We’re throwing it back to the dental school days for a Q & A with Dr. Jason Olitsky on what he’s learned and how he’s changed since graduating.
In this insightful interview from Dr. Olitsky, you’ll learn the formative moments that have stuck with him throughout his career, what made him value perfection so much in his current practice, and how his interests have evolved in the intervening years.
Looking Back on the Dental School Days
Q: Where and when did you go to dental school and why did you choose that specific school?
A: I went to Temple University School of Dentistry and graduated in 2001. I am the 6th dentist in my family and we all went to Temple Dental School. My brother was a senior when I started school there. One time I went to go visit him in dental school while I was still in college at Wake Forest University. I sat next to him in preclinic and he let me drill on a real molar that was mounted in yellow stone. I cut that thing up dry and it smelled so bad!! I thought, ‘I am never going to dental school.’ Fortunately, I changed my mind!
Q: What was the greatest overall takeaway you got from dental school?
A: Managing patients in the clinic was a big challenge that was different than technical tasks you learn in class. At times I had up to 30 patient charts to manage. One time it snowed feet overnight and most students could not make it into school that day. I was no exception, my little Acura Integra was not making it there that morning. I heard that my patient, who was over 70 years old and one tough guy, was walking around the removable clinic that morning booming in his loud voice, “Where is my dentist, Jason Olitsky? I made it here today, where is he?!” Still, the most difficult part of dentistry is patient management.
Q: What useful advice learned in dental school do you still use in the practice today?
A: I don’t know if I do anything today like I did it in dental school. The clinical faculty at Temple demanded perfection from us in clinic and I didn’t always understand it. I remember one time in removable clinic I had just performed a wax set up for full upper and lower dentures for a patient and I thought it was great, I had worked hard to make it neat and esthetic, but the faculty that day checked it and told me to decrease the vertical dimension by 2mm.
I had to reset all the teeth. Then the following week I tried in the denture with a different faculty who told me to increase the vertical dimension. I had to reset the teeth again, increasing the vertical dimension! At times it was very frustrating, but it prepared me for how I would strive to treat my patients in private practice.
Q: What did you learn in dental school that you either never used or don’t use anymore?
A: We had to do our build ups with amalgam. I would do the amalgam, then bring the patient back on another visit to prepare the crown. We were not allowed to use composites for cores.
Q: How have you changed as a dentist since dental school?
A: I am actually very passionate about esthetic dentistry now! In school I didn’t know that esthetic dentistry was a thing LOL.
Q: What advice would you give to dentists early on in their career who have recently graduated and are looking to achieve success?
A: Get situated in a practice where you can improve your skills. Don’t worry so much about your first practice out of school. Go somewhere you want to live! As you are improving the technical skills, take as much CE as you can afford. See a lot of different speakers to figure out what motivates you. Create a plan for your own practice, so that when you are ready for it you are prepared and know how you want to run your practice from day one. Start day one of your own practice the way you want it to be like in 10 years.
How have you changed since attending dental school? We’d love to hear from you in the comments! And if you haven’t read it yet, don’t miss Dr. Olitsky’s Q & A on family life and opening a dental practice.