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  • Writer's pictureRahul Monga

NDECC: "From Panic to Triumph: A Dentist's Path to Equivalency and Victory"

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

NDECC Clinical Skills & Situational Judgement
Stress Is Common In Dentists Appearing For NDECC & Situational Judgement Exams

Within three years of my arrival in Canada, I have dialled 911 three times. I have availed all the services emergency department could offer, which includes police, fire, and ambulance.

I have been preparing for NDECC exam ( previously ACS ) for some time now. A lot of things were at stake. Career, Finances, Promises, Hopes. I was happy with how the results for ACJ turned out.

October 22, 2015, I was feeling extremely tired, sleep deprived, having trouble with breathing and some big sensations that were in my body. My son came to me seeking a solution for one of the problem he had at school, and I started becoming overwhelmed. It felt like everything was going to fall apart that day. I never felt such physical helplessness in the past before.I reached out for the phone and dialled 911.

The emergency responders came, and they found me on the floor with my body, shivering and thudding against the laminate floor of my house. They took me to the hospital. I went through a series of blood tests, chest x-rays and other exams. I felt that I am going to hear something awful, and that’s why my hands kept shaking in fear.

A couple of hours later, attending doctor at University Of Alberta came and said my tests are absolutely normal, and i can go home. The moment I heard that, my breathing became regular, my hands stopped shaking, and all vague sensations left my body alone. The doctors could not come up with any diagnosis that day. But, coming back home, I asked myself that how reassurance could be so powerful that it could help with the sickness or disease. I did not know that I’m going to find these answers three months later.

I kept on preparing for NDEB’s clinical skills exam. Working through clinical tasks, I knew which clinical Excercises gave me the most stress. I found PFM or Full Metal Crown preparation most time consuming. So, I preferred to practice them in the morning, when my mind and body can be utilized to their best.

One day I randomly came across a blog post on Internet, saying that, every three out of four beds occupied in the hospital, is result of a sickness generated by emotional chaos. I went on to research further and came across some more scientific and interesting findings. These findings suggest that how our beliefs have an impact on our thoughts. These thoughts can give rise to emotions, and emotions can give rise to behaviors. I related all these facts to the events that happened on the day I was taken to the hospital, and I concluded that I had a panic attack.

Now let’s go back and see how the events took place in my mind that caused the panic, and what could I have done differently to prevent it. I had a belief that I have to feel awesome or joyous before I could do anything productive. In my case, it was a clinical task like Class 2 Preparation or Class 4 Composite Restoration. And my mind is also getting a Feedback from my body, which is tired, and sleep deprived that I am not in a good shape right now to do any of these tasks. As a result, I started to feel anxious and incapacitated.

The fight and flight system of my body got triggered, and as such, I haven’t trained myself to deal with such a situation. The result of course was panic. Now in this vicious cycle of beliefs, thoughts, emotions, there is an interesting component, which is our behavior. Now, I might not be able to control my thoughts, beliefs, or emotions, but if I exercise the conscious control over my behavior, this vicious cycle of doom could have been interrupted.

I could have meditated on my breathing, if I have learned to become aware of existing stress in my body. I could have recited a prayer out loud in gratitude as I had everything to be happy about. I could have hit the gym or could have gone for intense running. But, instead of doing all these, I trusted my negative emotions, which were busy manufacturing negative thoughts.

Now, what would have happened if I have done any of the above things. In that case, my fight or flight system would have been relaxed. As a result, my thoughts could have became gentle on me, and my unhealthy emotions would have started to dissipate, just like ripples on the surface of a lake.

The things that I am talking about today are part of cognitive behavioural program, and it’s not that I just made them up. So, if ever you experience this hurricane of emotions and bizarre, unwanted, thoughts, overpowering you

, identify some key behaviours that you want to train yourself in. These behaviours will act as tools to either channel out or transform your emotions. Emotions are nothing but energy in motion. Any energy can either burn things down or it can lighten up your life.

I have been in and out of typhoons of depression and unhelpful circumstances. It took me 4 years after this event to overcome my inner challenges before I could challenge NDECC ( ACS ) exam , and nail it.

It’s likely that in pursuit of your goals, you might acquire some unhealthy stress. Being aware of its source, and having a training to handle it , is what you need to pass unharmed.

Conquer Exam Stress: A Guide for Internationally Trained Dentists Preparing for Licensure


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