In which I catch up on random things I took pictures of

When finally getting back to posting on the blog I realized that I had taken a lot of random photos of how crazy life has been over the past few months. In between going to Boston, my brother visiting, a quick trip to San Francisco and finishing up the academic year, I managed to sneak a lot of other things in! Here is an update, mostly in pictures:

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I did some mentoring for the women of the Beta chapter of Delta Gamma at UW one evening. Basically I spoke about being a dentist and a scientist and the steps that got me to where I am.

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I don’t think of myself as old enough or experienced enough to be a mentor.. so I felt a little weird when they asked me to come speak. Turns out that 29 is a good enough age for someone who is trying to figure things out at 21; it’s a long 8 years of difference. I have felt kind of bad not being as an involved alumna as I could be. DG was an amazing part of my college experience and I still keep in touch with a lot of the Beta Thetas from Duke. One of whom I was chatting with the other day about feeling guilty for not helping out with the local chapter a lot because between two masters degree programs, a residency, Junior League, and trying to maintain some sanity there just wasn’t room. She graciously reminded me that DG would always be there, when I was ready. And that’s a really comforting thing to know. I hope that this is the beginning of my re-involvement with these dear sisters.

Peace Park - I saw this statue while walking to a rotation with Pediatrics the other day. It is a sculpture of Sadako Sasaki who was 2 years old when the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima. She later died of leukemia caused by the radiation and is a symbol of the innocent victims of war.

Peace Park – I saw this statue while walking to a rotation with Pediatrics the other day. It is a sculpture of Sadako Sasaki who was 2 years old when the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima. She later died of leukemia caused by the radiation and is a symbol of the innocent victims of war.

My lab experiments are going well! After taken a hiatus in June in collecting data, I'm back and hoping to make a large dent in the number of patients I enroll by the end of summer.

My lab experiments are going well! After taken a hiatus in June in collecting data, I’m back and hoping to make a large dent in the number of patients I enroll by the end of summer.

Getting ready to collect some data.

Getting ready to collect some data. Please note the camping head lamp I use in place of an actual dental lamp to see inside the mouth. We’re not fancy here.

I even presented my thesis data at the Society for Perinatal and Pediatric Epidemiology Research conference in Seattle in June.

I even presented my thesis data at the Society for Perinatal and Pediatric Epidemiology Research conference in Seattle in June.

The Junior League girls and I went on the Cycle Saloon - a large group bicycle you peddle as a group to visit different breweries in the Ballard area. http://thecyclesaloon.com

The Junior League girls and I went on the Cycle Saloon – a large group bicycle you peddle as a group to visit different breweries in the Ballard area. http://thecyclesaloon.com

One of my favorites was Stoup

One of my favorites was Stoup

It has a great indoor/outdoor space to taste their different brews

It has a great indoor/outdoor space to taste their different brews

Also, their glasses looked like small graduated cylinders which the nerd in me loved.

Also, their glasses looked like small graduated cylinders which the nerd in me loved.

Annie and I finished up the third and final class of biostats and with that our first year of the MPH program! Whoo! Here we are studying at Forza in Greenlake with the setting sun.

Annie and I finished up the third and final class of biostats and with that our first year of the MPH program! Whoo! Here we are studying at Forza in Greenlake with the setting sun.

I took a quiz the other day that was "How Seattle are you?" Answer: Very much. One of the questions was "Do you love your neighborhood and think it's better than all the other neighborhoods and defend it as such?" Yep, I love the Greenlake/Wallingford area a lot. How can you not with little cool libraries like this in neighbor's yards?

I took a quiz the other day that was “How Seattle are you?” Answer: Very much. One of the questions was “Do you love your neighborhood and think it’s better than all the other neighborhoods and defend it as such?” Yep, I love the Greenlake/Wallingford area a lot. How can you not with little cool libraries like this in neighbor’s yards?

And clever graffiti in the roundabouts?

And clever graffiti in the roundabouts?

And bars who take your picture for the wall because your little brother really wants to be a part of it? The Moon Temple even printed out an extra photo for me to send to Graham.

And bars who take your picture for the wall because your little brother really wants to be a part of it? The Moon Temple even printed out an extra photo for me to send to Graham.

We've been enjoying long sunsets. This was taken at 9:30pm. No filter.

We’ve been enjoying long sunsets. This was taken at 10:07pm. No filter.

I've also been enjoying great rotations down at Odessa Brown Children's Clinic near the International District. Not only is it great feeling like a pediatric dentist, but it's close to Saigon Deli, who has what the New York Times calls one of the best Bahn Mi (Vietnamese) sandwiches in the country.

