Amber Hoffmeyer '22
UNE caught my eye because it's very public-health-centered, and students have a lot more hands-on time than at other schools. We started in the clinic here much earlier than a lot of other programs I was looking at. The clinical hours were also significantly more than other schools. The D.M.D. class is a smaller class size than at other schools, and I liked the idea of clinical-based externships during the fourth year of the program. I was drawn to all of these factors that UNE had that other dental schools didn’t.
I really can't say enough wonderful things about UNE. I've gotten such a wonderful education. I feel like I've learned so much. It’s hard to believe the amount of hand skills I've gotten. I’m over here doing endo, full-mouth extraction, rehabilitation cases, and oral surgery. We’re doing so many things hands-on, and our relationship with each other as students and with our faculty is really something special. The whole community is so close. It’s hard to describe it until you’re here to feel it. Externships are also another huge perk that not a lot of other programs offer.
When they say that you're going to start getting hands-on experience on your first day, they really mean it. On my first day we were in the SIM clinic with a drill in our hands. We were doing mock practice on plastic teeth. That went on throughout our first and second years. Then towards the end of second year, we started seeing live patients in the clinic. Typically, you start by just assisting, but we started with doing that and local anesthetic. We practiced on each other first and then were able to start giving injections on the clinic floor during our second year. A lot of other programs don’t even start seeing patients in a clinic until third year or beyond. We just got right to it.
I still get nervous every time I do a procedure. By now, I’ve extracted teeth maybe 50 times, but every case is different. Being able to have the reassurance and comfort of the fact that I have done this so many times before is so helpful. A lot of these ideas are really abstract when you just learn about them in a book or even when practicing on a mannequin. The fact that we have had extensive experience in patient care is so reassuring.
The small class size at UNE and the way that we interact and are integrated with one another really makes it feel like my family. It’s a very close-knit environment and community. It’s felt from all of the students but also between faculty and students. We have a collaborative relationship with faculty. They really treat us more like colleagues than students. We are able to professionally collaborate and plan treatments together, and they take what we say into account. We work together to create treatment plans for patients, which is a really unique experience in our program. I think the UNE community overall is really special.