Written by Phyllis Immitti PDM Class of 2022
Welcome Class of 2022!
This banner greeted us as we walked through the doors of Penn Dental Medicine on the first day of orientation. What would these four years have in store for us? Would I like my classmates? There wasn’t a long time to dwell on these thoughts. We were thrown right into B60, one of our future lecture halls.
I’ll admit, it was surreal to be sitting in those chairs. I had wanted to be a dentist since I was ten years old, and here I was. Where had the time gone? This was something I had been building towards my whole life, and now that I was admitted, I felt like a chapter of my life had closed. It was exciting to be moving forward, but I felt some reluctance to leave my undergraduate school that had become home over the last four years. Now that orientation had finally started, I was ready to start the next chapter and make Penn Dental my new home.
The first night we had the White Coat Ceremony, symbolizing our commitment to upholding the values of our profession. To the world, we weren’t just dental students, we were dentists and had to make sure we acted like them. In that moment, I knew that I was joining a profession that was much bigger and empowering than just me or even Penn. I was committing to a career that centered on caring for others and improving their lives, one smile at a time.
The next day the friendly “Crew Heads,” PDM’s version of orientation leaders, were excited to get to know us and show us the ropes. They had several panels about the clubs they were involved in at PDM, study habits, class schedules, and how to find a balance between working hard while still enjoying yourself. The Crew Heads also hosted a lot of social events that helped us get to know each other and explore the city of Philadelphia. We walked along the Schuykill River to the “Rocky Steps” outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art and flexed our muscles (after taking a moment to catch our breaths!). We also explored the new Rail Park, which was beautiful, and got caught in the rain while visiting Penn’s Landing. I really enjoyed myself and got to interact with different people at every event. It was great to interact with people who shared your love for your profession; we were all easily bonded by our shared passions. We all had different paths to discovering that we wanted to pursue dentistry, and yet had all found our way to Penn!
The Office of Academic Affairs worked behind the scenes to make our transition to Penn as smooth as possible. They provided us with lecture series on the different offices and services that Penn had to offer. I especially appreciated their commitment to wellness. We had several discussions that focused on where to find resources when we were stressed. A tutor from the Weingarten Learning Center also came to show us some study techniques and to let us know that there are resources available should we need them. Representatives from Counseling and Psychological Services visited us to explain their vast array of services and where to find them, and a speaker came to lead us in guided meditation. My favorite wellness event had to be chair yoga! A bubbly yogi led us in simple movements that we could use to de-stress after sitting in a chair all day or holding our hands cramped around our instruments for too long. We all got to let loose and learned how to do ulnar glides – which are great to stretch your wrist and may also be the hottest new dance trend of 2018!
Among the many introductions to the various resources at PDM, we also received some of our first ever dental classes. This was what we had been waiting for since deciding on Penn! It was exciting to see a preview of all the interesting cases we would be studying during the next four years.
Orientation solidified for me that I had made the right choice in choosing Penn. There was an overall feeling that even though Dental School could be a stressful time, we were not alone. We had our classmates, but we also had the faculty at PDM and the greater university to guide and support us.