Indulging My Nerdier Side

I have no doubt in the mind that I have always been the biggest “geek” of my friends.  Luckily these days being geeky is pretty mainstream.  Regardless, I definitely expect a less-than-positive reaction when I share one of my fun (fun for me, not so much for the financial analysts in my life) facts.  It’s usually a glazed look from the more polite of the group, and a groan or an eye roll from my more direct friends.

Dental school brought tons of changes.  A few negatives, like spending 12 hours a day on campus or only experiencing the recent summer weather through the windows in D1, but many more positives.  One positive I had not expected was that I suddenly had over 60 people in my life who were just as nerdy and passionate as I was.  This applied to real-life applications of a biochemistry course I was taking and to interesting bits of trivia I picked up from NASA’s website, a podcast, or reddit.  For almost every podcast I listened to, there was either someone to talk about it with or someone to recommend one just like it.  It was the first time I was able to really indulge the part of myself that loved to learn even when I didn’t have to. 

I may still be one of the only people I know who spends free time reading random space facts, and I may still get a few eye rolls depending on which fun fact I share (they’re not all winners).  But the majority of the time, having friends who get equally as excited as I do about those facts or who will even throw another bit of information back at me in response is something I feel incredibly lucky to have. 

Meet the Author: Sophie Cohanim

Sophie is a 2nd year dental student and the ASDA Wellness Coordinator. She loves dogs and is a craniofacial dental researcher! Her next research project is this summer as a Summer Research Fellow.

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Why I Love Podcasts

I am obsessed with podcasts. My love for podcasts began last year sometime when my boyfriend Alex wouldn’t stop bugging me about listening to a podcast he liked (probably Bill Simmons or something sports related) and thought I might like it, too. Anyway, he kept bugging me and then said maybe I’d like to listen to something about pop culture instead so he suggested I listen to Anna Faris’ podcast Unqualified. I hate to admit it but he was right—I was totally hooked. With Unqualified in particular, every new episode I listened to I felt like I was getting some kind of E! News exclusive peek inside the lives of celebrities who, in my mind, are mystical people I see in magazines or on TV. I seriously felt like a high schooler getting away with sneaking liquor from my parents liquor cabinet. It was too good to be true! For an hour I was getting to hang out, laugh, and shoot the shit with people like Mila Kunis, Jonathan Van Ness, Michelle Obama etc. Unqualified became the gateway to this new world with so options of podcasts to explore and listen to! I was/am absolutely addicted and the best part is no matter what activity I’m doing i.e. walking to the store, riding the bus, folding my laundry, podcasts transform that activity it into an instant hang out session.

At this point you’re thinking, what the heck does this have to do with dentistry? It doesn’t really, except that it kind of does—that is, for me anyway. With second year coming to a close, I think back on the challenges I faced on my journey from first year to where I am now. As I reflect on how I survived, I can remember multiple times throughout the day I just (seriously) could. not. even. As many of you know and have experienced, the first two years of school you’re with your classmates all day every day which is more time than you even spend with your significant others or family! So if I’m being honest, when you’re being thrown information left and right and you’re constantly studying for the next quiz or exam, and you’re stuck in a classroom all day with very smart type A people, let’s just say it can be a lot. So it’s nice if you’re able to break up the day and have a quick escape to catch your breath and mentally reset. Podcasts are that quick relief that takes you out of your stress if just for an hour. So for me, classes like operative became one of my favorites not just because I enjoyed it, but because I knew I could plug in, drill, and tune everyone else out while I hung out with whoever was the guest on my favorite podcast that week. Every time I struggled through prepping crowns for a bridge or I was trying not to chuck my dentures across the room because the occlusion kept changing, I was able to get through the stress because I had Conan O’Brien in my ear doing a bit about his assistant Sona calling to yell at Verizon, or Mallory and Jason from Binge Mode making the most hilariously inappropriate Harry Potter jokes (Slytherin and Chamber of Secrets, enough said).

I think what makes podcasts so special is that in this (relatively) new format, you get to delve deep and explore topics and ideas that are often cut short in a Late Night interview or YouTube clip. We’re so into that instant gratification that being able to explore a thought and feel like you’re making genuine connections is so refreshing. As we know dental school is tough and trying and really pushes you to limits you didn’t know existed and to me podcasts have brought very needed joy in these first two incredibly difficult years of school. Whether walking the halls of Hogwarts on Binge Mode or getting Unqualified relationship advice from Anna Faris, podcasts have a way of making the chaos of everyday a little more fun.

