How would I describe my first summer after dental school? 1. Camouflage. 2. Sweat. (It was SO hot). 3. M-16s.
So maybe this wasn’t a typical summer experience (unless you like to wake up at 4 a.m. to march in formation and do lots of push-ups as a hobby). As a member of the Army Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP), I attended the 6 week Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC) in San Antonio, Texas. While I thought this course would just be an opportunity to learn about being a soldier and Army dentist, it proved to be much more than that. Over the course of the 6 weeks I met an incredible array of dental, medical, and veterinarian students from schools across the nation who inspired me not only with their dedication to preserving life, but to serving our country. Together we taught each other the infallible strength of a team over the individual and the overwhelming power of perseverance. Without their support I never would have had the courage to wander through the woods alone at 3 a.m. without a light, clumsily trying to locate land markers with only a dully glowing compass to guide me (and tripping over cacti at the same time). Nor would I have survived the ridiculousness of lugging an unloaded M-16 into the port-a-potty with me for two weeks, and then having to sleep with it snuggled beside me in my cot every night. Misery does seem to love company, but somehow knowing that 400 other people were living in the same misery as me and working towards the same end goal made the whole experience one of the best of my life. And isn’t that part of what makes our 4 (or 5… or 6…) years of dental school so unique? So together lets hunt the positives out of the misery of operative practicals and really, really boring lectures, and somehow be happy just because we are all doing it together.