A Look Back – ASDA Leadership

What was one of your worst days in school/SIM/clinic that you’re able to laugh about now?

“One day in sim, we were working on natural molars that required us to mount it in our typodonts in the correct position. Of course, I accidentally mounted my molar backwards. I remember feeling embarrassed, especially when my bench faculty had realized my silly mistake. Thankfully, the teeth we work on now are already “mounted” in the patient correctly!” – Rachel Bryant

“As a D1, dental school has been great so far! I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by so many people that are also following their dreams.” – Sophia Taghavi

“First day of drilling, couldn’t do it. But it soon got much easier.” – Carl Prince

“Our first day making provisionals for a #7 emax crown prep and finally making a good one after 16 attempts and many tears later.” – Maileen Phoeung

“When we started using indirect vision for maxillary class I preps on #14, HA HA HA, those were not pretty at first. And definitely made me feel a little cross-eyed. ” – Siri Vasireddy

“The day we made stone models first year was probably my worst day in sim. My first model had bubbles so I had to redo it, then on my next one I chipped the front teeth with the grinding wheel, so I did a third one. Once I finished my third one, I asked an instructor for help separating it and it got cracked in half. Then when I was about to start on a fourth try a different instructor told me it would be fine to just super glue the model back together since it was a clean break, and then he added “your first model is fine for the purpose of this activity.” By this time the day was over so I went home, vented to my mom and slept until the next day. The good thing that came from it was now I have enough models to work with for multiple projects! And I got a ton of practice.” – Mikaela Weedman

“Our first day drilling in SIM. I remember feeling like it was so foreign and that I would never be able to accomplish a prep. Looking back on it now, all of the frustration was a part of the process.” – Amanda Tran

“I thoroughly enjoy school, I have not really had any bad days yet. Just tired days.” – Kari Zins

Wellness Wednesday – ASDA Leadership

It is Wellness Wednesday here at Midwestern-AZ! One aspect of Be Well ASDA is take care of ourselves and our bodies! Check out the different ways Midwestern ASDA Leadership members stay healthy during dental school!

What is your favorite recipe?

“Strawberry Banana Smoothie: 2 cups fresh strawberries, 1 fresh peeled banana, 1 cup almond milk, 1 cup ice, 1 tablespoon honey, ½ cup non-salted almonds (if you want a little bit of a crunch!)”

“Salad Shirazi (Persian Cucumber & Tomato Salad)”

“Whole wheat turkey sandwich with spinach and tomatoes”

“Anything with avocado”

“Banana protein pancakes”

“Tandoori chicken drumsticks”

“My favorite healthy recipe is quinoa stuffed bell peppers. Just mix quinoa, black beans, tomatoes, onions, jalapeños and taco seasoning and stuff it inside of some bell peppers.”

“Pesto Salmon”

“I’m boring, I eat a lot of chicken, brown rice and veggies.”

“Tabouli Salad”

“Tomato and cucumber salad”

What is your favorite way to exercise?

“Running or walking my dog Scout”

“Hiking and dancing”

“Crossfit”

“Sunset hikes on Thunderbird Mountain!”

“LEGS. squats, deadlifts, laying down on the yoga mat pretending to stretch”

“Yoga & strength training”

“I like to go to the gym and lift weights and I also like to hike for cardio.”

“Any class like a Zumba or yoga class”

“Soccer is always my favorite way to workout.”

“Kickboxing”

“Hiking and snowboarding”

Health and Wellness – Alex Fung ’22

If you’re like me and have terrible posture, yet still wonder why your back hurts at the end of a procedure, then it never hurts to be reminded of proper ergonomics. I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve had the privilege of good teachers, vigilant partners, and trial and error, so I’d like to highlight a few of the tips and cues that work for me. 

One point I’d like to make before I get started is that ergonomics is a team sport. Don’t forget that your own proprioception is not the only tool you have at your disposal to fix your ergonomics. Recruit the help of a coworker, assistant, friend, or even a camera (yes, to film your own posture), because with different perspectives comes better ergonomics.

One of the fundamental pieces of advice I’ve received for general sitting posture is “shoulders back, chest high, and spine aligned.” I like to think as if there was a rod directly through my spine that is pulling me straight up off my seat. Other cues that have stuck with me are “ten toes down” as a reminder to always have your feet planted as a solid base, and “love your abs or they won’t love you back” as a reminder to continue to maintain some level of abdominal pressure to support your back. 