 Meet the Author:

Karol Ludena is a 2nd year dental student who is very involved in UW’s Hispanic Student Dental Association and volunteering in the community. She loves rap music and corgis.

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Cerec Bootcamp Thoughts

From James Son: “This past weekend, I had to the opportunity to spend a Saturday working with a CEREC CAD/CAM machine thanks to PDS and ASDA.  I learned that one of the most common mistake in crown prepping before scanning is under reducing occlusally.  This is due to the lack of thickness in the material when designing the crown. What’s awesome is that the software will show you where you are under reduced and makes it easier for you to correct the height! Scanning took less time than taking a PVS impression. Once finished, send the design to the wet milling machine and in about 7 minute, your crown will be completed!  I’m excited to add the CEREC CAD/CAM machine into my tool box to use in future practice. “

From Jake Ericksen: “Our education at the University of Washington School of Dentistry is rather traditional - we take impressions, do wax-ups, and do not do any in-house milling. While I understand the importance of learning these skills, I also see the benefits of incorporating CAD/CAM technology into practice. It makes even more sense when you consider the fact that most dental students nowadays grew up with access to the internet most of their lives. The CEREC Bootcamp was a great opportunity to learn more about CAD/CAM technology. Over the course of the session we were taught all of the following: prep design, material choice, 3D scanning, 3D restoration design, milling, staining, and firing. Not only was the session informative, but it was also a lot of fun! Overall I am very pleased with my experience, and I look forward to using this technology in practice later down the road!”

About the Authors:

James (right) and Jake (left) are 2nd year students who are passionate about digital dentistry and advancing our field!

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Mika's Table

Hi I’m Mika, and I like to cook.  Getting used to dental school can be overwhelming, but It’s important to practice self care by setting aside time for yourself. Some of my classmates like to go to the gym, do yoga, and play intramural sports.  My way of relieving stress amidst the chaos of dental school is through cooking. I don’t shop at fancy grocery stores or cook with a lot of ingredients; it just feels good to unwind with a nice meal after a long and stressful day.

Cooking is relaxing because you get to come home, turn on your favorite music, and appreciate some “me” time.  It’s a refreshing change from being in school mode. You are so caught up in achieving the right flavors, texture, and temperature of what you’re making that you forget about the quiz you bombed earlier that day or forget how nervous you are for tomorrow’s practical.  

Cooking is also a creative practice where you can visualize the end result and make up your own method of achieving it. In a sense, this is similar to dentistry because you envision the end goal of your patient’s treatment plan and think of the different options that’ll get you there. Either way, you carry out each step at your own rhythm, use the tools you’re most comfortable with, and do what you love!

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Meet the author: Mika Matsumoto

Mika is a D2 from Honolulu Hawaii. She’s one of the fastest workers and always helps her classmates!

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3 Fears in Modern Day Leadership

During my college career, I was involved in the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) as both a member and a leader. Throughout my time there, I had grown immensely as a leader through both observation of others and executing what I learned into action. Much of what I learned is applicable to any leader, but my own (sort of) unique experience as an Asian American leader has added another layer of complexity. Below are 3 fears that I and many leaders often struggle with.

#1: Fear of Innovation

Leaders fear the unknown, avoid uncertainty, and their organizations suffer as a result. We often repeat events, taking the safe route to ensure that nothing goes wrong. Failure to innovate makes our events stale and growth stagnates. We become complacent, lose our member base, our community influence, and then wonder where it all went wrong.

With the Asian clubs, I often wonder if our fears carry over from our heritage. I am not speaking for all Asian Americans, but most would agree that as Asian Americans, the children of immigrants, we push ourselves to fulfill our parents’ wishes to perfect educational success. Our families sacrifice a lot for us to be here, and subconsciously, we feel that failure is unacceptable. I am sure my experience is not unique and is not just limited to Asian-Americans either. I believe this mindset seeps into our everyday lives and can negatively impact our leadership abilities. It took me a long time to be comfortable messing up, but I realized that failure is the ONLY way to grow. As a VSA leader, I actively encouraged my team to try “throwing things at the wall” and refining them so that they eventually stuck. I always told myself that our team culture is that “we have no culture;” that we are always willing to try new things.

#2: Fear of Conflict

How often has someone told you that your club is “cliquey?” What have you done to address this issue? Did you actually address the issue or did you again take the safe route and ignore this complaint? Have any of your officers brought concerns about the team dynamic to you? Did you deal with the issue immediately and fairly, or brush it under the rug, allowing these problems to fester and negatively impact your team?

