September 2021 Volume LVI Number 5


Resident's Corner

May 2021 Volume LVI Number 3

Starting the Big Job of Taking Care of Tiny Teeth
by Sarah Khan, D.D.S., M.P.H.
First and foremost, congratulations! Whether you are getting ready to gradu- ate dental school in a few months or you are wrapping up cases for your patients in private practice as a non-traditional application – come the summer you
will be immersed in pediatric dentistry. Looking back at the past 20 months, it is humbling to see how much I have grown since starting my residency in 2019. I graduated dental school in 2016, com- pleted my General Practice Residency (GPR) in 2017, worked in private practice for two years and started my residency three whole years after graduating den- tal school. As you begin this next step in your career it is important to slow down and pause. Be proud of yourself and be excited! In a little more than 100 days, I will complete my residency at Mai- monides Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Being Chief Resident in one of the busi- est NYC hospitals during a global pan- demic, has been interesting to say the least. Every program is unique and has its strengths and weaknesses. However, there are some universal truths about all pediatric dental residency programs.
In his book, The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande said, "Good checklists... they provide reminders of only the most critical and important steps—the ones that even the highly skilled professional using them could miss." While pediatric dentistry can be very unpredictable, there are systems that can be developed to improve the flow of the day to day.Through the didactic curriculum in your program, you will learn about evidence based guidelines, treatment planning, behavior management techniques and clinical skills. Honestly, prior to start- ing my residency, I did attempt to read the AAPD guidelines in an effort to get ahead, however, I found that without a clinical context it was difficult to apply. In addition to the formal curriculum at your program, what I found more helpful was to follow-up specific clinical situations from each day with self learning. I recall one of my co-residents treating a patient with Noonan Syndrome and I went home that night and read about it. By developing a correlation with a clinical situation and evidence based literature the information is more likely to stick in your mind. As you develop your diagno- sis and clinical skills create "checklists" and "systems" for yourself. In pediaric dentistry, every moment counts and establishing efficiencies in your daily routine will make you an excellent provider. One of my assistants while I worked in private practice, taught me to change the highspeed from a cutting to polishing bur while a restoration was being light cured. This seemingly simple step makes a huge difference at the end of a procedure when the patience of your patient is often decreasing. Expect to learn from everyone; your attendings, assistants and co-residents! While that may sound cliche, as everyone has different backgrounds and education pathways, even patient encounters that are not your own can be educational. My co-residents and I have a WhatsApp group and we often share successes and failures on a daily basis (being mindful of HIPAA, of course). This will increase your exposure to clinical scenarios which, in turn, will make you more prepared when you face a similar situation in the future. Always remember that no one comes into a residency already a pediatric dentist – and that your bad days are as important to your professional and per- sonal growth as are your great days. Just the other week, my patient spit Hydroxy- zine in my face the one time I did not wear a face shield in addition to a mask during administration. Needless to say, the reminder of stickiness and the sheer embarrassment on the father’s face will always remind me to wear a face shield going forward.
Expect to laugh, a lot! The only real ad- vice I recommend before starting is keep up with pediatric pop culture. Spend time watching and researching shows, characters and songs that kids are listen- ing to these days. Develop your own funny little antics. For example, when counting I like to throw in the occasional fruit or zoo animal. Most of the time the kid will look up at you with confused eyes but you will get a chuckle out of the parent. Remember Elsa and Anna are still cool (for now) but most kids don’t know who Barney is.

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