In terms of more complicated situations of pain, I think it’s easy to overcompensate one way or another when things start to tighten up. For example, I struggled with lower back tightness, so I would be overly concerned with lumbar support and trying to compensate with more of an anterior pelvic tilt. I found out that I needed to take a step back and look at my overall position, which directed my attention to more upstream effects, like stretching out my hip rotators and elongating my upper body for more support. My point is that it is important to look at other areas of posture, even if it doesn’t directly involve the painful area.

All-in-all whether you’re pain-free or struggling to get in and out of a chair, it is always important to be comfortable and self-aware. I encourage you to make cheesy cues for yourself and implement daily/hourly reminders to help you stay vigilant. Our goal with ergonomics is longevity, so if you see others around you give them some feedback, because we’re all in this together! Go be great y’all, have a terrific day!

-Alex Fung, Midwestern Dental Class of 2022

#BeUtahful – Aditi Desai, ASDA District 10 Trustee, Roseman ’21

You will find two types of people in Utah. One who would claim there isn’t much to do in Utah, and other who would say there is so much to do in Utah! It all comes down to what type of person you are. Do you like to party like you are in Vegas every weekend? Or are you an adventurous outdoor person?  If you are the latter, then you can never be bored in Utah! Utah is the perfect place to live if you love outdoor adventures such as camping, hiking, fishing, rock climbing, mining, swimming, snowboarding and more. Any type of outdoor activity you can think of, can be done in Utah!

After moving to Utah, I was surprised by the amount of time it took me to get acclimatized to the altitude. Having grown up on flat terrain in Ontario, Canada where running a mile was no large feat, here I found myself huffing and puffing after running just 100 yards. I didn’t feel alone when I found out that this was a common phenomenon for others who made a similar geographical change.  Overtime my lung capacity and stamina increased, and I’m grateful for the experience of getting to live in such a beautiful state. 

Utah is a unique state as it has mountains, lake, hot springs, caves, snow and desert! It is very common to see students in Utah go hiking or skiing/snowboarding weekly. There is so much to do and see here that even if you went hiking every weekend to a new location for a year, you would still not be close to experiencing all the different hikes and views. If you have Instagram, you should check out this popular trending hashtag #BeUTAHful and see all the beautiful pictures of Utah. So far, I have had the opportunity to visit 2 out of 5 National Parks. My goal before I leave Utah is to go from a beginner skier to an expert level skier and complete all the hard level hikes at all the National Parks of Utah. 

So for anyone planning to visit Utah, here is what I recommend according to the season.

Spring
Best activity: Visit Arches or Bryce Canyon or Salt Flats (Best time for photography after a good rain fall)
Favorite Hike:

Summer
Best activity: Homestead crater or camping in Lake Powell (Don’t forget to stargaze at night!)

Fall
Best activity: Visit Zion
Favorite Hike: (Can not pick one) Angel’s landing but all the way to the peak, The Narrows (don’t forget to rent out warm pants and boots)

Winter
Best activity: Skiing or Snowboarding or Horseshoeing in Park City or attend Sundance Festival (this year I had a chance to see Mindy Kaling in passing!)

Honestly, it doesn’t matter what the weather is like or what season it is, you will always be able to see something beautiful in Utah! I am very lucky that I am able to spend 4 years here and I am excited to see what else Utah has to offer!

-Adita Desai, ASDA District 10 Trustee, Roseman ’21

End of the Year Reflections – Class of 2021

The end of the academic school year marks a period of transition. It is a great time to take the lessons we were fortunate enough to learn and look ahead for the upcoming year. Below are some end of the year reflections from the Midwestern-Arizona Dental Class of 2021. 

“There is getting all As in classes …and then there is mental and emotional health. I choose the latter” – Stewart Glines ‘21

“I have learned that when I am stressed, it helps to ask myself if it will matter in a year, 5 years, or 10 years. If it won’t, then try to let it go. Put things in perspective” – Rachel Bryant ‘21

“Although dental school can be very demanding of your time and energy, don’t forget to take breaks and live your lives. If you have a family here with you, make sure you spend as much quality time with them as possible. Loved ones make all your hard work worth it” – Andy Nguyen ‘21

“Have a good cry every once in a while” – Ashton Tracey ‘21

“The most important lessons are learned when we don’t expect them. Ever since I began my journey into dental school, I have caught myself focusing on the end product rather than trusting the process whether it be finishing a project or graduation. I’ve learned that it’s important to appreciate little moments and steps that will help me reach my end goal. By doing so I have learned much more than I ever would have through dental school alone. Appreciate where you are in your journey because it will ultimately lead you to your final destination” – Felicia Desai ‘21