The fear of conflict is poisonous for any team. It kinda sounds counterintuitive right? You might think that avoiding conflict is best for the team and while that might be true in the short term, addressing the issue with all parties is best long term. I’ve seen teams try to push this conversation to “a later time,” only to have it completely blow up in their faces (usually right before a big event since everyone is stressed x1000). No one should ENJOY conflict, but it’s important to understand that conflict is a vital component to building a strong team.

Bringing it back to an Asian-American perspective, communication is an issue even at home. I was never able to talk to my parents about issues due to a generational, cultural, and language barrier. I found it difficult to even try “bothering” my parents after they both had come home from an extremely long day at work. In Asian cultures, they believe in showing their love rather than saying it. Our emotional struggles seem menial compared to that, and maybe that mindset also seeps into our leadership styles.

#3: Fear of True Accountability

I’ve only met a few leaders who know how to properly apologize. It’s difficult to do and is still something I’m working on myself, but it is crucial to maintaining a healthy team dynamic. The difference between “I’m sorry you feel that way,” VS “I’m sorry I did that to you, I won’t do it again” is astronomical, yet is only one of many examples where a leader subconsciously avoids taking responsibility for their actions.

But why is it so hard for us to apologize? Once again, this might be a manifestation of the subconscious pressures we put on ourselves to always be perfect. Many view apologies as a sign of weakness, rather than an opportunity to grow. In my past, as someone who rarely apologized, always thought that others knew I wasn’t malicious and that I could make it up through action, but I’ve learned that even a simple apology can mean a lot. Nothing is WORSE than working with someone who doesn’t take responsibility for their shortcomings, especially when they’re quick to jump on others for their mistakes. Apologizing helps set the tone that the team is… a team and not a boss with their workers.

What’s Next?

To my fellow growing leaders, I hope you were able to find my advice relatable in one aspect or another. I challenge you to change your mind set on failure, to take hold of your ambitions as well as your greatest fears. I challenge you to venture into the unknown by bringing new ideas to the table, so that your impact lingers beyond your years. Ask yourself, at what point do I stop going through the motions of my predecessors and make this organization my own? The best thing anyone can do for their organization is to leave behind an even more ambitious successor. What better way to do this than by example?

To my fellow Asian American leaders, be aware of how your background can impact your leadership abilities and be open to addressing these issues in yourself. Our parents took the biggest risks by coming to a country where they don’t speak the native language; they are the true leaders that we must emulate. Taking risks is in our blood - we only need to look beyond our pressures in order to seize it.

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About the Writer - Johnny Le

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Johnny Le is currently a second year dental student who participated in various leadership organizations in undergrad. He is the current Pre-Dental chair for UW ASDA.

Leading Leaders

John Maxwell defines a leader as an individual who blends extreme personal ability with intense professional will. He says that, “Leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less.”

My classmates chose to elect me as a leader in our first year of dental school. I gained the privilege to serve as class president for the remainder of our education at the UWSOD. One of the largest challenges my position presents is being a leader of leaders. Dentists and dental students are natural leaders and commonly exude confidence. We work extremely hard to get into school and have so much personal drive that it creates a strange paradigm when you put 72 of us into a room together. Everyone thinks they know what is best and everyone has an opinion. Being placed into this situation has given me many opportunities to grow. I quickly learned at the beginning of the year that I had plenty of strengths, but also many weaknesses.

I find that one of the best ways to lead a group of leaders is to often assume the role as a follower. However, this strategy is dangerous because assuming that role for too long can lead to too much conversation about what steps to take next or what ideas to implement. I have learned to find a good balance between leading and following. I am learning that a leader should be in control but not be overbearing.

A leader, imperatively, must be humble above all else. Ego and pride will only get in your way when trying to lead. If you think you always have the best idea then you will never get to hear the “million dollar” idea from your team. If you are always outspoken and boastful, then you will never hear the wisdom waiting to come from your soft-spoken classmate. Take a step back and realize that you do not have all the answers. Act when needed, but do not be afraid to look to others for help.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the ASDA District 10 Leadership Conference, where we talked about how a good leader looks through a window to give credit but into a mirror to place blame. This concept is in the forefront of every good leader’s mind but is something that I have struggled with in the past. It is easy to blame your team when things do not work out. But in the end, your team looks to you as their leader and without a good influence from you the team is doomed to failure.

