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Life as a non-traditional dental student

By Charlotte Georgiou, @stethoscopesandsarcasm

Honestly, life as a non-traditional student in any field is hard but being a non-traditional student in healthcare is particularly challenging.

I am Charlotte, @stethoscopesandsarcasm. I am a non-traditional, first-year dental student at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston.

Well, actually right now I am still down in Texas because my school went virtual for the first semester (so Zoom School of Dentistry!), but soon I will be up in Boston, and I am so excited (and nervous) I could pop! AND… we moved back to the US about six years ago (I was born here, but both my husband and I are really British!).

I have three children ranging from eight to sixteen years old, a dog and three cats, as well as the most supportive husband (who is actually in training to become a PA-C, but that is a story for another day!), mother and sister that I could possibly wish for.

And even with a vast array of support from my family, being a non-traditional student is still hard work.

There are pulls on our time and energies that other more “traditional” students do not have, such as being asked to help with schoolwork (especially with my kids being in virtual school due to the pandemic) and making sure that the kiddos get fed at the appropriate time.

I cannot pull an all-nighter before an exam, because I need to have the energy to be up and awake with the children for breakfast.

Whilst these demands may appear to add challenges to my already full schedule, in fact, the tools that I have learned over the past 16 years of being a parent have also transferred into my formal education. I honestly feel that they have made me a better student than I ever was before I had kids.

I know that I am so much better about organizing my time, scheduling what I have to do and when I have to do it, as well as sticking to that plan, mainly because I have spent almost two decades doing just that.

When I am wearing my “mom hat”, I need to be the queen of efficiency (such as with my infamous “10-minute speed clean”!). Similarly being efficient as a professional student is a skill that many of my parent-student colleagues also possess and which comes in SERIOUSLY handy, especially when we are considering volume learning which is an everyday occurrence in dental and medical education.

I suppose my point is that being a student of the health professions is hard, regardless of the other responsibilities that you might carry. Whilst non-traditional students have certain draws on their time, we also have skills that we can leverage to aid us in our educational pursuits! It all works out in the end!

What is really important as a non-traditional student is aligning myself with others that get me and understand the challenges that I face specifically. In fact, one of the reasons that I have become an ambassador for Landau is because this is a company that appreciates my journey as a non-traditional student and is willing to support me on my way to becoming a dentist! One of the greatest gifts on this journey is people that champion you, so for that, I am grateful to Landau and to everyone on Instagram that boosts me when I am struggling and celebrates with me when I am thriving!

This is going to be a challenging few years, but whether a non-traditional student or otherwise, it will all be worth it when I am officially Dr. Charlotte Georgiou, DMD, MBA.

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