“Don’t stress about this year, no matter what you’ll make it through” – Steven Melter ‘21

“Don’t be afraid to push yourself further than you’re comfortable with and you’ll be surprised to see how much you’re truly capable of (except with adjacent teeth…don’t push it that far)” – Kyle Mow ‘21

“Happiness is a route, not a destination. It’s important to stay calm through the struggle, show people love, and smile” – Thomas Kovas ‘21

“This year I learned that it’s possible to balance school, work, and personal life if you stay focused and organized.” – Lisa Do ‘21

“When things get stressful in dental school, just remember how amazing it is that you have made it this far. Your past self worked hard to get you here, and you owe it to yourself and everyone who has helped you along the way to enjoy your experience. Take time to enjoy pursuing your dream” -Kayla Keppler ‘21

“Take care of yourself spiritually, physically and mentally. From there on out the sky is the limit” – Khadija Nafi ‘21

“It took me a quarter century to learn this, but the most important thing is to be kind and compassionate to yourself. Your inner world radiates to those around you” – Judy Nguyen ‘21

“Take it like a champ” – Jose Estrada ‘21 

“This year I learned that when your life throws more at you than you thought you could handle, it’s natural to become too absorbed in the daily details. It’s like when you focus on one wall of your prep while losing sight of the bigger procedure. It’s so important to regularly step back, take an honest inventory, and ask yourself if your actions still fit your most fundamental priorities” – Justin Stanford ‘21

“Remember to make time for the people who bring joy to your life” – Christy Redmond ‘21

“Highly recommend getting a dog or some other animal during dental school! Such an amazing stress reliever for me” – Amber Downing ‘21

That’s a wrap, Class of 2021. See you next year! 

Beyond the Walls of Dental School – Jenn Hecht ’21

Traveling has been a huge priority to me ever since I was a kid. I can thank my Travel Agent mom who has shown me parts of the world most other people my age have only dreamed of. But now here I am in dental school, where I often feel overwhelmed, poor (thanks school tuition), and plagued with a mindset that simply focuses on one thing: learning dentistry. My saving grace during all these lectures and long days are the vacations I constantly think about and spend time planning.

Let’s take a step back. Why go on vacations now, and how can I afford it? Here is how I feel:

There are so many people out there (both dental student and otherwise) that feel like they need to save every penny, wait several years until they have stable financials, and then maybe.. just MAYBE, they will plan a trip. I find that mindset hard to relate to, because often, people will never FULLY reach their ‘ideal’ financial goals. There will always be something in the way of that goal (kids, new business, etc) and that is okay! But allowing that excuse of “I don’t have the money” is stunting the ability to truly live and experience the world…especially NOW as a dental student! We have all the loans in the world to spend on fun vacations, and while we have guaranteed breaks after every quarter, we should be utilizing that money to experience what we can while we are young and able! Now, I am not suggesting using insane amounts of loans just to plan a vacation, but I think that researching and planning vacations that are affordable seems totally doable while in school. Who knows, any one of us could die tomorrow, so live it up now (responsibly of course)!

There are so many opportunities and ways to travel, especially at Midwestern University. While I am not in any school organizations personally, I know that there are groups (such as the Political Advocacy Committee) that travel all over the country and fight for dentists and dental students at the same time. I’ve seen some members of that group go to Chicago, Seattle, Washington DC, Portland, etc. The community service opportunities at this school are great too! While the downside to these trips are that it must be fully funded by yourself, the school goes to several unique places, such as Samoa, Tonga, and Guatemala. I think these trips are great because you get to go with your peers and familiar professors, and if the trip happens during school, they don’t count against your personal days that you get allotted. What many students do (and what I plan to do if I get chosen to go on one of these trips) is plan a personal vacation after serving these communities. For example, if I were to go to Tonga (which is close to Australia and New Zealand), once we all finish our community service, I will book a trip out to NZ and spend a few days exploring that beautiful country too! Even if neither of these seem like good options for you, planning personal vacations are a great idea too! On my agenda, I have Mexico, Jamaica, Colorado (snowboarding!), the Bahamas, Tonga and New Zealand (crossing my fingers I get the trip), Australia, and backpacking through Europe all lined up as places to go over the next couple years. Am I crazy… definitely maybe, but hey, I am writing a blog about traveling, so what else did you expect? 😉

Whether you explore new states in the country or grab a passport and explore the world, traveling is a great way to take a break from your normal everyday life struggles and open up your horizons! Go with friends or go by yourself, but make exploration a priority in your life.. not in a few years, but NOW!

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Jenn Hecht ’21