In order to keep your team from failing, you must be a great leader. To achieve great leadership, you must first be competent enough to lead yourself. Commit yourself to a higher standard and be honest about your shortcomings. Do your best every day and always continue to educate yourself. Find a mentor who can speak into your life about your leadership and make sure they are comfortable being honest with you. Sometimes the truth hurts but it is necessary to promote personal growth. Recognize that nobody is perfect but strive to be anyway. Proceed as if success is inevitable.

Applying these ideas and principles has enabled me to follow the path to becoming a great leader. I am thankful that serving as class president has presented me with so many opportunities for growth. I am thankful that my classmates have shown patience when I fall short and helped by offering me advice on how to grow further. I am thankful for the faculty and staff who have spoken into my life during my time at the UWSOD and I look forward to finishing the second half of my education.

We should all be striving to become great leaders while in dental school. As future dentists, we will need to lead our staff and our patients – this influence will make or break our businesses. It is important to be practicing leadership now to set yourself up for a successful future.

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About the Writer - Micah Bovenkamp

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Micah is a current third year student in the class of 2020 at the UWSOD. He serves as Class President and represents his class on Student Council. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his family, reading, playing frisbee, and finding great places to eat in Seattle.

 

Fit 'n Flossy

It started with…

A little into my encounter with fitness and how it became part of my life.

For the majority of us in dental school, we have been living and breathing academics for most of our lives and the ambition to pursue more has become engrained in us. I grew up with the mentality of putting in my 110% into anything I set my mind to, and it taught me the importance of hard work and perseverance. Blah blah blah. Haven’t we all heard about that since our parents first sat down with us at the table to help us with our homework? I don’t mean to dilute this life lesson because I mean, it paid off. I worked hard, got into college, then dental school. In my mind I was an all-star academic athlete! (HUGE nerd alert)

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It wasn’t until I entered college when fitness became a big part of my life because at the end of my freshman year, you guessed it… I had gained the infamous freshman fifteen. This was the first time I felt what it was like to “listen to your body.” Not only had I gained a couple more soft spots, I was lethargic, irritable, and emotionally drained all the time and blamed it on the stress of school. I had to make a change to my lifestyle in order to feel better and enjoy life more, and luckily found exercise as my outlet. While I had a lot of practice pushing my body mentally, pushing my body physically was something I was not used to doing and something I didn’t realize had so much overlap. It frustrated me at the beginning but when I began to see results in my body and how it translated into my lifestyle, I realized I created a powerful mind–body connection that I could control. Working out was a way for me to channel my stress and anxiety from school into something that could produce positive tangible results. Overcoming a physical challenge prepared me to face academic challenges in school with a fresh perspective.

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As I entered dental school, I kept fitness as a priority because it is how I choose to “self-care.” We all go through the same challenges and frustrations in dental school each year, but to me, the important thing is how we choose to face those challenges. Fitness has been an outlet for me to direct my frustrations with dental school, but it has also taught me to view these obstacles as learning experiences and opportunities for growth. While my passion for dentistry is what drives me to work hard and become the best provider for my patients, I do not want my career to solely define who I am. Rather, I want to work so I can live, and live an abundant and diverse life that keeps me growing and learning in all aspects. Fitness has challenged me to find lessons and growth in other things in life outside of academics and has made me realize I am capable of a lot more.

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About the Writer - Jessie Zou

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Jessie is currently a D3 student and candidate with the class of 2020. When not in clinic, she enjoys going to concerts and trying new places to eat.

Instagram: @fitnflossy - check it out!

Welcome to UW ASDA's Blog!

Hello, and welcome to the start of the University of Washington’s American Student Dental Association Blog (aka Dawgs of UWSOD)! As our spring quarter morphs into a hectic beast, we want to make sure you dental-minded individuals are familiar with this new blog.

Our goal of the blog is to grant the opportunity to learn more about our classmates and share unique stories with one another. We hope to inspire dental students, prospective dental students, and other individuals reading this, as well as share with our community UWSOD's diversity and highlight our accomplishments.

Moreover, please check out our new website! It’s filled with fun events that ASDA members have been a part of and future events that we have scheduled. Plus, you can join ASDA and receive numerous benefits! 

We will update our blog multiple times throughout the week.

If you would like to be featured and write for our fabulous blog, please email Claire Mills at millscb@uw.edu

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About the Writer James Son

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James is currently a D1 student and part of the cohort class of 2021. When he is not studying, he enjoys playing with his dog, BB-8. In the near future, he wants to open a private practice and provide for his community.