I had the wonderful opportunity this week to interview Parisa, a second year dental school student at the University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry. She manages to do it ALL and yet has such an amazing way of staying organized and managing her time! It was so inspiring and insightful to hear all her advice on pursuing dual degrees, finding interesting research, and making sure one doesn’t get burned out during dental school! Be sure to follow Parisa on Instagram @todayindentalschool for more!
What made you decide you wanted to pursue a dual degree and why did you choose to do an MBA?
Education is incredibly important to me. For as long as I can remember, it has been my main priority. I have always been one to seek and act on opportunities. In dental school, we do not learn much about business. I believe that becoming more educated and knowledgeable about business, leadership, marketing, etc. will help open many doors for me in the future and allow me to give back in more ways.
How does doing the MBA change your schedule? Do you have to take an extra year of school or just more classes during the day or something else entirely?
I attend dental school at University of California San Francisco (UCSF). UCSF does not offer MBA degrees or courses. UCSF has partnered with University of San Francisco (USF) to allow dental students to apply for and pursue an MBA degree. The part-time MBA degree at USF has been redesigned a bit this year and we will be able to complete the coursework in 2-3 years depending on how many units you take consistently. My schedule as a dental student does become busier since we are pursuing the MBA degree simultaneously with the DDS degree. Through the part-time MBA program, we take courses twice a week in the afternoons.
What kind of role do you see having the MBA playing as a dentist?
As a dentist, the MBA degree can help teach you how to start and run your own practice, open multiple practice, lead a non-profit organization, etc. The possibilities are endless. There are a lot of things that you can learn through experience or speaking with others that have had the experience in the past, but I have always appreciated having a structured method of learning. Pursuing an MBA degree also allows you to network with people that you may not have had the chance to otherwise. There are a lot of positive aspects to pursuing an MBA degree as a dentist in my opinion, depending on what you want to do.
You somehow are doing a dual degree AND are involved in research (which means you’ve clearly mastered time travel!!), which is so incredible! How did you pick a lab to join and what are you tips on that? Do you plan on continuing to work in the lab over the rest of your time at dental school?
Thank you! I looked into a variety of different research labs at my school and scheduled appointments with at least 8 different research principal investigators (PIs) to discuss their research and both of our goals. I chose a lab that I believe in greatly, and my PI is incredibly professional, kind, and understanding. I am currently a summer research fellow in my PI’s lab and will continue my work in the lab for the next month and a half. I am incredibly involved in extracurricular activities in my school and am not sure if I will have time to continue working in the lab during this upcoming year. If I choose to take time away from research during this upcoming academic year, I plan to come back to it very soon.
What are your tips for managing time during your first year of dental school? It sounds like there are so many things to be doing at once (getting to know a new place and new people, classes, clubs, etc.) and only so many hours in a day!
That is very true! You can’t do everything, but I know that I am the type that tries to. My main advice is to first find what you are passionate about. Seek your opportunities and prioritize accordingly. Choose what you really want to be involved with and manage your time around your activities. A lot happens during your first year of dental school: meeting new people, familiarizing yourself with a new city, endless exams, limitless volunteer opportunities, countless extracurricular activities, etc. Write down what you want to do and keep a schedule. I always have a list of things to do written down in my phone to help remind myself of how much time I have to do certain things. I also think it is incredibly important to take care of yourself, so make sure to make that time! Don’t overwhelm yourself. Remember that it is okay to say no. Most importantly, prioritize yourself and choose what you want to put after that. Time management is a trial and error process. Just keep making the effort!
What is one thing you wish you knew when you started D1?
One thing that I hope everyone knows going into D1 year is that you are not alone. Dental school is stressful. Life happens. Sometimes, it is very difficult to juggle and balance everything that you have going on. I think it is important to remember that everybody is facing their own set of struggles and there is a cohort of other people facing similar challenges as you. Reach out to them. Spend time with them. Go out with them and don’t talk about school. Although dental school can feel like your entire life, remember that it is only a part of your life. Make sure that you are still enjoying everything that life has to offer and that you are taking care of yourself. Sleep. Eat. Exercise. Relax. Enjoy.
What does a typical weekend look like for you?
A typical weekend for me includes exercising (whether that be going for a run, to the gym, etc.), participating in an event (volunteer, mentor, tutor, etc.), watching shows, spending time with friends, studying, and grocery shopping. I think that one thing that people think is that people in professional school are studying or working 24/7, but that is not true. Burning out is a real thing, which is why it is so important to take breaks and make time for yourself to do the things that make you whole. I am a firm believer in people being able to do it all, so long as they master the art of time management, however that may look in their lives.
What are some of your favorite things to do when you’re not in class?
I chose to attend UCSF because of the school itself as well as the city. I lived in Southern California my whole life prior to attending UCSF, so my favorite thing to do outside of class is to explore the city with my friends. There is so much to do here and so much to see!
If there was one thing you wish you had more time for out of class, what would it be?
I wish I had more time to spend with my family. Although I talk to my family over the phone and occasionally seeing them in person, I feel like spending time with my loved ones is one thing that I always wish I could have more time for.
Thanks so much again Parisa!
If you’re a dental school student, someone out of dental school, or someone working in the dental field and are interested in sharing your perspective, I’d LOVE to hear from you! I’m hoping to share a Wisdom Tooth Weekend every couple of weeks!