Will I cope with the stress of dental school?

September 19, 2016

Dentist cropped

Studying to be a dentist is not for the faint-hearted. It can be demanding with many potential stress points, from a vast and highly technical curriculum to a steep learning curve while transitioning from theory to clinicals. For most dental students, the first time they have to carry out a procedure on a patient is easily their most stressful moment ever.

Read any dental students’ journal and you will see that persistent stress is the overriding factor during their journey through dental school. However, they made it and so can you!

Dental schools don’t just leave their students to cope by themselves. They know full well the potential stress points that dental students are likely to encounter and have put in place several effective measures to help and support their students overcome these stressors and complete the programme successfully.

Identify your stressors

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, it is a good idea to first take a step back and spend some time introspecting so you can identify your stressors before seeking help. Writing down potential stressors will help you get a better perspective of which areas you need help with.

Are you struggling with one particular aspect of the curriculum or are you feeling overwhelmed because of information overload? Is time management your biggest obstacle or is the upcoming exam giving you sleepless nights? Are you worried because you cannot decide on which dental specialty is the best fit for you?

No matter what the problem is, whether it is academic, personal or regarding your career development, if you dig deep you will be able to cope with any stressful situation that you are facing.

Support you can access at dental school

Most dental schools across Australia have highly experienced mentors, advisors, career counsellors and educational supervisors on their faculty. You can approach any of them at any time for expert guidance and advice on how to cope with your unique situation, whether it is personal or academic. All faculty members are very discreet so you can rest assured that whatever you discuss with them will always remain confidential.

Practical steps to cope with stress

There are several things you can do to cope with the inevitable stress of dental school.

  • Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily schedule.
  • Make sure you maintain a healthy balanced diet.
  • Find time to exercise, even for a short while, every day. Exercise has been proven to burn up stress-causing adrenaline. It also increases energy and efficiency.
  • Get enough sleep. Sacrificing sleep to keep up with the curriculum may seem like a good idea but it will eventually end up being counterproductive. You cannot function efficiently for days on end if you regularly cut down on your sleep time.

If you find yourself feeling very stressed at any time during dental school, remember you are not alone. Feeling stressed is common among dental students. The good news is there are people you can turn to and there are things you can do to overcome any stressful situation that you encounter.


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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.