In which I had my last first day of school

I’ve had a few first days of school:

Kindergarten at Ball Camp Elementary School in Knoxville, TN

Kindergarten at Ball Camp Elementary School in Knoxville, TN
(thanks Mom for sending the picture and for dressing me in a appliqué ticking stripped dress).

Not pictured: My first day of school in a new town, third grade at Woodland Elementary in Oak Ridge, TN.

First day of college at Duke (ugh, yes, I really was that pale)

First day of college at Duke (ugh, yes, I really was that pale)

First day of dental school (Yes, I know it's my badge, but I went to a concert the night before and didn't pull myself together the next morning enough to take a full shot and this was taken on the first day. Coincidentally I made great friends with Kevin Ricker, our future class president, because we bonded over having gone to that concert).

First day of dental school
(Yes, I know it’s my badge, but I went to The Hold Steady concert the night before and didn’t pull myself together the next morning enough to take a full shot and this photo technically was taken on the first day. Coincidentally I made great friends with Kevin Ricker, our future class president, because we bonded over not being able to hear anything since he too had gone to that same concert).

And my other last first day:

First day of residency with my awesome co-residents.

First day of residency with my awesome co-residents.

First day of classes in residency - all dressed down to go to anatomy lab.

First day of classes in residency – all dressed down to go to anatomy lab.

And now maybe, just maybe.. really, my LAST first day of school:

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Starting MPH classes at the School of Public Health

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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. 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 welcome summer and new residents

Our new kids started this week of orientation (nerdily called “Prime and Bond”) and we’re getting ready to say goodbye to our old residents at graduation tomorrow night. It’s been a week of cleaning up and cleaning out; finishing up last minute notes and changing the white board:

Old white board with annotations made throughout the year.

Old white board with annotations made throughout the year.

New board ready for personal embellishments

New board ready for personal embellishments

We also welcomed summer today in typical Seattle fashion:

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Fifty-two and rainy on my favorite day of the year. I’m hopeful the sun won’t wait until 4th of July to make its appearance again!

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In which I’m ready for PGY-2

It’s that time of year in the dental field when new residents come and old residents go on to be full fledged specialists. The magic date of July 1st is the proverbial pumpkin changing moment, but up til then there are goodbye parties, orientations, graduations and welcome picnics to herald the official changing. I’m excited for the new kids to get here, sad for the old ones to leave and thankful I’ve got these fine folks to call co-ressies for another year at least:

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Clockwise: Myself, Bri, Jim, Janice, Kat and Christine

PGY-2 is fancy talk for Post Grad Year – 2, to differentiate me from PGY-1. It comes with no added benefits and a lot more responsibility. Yay.

In which I’ve had a year to try it out

It’s been a year since I graduated dental school. After a year of trying it out, I can reaffirm that becoming a dentist is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Here’s to many more years of learning, serving and loving.

Chris Vo made an amazing video of our class that he played at graduation. Every time I watch this I love them all even more.

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Congrats to the new dentists of the Class of 2013! Good luck to you all!

In which the sun still shines

I think if you don’t live in the northwest, some wintertime sun isn’t anything to write home about. But here, it seems like it started raining one day in October and never stopped, so bare with my iPhone photos of the sunshine. It brings warmth to my heart, a renewed faith that this isn’t the Noah’s Ark redux and some breath taking views of the snow capped mountains around us.

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Other than some brief reminders that the skies won’t always be grey, it’s been back to sklerk (Jeff’s combination of “school” + “work”, but accurately spelled schlork).

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And to end the day, one of my favorite groups singing one of my favorite hymns: Mumford & Sons – Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing