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By Leeds Dental School

Going into fourth year – What you need to know

2 min
Dental students wearing scrubs working on teeth moulds

If you’re entering the final year of your dental degree, you may be experiencing a range of emotions – from excitement and happiness to nerves and sadness.

To help you step into your fourth year with confidence, we asked final year students from Leeds Dental School to give their best pieces of advice. This is what they said…

Patients, patients, patients

Take every single learning opportunity that you can. This means seeing as many patients as practically possible. Don’t think of clinics as a burden. Use the time to get as much practical experience as you can.

Take opportunities to help with treatments, but make sure you have patients that you see through the whole process, so you have a good appreciation of what’s involved. The more exposure you have, the more you’ll see and experience, which will help to build your confidence.

Don’t over-worry about making mistakes

Now is the time to make mistakes. You’re learning and mistakes are inevitable, so make them while there are people there to help and learn from. Don’t think of your mistakes as failures, but as part of the learning process.

Prepare, plan to succeed, and be organised

Along with getting as much experience as possible, make sure you’re completing what is required to graduate. It’s important to understand your goals, stay on top of tasks and make sure you’re doing what is needed to reach your totals.

Also, don’t bank on one tooth working out for a procedure – have lots of options so that you’re fully prepared.

Ask questions

Throughout your clinical experience, keep asking why. If a tutor tells you to do something, ask them why. Why should you be able to do it?

You can also ask them for the relevant guidelines, teaching or research that they’re telling you to follow, so you can read up on it. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand.

Enjoy it!

Work hard, but enjoy your final year. It will pass quickly, so make the most of it and spend as much time with your friends as you can. You’re unlikely to spend this much time together in the future.

Try not to overthink or stress, relax when you can, but continue to work hard. Take each day as it comes, be kind to yourself, rest a lot and keep persevering. All the hard work will pay off in the end.

To hear more from the students who provided these great pieces of advice, watch this video where they share their experiences of studying to be a dentist, hopes for the future and feelings about starting work.

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