Catherine Ransom, D.D.S.
“The next four years are full of a lot of firsts. Celebrate those, embrace those, and savor those moments. You are a dentist in the making!”
The West Virginia University School of Dentistry Admissions Committee asked Dr. Catherine Ransom, Class of 2020, what she would tell an incoming first-year dental students. Below is the advice she shared in her own words.
To the Class of 2024,
You made it to dental school! Congratulations! You will learn quickly that your journey to dental school does not look like your classmates’ journeys to dental school and THAT IS OKAY. You are all on different paths that have all crossed for the next four years, so buckle in! Here are some things I would tell myself if I could go back to the start of dental school:
- Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. You are here to be the best dentist YOU can be. If you are going to compare yourself, compare yourself to YOU not the person next to you.
- If you don’t understand something, ASK. I’m the first person in my family to become a dentist, so learning the language took some time. Don’t sell yourself short by not asking a question.
- Celebrate all the victories, even the small ones! The journey to becoming a dentist is made up of a lot of small steps, every day, constantly moving forward (even if it feels like you go backwards sometimes). Sometimes the big celebrations get cancelled too (RIP graduation ceremony 2020), that is why it is so important to celebrate the small victories, such as:
- You made it through orientation and you received your first box of dental supplies.
- You poured your first model.
- You took your first class picture.
- You passed your PA / exam.
- You gave local anesthetic to your classmate without passing out.
- You did your first restoration.
- You did your first restoration on a LIVE patient.
- You extracted your first tooth.
- You qualify for rural rotation.
- You pass your boards.
- You become a dentist!
- The next four years are full of a lot of firsts (just see the list above). Celebrate those, embrace those, and savor those moments. You are a dentist in the making!
- Along with the highs, there are guaranteed to be lows. You fail an exam. You need all the help you can get in clinic. You fail boards. The list could go on…but if that does happen to you, remember to breathe. You were not the first person this happened to, and you won’t be the last. Use it as a lesson to make yourself a better dentist, after all, that’s why you came to dental school in the first place. Lows will come but they do not have to define you as a person or as a dentist.
- The faculty members and staff are cheering you on, every step of the way. They are some of your biggest fans and they want you to be the best dentist possible (even if it doesn’t feel like it).
- It is okay if you don’t have all the answers about what life after dental school looks like for you. You don’t have to know that now. Things will fall into place, they always do.
- Reach out to recent grads or upper classmen if you are looking for advice. We have been through what you are about to go through. Sometimes you need a voice other than yours telling you it will all work out.
- Your class becomes your family. You will go through school together, but you also go through life together. Someone will get married, someone will have a family member pass away, someone will have a baby, etc. Life keeps moving forward, and you now have a new family to share these times with. You are in every class together. Lean on each other. Ask each other questions. You are making lifelong friends here that really do become part of your dental family.
- Enjoy the journey and TAKE PICTURES. No one is sure how school will look like for you in the fall. Remember to soak up every moment of school. It goes by so fast! I know people say, “Four years?! That’s so long!” It isn’t that long. You blink and it’s the last semester of your fourth year. I can still remember the first day of dental school, I didn’t know anyone. Fast forward to the end, I have made lifelong friends that I cannot imagine my life without.
I am so excited for you, Class of 2024! Push yourselves, encourage one another, and help each other. You are in this together, all making yourselves better, so you can be the best dentist YOU can be. Remember to give yourself some grace and don’t forget to smile along the way!