I’ve also been enjoying great rotations down at Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic near the International District. Not only is it great feeling like a pediatric dentist, but it’s close to Saigon Deli, who has what the New York Times calls one of the best Bahn Mi (Vietnamese) sandwiches in the country.

I'm no expert, but the flaky baguette and delicious fillings make me want to concur.

I’m no expert, but the flaky baguette and delicious fillings make me want to concur.

We've also been cook more: especially delicious lamb

We’ve also been cooking more: 聽delicious lamb form the farmer’s market

And making our own charcuterie plates (or "Adult Lunchables" as we refer to them as)

And making our own charcuterie plates (or “Adult Lunchables” as we refer to them as)

That about wraps up all the things I’ve been holding on to on the iPhone. Maybe this is a lesson to just publish small things instead of picture-vomitting them all up at once.

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In which I’m not a lady dentist, just a regular dentist

I typically don’t think of myself as a feminist. To clarify, I mean I’m not usually one to be aggressively all “women’s rights!” and “burn all the bras!”. Thanks to the sacrifices and advocacy of our mothers and grandmothers we’re fortunately moving into an enlightened era where I am considered on equal footing with my male colleagues. Usually.

Since I put up a picture of my desk at work, this is my desk at home.

Since I put up a picture of my desk at work, this is my desk at home.

However I tend to slide into feminism when I get placed and labeled as a different category because of my chromosomes and not my abilities.

In dental school I first lived in a small house in the suburban ghetto. It was great and the price was right, but after two break in attempts and one major break in where a lot of my stuff was stolen and trashed I gave up and moved to a cute apartment within walking distance of campus. A couple of my guy classmates helped me lug all the heavy furniture in the morning and in exchange I helped them with their own move between apartments later in the afternoon. Teamwork! Also I think we were procrastinating studying for a radiology final.

When we were moving the last of their boxes in the landlady showed up to do some supervising. As I was struggling under some poorly packed items she asked which one of the guys I was dating. “Oh no ma’am, none of these guys! We’re classmates.” I tried to keep my Oh no to a not horribly disgusted tone. Dating any of these guys would be like dating my brother. Ew. She nodded like that made sense. Later on I overheard her asking some of the boys in the kitchen, “So is the lady going to be a dentist too?”, she seemed incredulous. “Really? Like the dentist doctor? Not the teeth cleaner?”. Nope ma’am, like the lady dentist doctor. You know, I forgave her ignorance – an old lady from the South, it’s almost to be expected. Prejudice dies hard around there. I mean, my deeply southern grandparents still refer to black people as “coloreds”, so I can’t even be surprised.

Since then Jeff has endearingly referred to me as his “lady dentist”.

Old typodont dental models from school

Old typodont dental models from school

A couple of weeks ago I was supervising in the pre-doctoral clinic where we have dental students from the University of Washington come in to do cleanings and exams to learn more about pediatric dentistry. The typical flow involves the pre-doc student treating the patient and then the attending or resident comes and checks everything again to make sure they didn’t miss anything. Kids get impatient, so I try to be ready as soon as the pre-doc is done so I can scoot right in and finish the appointment. As I was getting ready to sit down for one wiggly patient the mom explained to her 5 year old girl why she couldn’t get out of the chair yet, “No wait hunny, the woman doctor needs to look at your teeth.”. Woman doctor. Not just regular doctor. Woman doctor. Like lady dentist. I’m pretty sure no one calls her woman mommy.

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Tooth study models from my first year of dental school. We learn to recreate these in wax so we can learn the anatomy of each one.

Last week I bought a bicycle off of craigslist and the time the seller and I had arranged to meet meant that I needed to go straight from work. When I pulled into her driveway to check out the bike a woman about my age greeted me and then took one look at my scrubs and immediately said, “Oh you must be a nurse”. Way to help the cause sister. If I’m wearing scrubs, couldn’t I easily be a doctor too? We do ourselves a disservice when we make gender imposing assumptions. She could’ve said “Oh you’re in healthcare” or “Oh do you work in the hospital?” just as easily.

Three women, three different generations and in different locations all made similar assumptions. Ladies, we’ve got to be just a little bit better, especially to ourselves. If we’re going to break through any glass ceilings to find completely equal footing with our XY counterparts it’s got to start with us. Most days this is a non-issue and I’m very thankful for that, but it’s that last little smidge we’ve yet to erase that occasionally raises its ugly head and irks me.

I’m not perfect, I catch myself making gender assumptions all the time. I awkwardly trip over police officer instead of policeman. Mail carrier instead of mailman. Firefighter instead of fireman. But I’m trying.聽I try to talk to little girls about their favorite books or sports, not their favorite dress or shoes. Gender equality is just a muscle that needs to be exercised often enough until it’s second nature. If we do it enough, maybe our daughters won’t have to.

Let’s love and think highly enough of ourselves to do that, okay girls?

In which we go on a tour

Last Saturday the dental residents got to go on a tour of the new Building of Hope at Seattle Children’s Hospital that will house the brand new Emergency Department. Forgive me for not taking more pictures, but I was so enraptured by the vastness, the planning, the prettiness, the thought out flow, the detail, the design, the 24-hour Starbucks!, the resources, the sparkling brand newness of the thing that I totally forgot to take a lot. Here are some pictures, plus some I stole from my co-resident David’s phone:

First years on tour: Janice, Christine, Jim, myself and Kat

First years on tour: Janice, Christine, Jim, myself and Kat

This view will be prettier when the clouds are gone

This view will be prettier when the clouds are gone

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Kat and I

Kat and I

I was a little late because I stopped to return a page since I was on call. But I brought doughnuts! So all was forgiven.

I was a little late because I stopped to return a page since I was on call. But I brought doughnuts! So all was forgiven.

We start seeing patients in the new ED soon – which will be a big change from how our call works now. Currently we go get them from the ED, bring the back to the dental clinic and patch them up and take them back. The new ED will be too far away to do that easily, so we’ll be doing a lot of treatment there. The doors to “our” bay aren’t scream proof. We checked.

This point was hammered home on Saturday night when Kat and I spent some time in the ED for a trauma patient.. we were discussing different treatment options with the attending that night and he made the comment that he guess he didn’t realized how hard our jobs were. In their eyes, we pick up the patient, take them away and bring them back all fixed up. No big deal. They don’t witness all the behavior management and sometimes the wealth of crying, that happens when we’re away treating a kid that’s had a rough day. I hope they’re ready for us to bring our excitement down to the new ED! I can’t wait! 馃榾

In which I report a Pin

Pinterest is one my my guilty pleasures. It’s a nice mental break from work, or like this morning, a nice procrastination from actually starting my work.. but anyways, while scrolling through this morning I found this:

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Naturally all things teeth excite me, so I clicked on it. Ironically it was next to the how to make “cake pops in mini-ice cream cones” and “jelly beans and Peeps SUGAR EXTRAVAGANZA Easter vase”.. but I digress:

Screen Shot 2013-03-30 at 9.21.19 AMThis pin, which links to some nonsense here聽is about how a parent “fixed” their child’s cavity by having them eat a breakfast of toast with raw butter and honey. Besides this obvious craziness, the article includes that the parents “checked that it was an actual cavity in the back of the incisor using a rubber tip probe we had on hand”. One, who has a rubber tipped probe? I’m a dentist and I certainly don’t have one on hand in my house. And two, they did a poor job of matching their graphic with their story, because that tooth up there my friends is a premolar. Suffice to say that this pin in my beloved Pinterest is full of quack. So I reported it:

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Now I realize that categorizing it under “actively promotes self-harm” may be a little drastic, but what if someone took this nonsense to heart? They could make their own cavities grow bigger and worse by not getting them fixed (or heaven forbid, their kids’ cavities..). It’d be awesome if my job was obsolete, but until then I much prefer to fix small cavities, not large ones that can cause abscesses and may require a root canal or extraction.

Changing your diet WILL prevent cavities (and we love and highly recommend that!), but changing your diet after you’ve already got one, sorry – it won’t. Only a dentist can fix that.

In which the dentist goes to the dentist

When I was really young (pre-K, back when a visit to the pediatrician was a regular thing) I was mildly obsessed with where doctors went when they had to go see the doctor. Can one see oneself? Is that allowed? I know, I know, I was a weird kid.

But fast forward twenty years or so and now as a board-certified, licensed, honest-to-God dentist, where does one go? Does one go? Can’t I just take some x-rays on myself and call it good? Also does it matter that I haven’t been to see a dentist since I was on my parents’ insurance at least seven years ago? Eek. Embarrassing! To back up my rationalizing, in dental school plenty of classmates looked in my mouth, I do a good job with my Sonicare, and I floss a majority of nights out of the week, but still.. yikes. Hypocrite central. Plus, we’ve got some great insurance right now so we might as well take advantage of it!

