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All You Need To Know About NUS Dentistry

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#SGundergraduates: Loo Yi Tian (NUS Dentistry)

We sat down for a chat with Loo Yi Tian, an undergraduate from the National University of Singapore studying Dentistry, to find out more about the course as well as studying tips from her. Here’s what we discussed and more:

What do you learn in Dentistry?

Dentistry deals with the study, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity. It is a form of Science and Art, thus there is a lot of studying as well as hands-on in this course.

Other than learning about the oral cavity and its associated structures and tissues, I also take modules like pharmacology, pathology, microbiology, etc that build my medical background so that I can offer more holistic care to my patients next time.

As I’m currently in year 2, the pre-clinical modules that I am taking help to equip me with the technical skills and clinical knowledge for entry into clinics this coming April, when I get to diagnose and treat patients, as part of my graduation requirements.

Examples of some of the modules that I take that are more hands-on include endodontics, where I learn how to do root canal treatment; removable and fixed prosthodontics, where I learn how to fabricate removable and permanent prostheses to replace teeth and soft tissues; periodontics, where I learn how to do mainly scaling and polishing, etc.

Timetable for a Y2 Dentistry student?

For Dentistry, our timetables are rather structured in the sense that our modules are pre-allocated, and our classes run from 8 am-5/5.30pm every day.

On most days, my 9 hours in school can be divided into at least 3 hours of lab time, when I complete my hands-on projects/requirements for the different modules that I am taking, at least 3 hours of lecture, and a 1-hour lunch break.

Labs can range from at least 3 hours to at most 7 hours, while lectures can range from at least 3 hours to at most 5 hours a day.

How do you stay productive/motivated?

1. Plan one week ahead

For me, planning works the best in managing my time. I like to plan one week ahead and list out the to-dos for the week. I try my best to read ahead of lectures, and also revisit lecture content that have been taught for the week. Other than academics, I also plan for the lab work that I aim to complete for that week.

Also, getting my priorities right have also helped me to manage my time properly. I would prioritize completing or clearing more important things first because in uni there are just so many things for you to do that you would be tremendously overwhelmed if you were to try attending to everything on your plate at one go.

If I have multiple tests that week, I would prioritize my revision, and limit the time spent on non-academic things.

Otherwise, I would make sure that I have sufficient time to spend with my family, my boyfriend, to give tuition, and on my hobbies like running. Recently, I have started to believe more in a good work-life balance, and thus am engaging in new hobbies like growing succulents, swimming and learning how to play the guitar.

2. List out your daily to-do

I think firstly, it is useful to list out your daily to-dos, so that you know where you are headed and will be more focused on achieving targets set beforehand, instead of having the mentality that I will try to complete as much as possible, because many times, you will be overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do, and might end up giving up completely because you feel that you will not be able to complete anything at all. Thus, realistic goal-setting is very important in helping one to stay focused on his tasks.

3. 10 minutes break for every 2 hours of studying

Next, it is important to take multiple mini-breaks, maybe a 10mins break for every 2 hours of studying, because this will help your body and mind to relax, and be better able to consolidate and remember the things revised, thus making your study session more productive and efficient.

How do you overcome challenges/failures?

Ever since I entered uni, I have faced multiple failures and struggles in my lab work and academics, and thus have come up with my own methods of dealing with them.

It’s okay to make mistakes as long as they are not committed again

Whenever I come across failure, I would reflect upon myself and ask myself how could this have been prevented, or what did I do wrong to make this mistake. I would also think about how these failures can add value to my life because I believe that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as they are not committed again.

Never give up

As cliche as it sounds, “Never give up” is what I always tell myself when I face challenges or struggles. Dental school has taught me to be resilient and persistent because no one would go through those struggles for you, but there would definitely be people to help you through them. Don’t run away from challenges, and never stop trying to conquer the challenges in front of you, because no one would help you if you don’t want to help yourself.

Advice for Pre-University students?

Never stop trying and believing!

Sometimes your goals might seem unachievable or very far away from you, but you need to take the first step, followed by multiple baby steps to inch closer and closer to achieving your goal. It is also important to believe in yourself (provided that your goals are realistic and achievable), because you act in response to what you think/tell yourself. So if you constantly tell yourself that “I can do it”, it’ll translate into positive actions.

Always create opportunities for yourself

I do not really believe in “good things come to those who wait”, because many times, chances are given to people who actively seek and pursue them. Set your targets right, know where you are headed, and then create opportunities for yourself that would add value to your pursuit of your goals

Keep yourself motivated

Keep yourself motivated and never stop reminding yourself of the reason why you are doing something. I believe that motivation comes from within and that is motivated by intangible factors is more effective in keeping someone on track and going as compared to tangible factors. Establish your own motivating factors and relate to them every now and then, so that you can keep going and so that you won’t lose yourself as you are pursuing your goals.

How do you prepare for Os/As?

1. Study timetable

For both exams, I came up with a study timetable, and planned for the topics/subjects to be revised for that particular day. This helped me to stay productive and focused, and also helped me to track my progress along the way.

2. Identify your learning style

I identified my learning style early, which was to create notes based on the lecture notes given to me, and add in information from additional sources, and study those compiled notes. I find that this method was useful for me because by writing my notes out, I would have already gone through the first round of revision, and the information would thus stick with me longer.

3. Practice!

I did a lot of practice using the TYS, and actively consulted my tutors for help whenever I was in doubt. For English in Secondary School, and General Paper in JC, of which both I was weaker in as compared to my other subjects, I would submit a piece of essay to my teachers every week, and consult them weekly after school to get their help.

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