Habits

First of all, I apologize in advance to blog followers (my predentals!) that I’ve been so MIA. I took NBDE Part I on July 1st and since then, have been chugging away at my operative amalgam restorations and ISTR gold crown preps. It’s been a tough few weeks without time for blogging. Not only that, the Colorado ASDA Predental* Academy started a couple weeks ago! Getting to meet some of you in person makes me smile 🙂

*I’ve been asked to begin stylizing “pre-dental” as “predental.” Consistency is key and from here on out, will be dropping the dash. Weird, but it was a request.

Recently, I’ve partnered up with Dr. Rabe, a CU microbiologist and immunologist that just happens to teach both of those subjects in the CU DS1 curriculum AND is a CC grad. In the wise words of Dr. Rabe, “NEATO!” I met Dr. Rabe about midway through my first semester at CU, though I wish I’d met her even earlier. She has a PhD in education and a knack for helping students determine the best way of note-taking and studying for them. Thankfully, she will be delivering her magical presentation to the first years in the class of 2021 in only a few short weeks when orientation begins.

This year, I will be Dr. Rabe’s tutor and a teaching assistant of some sort for her immunology and microbiology classes, credit-hour heavy courses in the DS1 curriculum – they’re worth 1.9 and 3.1 credits, respectively. This year, immunology will be taught during the fall semester, instead of the spring, though.

I have been asked to write a blog detailing my personal study habits and tips from my DS1 year – that being said, it’s pretty key to note that what works best for me may not (read *probably*) won’t be best for you. Study habits are so unique to each individual, and Dr. Rabe has collected anecdotes of several of my classmates as well to account for such differences. They’ll be delivered during orientation week, which I sadly (lol no I’m going to COSTA RICA!) cannot attend.

The vast majority of lectures given at CU involve a Powerpoint presentation. Most of the time, professors and guest lecturers upload files to the class Canvas page and students have access to the Powerpoint ahead of time. This is key. I always download my Powerpoint lectures in advance and save them to pre-made folders on my laptop. It saves quite a bit of time and prevents any sort of last minute scrambling before the lecture actually begins.

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 2.28.29 PM.png

I take all of my lecture notes on my computer, annotating directly on the Powerpoint slides with red text. This helps me to highlight key concepts and statements. Rarely will I type, word-for-word what the lecturer is saying, I find it to be too dense to parse through at the end. I know some of my classmates type directly into the Powerpoint “Click for notes” box at the bottom of every slide. However, I personally dislike the relative inaccessibility to those notes compared to having them placed where they are relevant on the slide itself.

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 2.26.47 PM.png

Often times, the lecturer will include a list of learning objectives in either the syllabus or preceding the Powerpoint. Most of the time, I will complete these learning objectives right after the lecture is delivered, or that night. If not, I complete them before I begin studying for the exams. I’ve found that learning objectives underscore the most crucial parts of the lecture and explicitly enumerate what I actually need to know vs. the fluff included in the lecture that may not be relevant. Ideally, in a world where dental students have unlimited time, it’d be nice to read the learning objectives ahead of time to better hone your ears for important points during lecture, but time is simply of the essence in dental school.

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 2.31.59 PM.png

When I begin studying for an exam, I’ll print off my extensive pages of learning objectives (you’ll quickly learn that dental school exams span weeks of material and borderline insane amounts of content) and annotate by hand. It’s a well-known fact that the muscle memory gained from hand-writing notes is immensely helpful for brain memory and information retention. I’ll go back to Powerpoint lectures and parse through my notes, underlining and rewriting on my learning objective pages where I see fit. Many times, professors will hold reviews before exams to refresh your memory and often, feed you the most important information to know for exams. Always go.

Last word: Many students in my class love Panopto, a recording software we use in class to record all of our lectures, if the professor deems it appropriate. Personally, I rarely use Panopto and try to save it for instances that I completely zone out and fail to hear something important (which unfortunately tends to happen during pre-test reviews). Why? It takes a lot of time. Yes, you can watch the lecture at 2x speed and sometimes it’s funny listening to Alvin the Chipmunk give you a lecture on the kidney, but I’ve found that re-watching a lecture does not aid in information retention for me.

Still looking for additional study tips? One of my classmates, Seth, put together a YouTube playlist of videos that he swears by. Upon watching a few of them, they offer a pretty good study primer for DS1 and beyond. Check the playlist here.

*Also, don’t you just love the featured image? It’s one week in from the CU fall 2016 schedule. Ok yes it is the comprehensive schedule for all students here (DS1-4, ISP1-2), but it does look rather intimidating, no?

~ Colleen

Follow us on Instagram @carpedentumblog

Contact Colleen