A day in the life of a third year dental student at HSDM

dental school DMD

Each day of dental school is like reaching blindly into a box of assorted chocolates – you never know exactly what you are going to get until you unwrap it! But here is a typical day in my life at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. 

6 am: Wake up, 7-mile run, breakfast, get ready and head to school

Starting my day with some form of movement has been an essential component of my morning routine. Exercise stimulates blood flow throughout the body and does a better job of waking up my mind than a Starbucks nitro cold brew (although I will most likely still grab one on my way to school as a post-workout treat). After refueling with overnight oats (a huge timesaver!) or a protein smoothie, I am ready for whatever the day brings.  

8 am: Tutorial session 

Tutorial sessions are led by residents in specialty programs at HSDM. Since we are currently taking our prosthodontics course, we meet with prosthodontics residents in small groups to go over prosthodontics cases. This is a great opportunity to apply what we have learned in lectures to real patient cases, as well as pick our residents’ brains for clinical pearls and extra tips that we can apply in clinic. 

10 am: Practice of Dentistry course

In the fall semester of our third year, we take a course called Practice of Dentistry in which we learn the basics of patient management, treatment planning, how to use our electronic health records system and write progress notes, how to bill and code procedures, as well as get an introduction to practice management. 

12 pm: Lunch

On an ideal day, I would bring in a prepped gourmet 3-course meal worth half a Michelin star, but in reality you can catch me most days in the made-to-order sandwich line at the school café. My go-to order is the parmesan focaccia toasted with smoked gouda cheese, turkey, pepperoni, bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and chipotle mayo with a pickle on the side. 

1 pm: Clinic 

At HSDM, third- and fourth-year students are assigned a variety of different rotations during our clinic time. These include NPI, recall, emergency, oral surgery, oral medicine, orofacial pain, oral diagnosis, radiology, pediatrics, and geriatrics. If we are not on a rotation that day, we can bring in our own patients for procedures, or treatment plan with faculty for our existing patients. 

5 pm: Head home

One of the best parts of transitioning from completely didactic classes to 50% class and 50% clinic is that the workday usually ends by 5 pm and once you get home, the rest of the evening is completely yours. Since we don’t have as many didactic exams this year, I spend most of my evenings making and eating dinner, watching TV, catching up with friends from college, and exploring workout classes and social groups in the city. 

9 pm: Lights out! 

Consistently getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep has been a game-changer in my energy levels and productivity throughout the day. Dental school can be unpredictable from day to day, which makes it extra important to be well-rested so that I can be best prepared for whatever the next day brings. 

Annie earned her BA in Economics and Cell Biology from Rice University, graduating cum laude. She is now a dental student at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.

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