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So with the new year I made Jeff and I appointments at a dentist who came recommended by some people from work (I mean, what better recommendation for a dentist that one that comes from other dentists?). Then though I was even more anxious: Do you tell a dentist that you are also a dentist? Or do you just let it go? Which is more awkward?? My first thought was to just show up, not mention I was in dentistry as well and just see how it went, but Jeff blew that for me by telling him at his appointment that his wife was a dentist.

Note to self: Pretty awesome dental book to add to the collection!

Note to self: Pretty awesome dental book to add to the collection!

It ended up not mattering at all; Nikole O’Bryan and her staff were just so delightful and awesome. She did a very thorough exam and the assistant even emailed me my FMX (full mouth series) so I could keep it. Very professional, extremely nice people. I was impressed 馃檪 So here hopefully ends my streak of not getting regular check-ups and living up to what I’ve been harping on to my patients. Yay! But seriously folks, make a dental appointment if it’s been awhile.. we can check more than your teeth and screen you for even scarier systemic diseases (hypertension, diabetes, oral and other certain types of cancers).

And yay for no cavities (for me or Jeff)!

 

In which it’s interview season

We had our first round of interviewees for new residency positions this weekend. Seeing their bright, shiny, nervous faces made me so happy and thankful to be on this side of the process!

To be a dentist you have to go to dental school, pass several boards and get licensed in a state. This qualifies you to be a general dentist and practice “within your scope” or in other words, do whatever you feel you have the skill and desire to do. To be a specialist in dentistry you must complete a residency program which can last between 2 and 6 years AFTER dental school (which is 4 years of school AFTER college – we define “professional student”). Currently there are nine recognized specialties聽in dentistry:

  • Dental Public Health: These individuals focus on controlling dental disease on a community wide scale
  • Endodontics: Root Canals
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology: Head and neck cancer and other weird things
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology: The radiologists of the dental world
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: Focus on wisdom teeth removal and putting your face back together
  • Orthodontics: Concentrate on braces and wearing golf shirts
  • Pediatrics: Pediatricians of the dental world
  • Periodontics: The deep cleaners and gum gardeners
  • Prosthodontics: Implants, crowns, bridges and dentures

We closely mirror our medical colleagues who are required to do a residency after medical school in how we are accepted into our specialty programs (if we choose to pursue them). In the summer (sometimes in your senior year of dental school, sometimes after you’ve been out into the work force for a while and want to specialize later) you send out your application to a bunch of programs. In the fall you interview at programs that have invited you.

Some specialities (prosth, perio, endo) offer you an acceptance or rejection within days of the interview. Others, at a predetermined day in the winter, rank everyone they’ve interviewed and you in turn rank them in order of where you would like to go. All these rankings go into a magical computer program and a week or two later the computer spits out that you either 1) “Matched” which means you made it into a program and it tells you the ONE program you’ve been accepted to or 2) “Did not Match” which means you didn’t get in and need to apply again for the next cycle. Very much like sorority recruitment.

Name tag from my Yale interview last year.. they did not win points for geography.

The interviews in the fall are stressful – you’re constantly on the road, in airports, staying in overpriced hotels, juggling whatever senior year responsibilities you need to graduate and study for boards. It’s also fun because you get to see new places and meet new people (ostensibly the colleagues you’ll have for the rest of your life and who you’ll be running into at conferences for years to come).

Last year sitting in an airport, studying for boards.

Pediatric dentistry has become more competitive in recent years. Last year, the year I applied, 604 people applied to “match” for 343 spots.聽The cost of applying, flying around the country and attending interviews is enormous, but so is not getting in and spending another year applying if you don’t match. The stakes are high. So I get why these well qualified professionals were a little nervous this past weekend – hell, I was when I was in their shoes last year. That’s why I’m so thankful I’m on this side of it.

To help the applicants get a feel of our program beyond the number of operating room cases we do, number of patients we see, types of degrees we offer, rotation schedule, etc, my fellow residents put together a powerpoint on each current resident. Your fellow residents can make or break a program regardless of the other amenities it offers. I’m so fortunate to now only have found brilliant future colleagues here in Seattle, but folks that’ll be lifelong friends. They are the people who celebrate my bright days and pull me up during the tougher ones. My new study partners and lab mates. I love each and every one of them. If I could tell anyone interviewing what to look for in a program I would tell them to look at the residents and how they get along. It is an excellent predictor of future happiness in a program.

My slide from the powerpoint.

We gave two truths and a lie to have the applicants get to know us as people better in a more relaxed format – I think I learned almost as much about the current residents as the interviewees did! You can see my lie is that I speak Spanish.. I’ll leave all the espanol to mi hermanita (had to look that up).

Good luck to all the applicants out there! Smile, relax, be yourself. You’ll do fine 馃檪