A day in their scrubs

Meet D2 Erik Meckel
January 28th, 2020

Hometown: McAllen, Texas

Undergrad institution: The University of Texas at Austin

Why Texas A&M College of Dentistry: I chose this dental school because of the experience I had with the staff, faculty and students when I visited for the first time. All of my encounters were friendly and genuine, which was the environment I was seeking. I noticed how involved everyone was in student organizations, and the student life seemed like a lot of fun. I spoke to friends attending here, and they had only good things to say about their experience. I feel very fortunate to be a part of a school that focuses on having well-rounded individuals that I can learn from and build relationships with. I was aware of the demanding nature of dental school, so having peer and faculty support was important. I felt thoroughly prepared after finishing the yearlong Texas A&M post-baccalaureate program, and I built meaningful relationships with both my peers and faculty along the way. The environment here has not disappointed. I’m fortunate to be in the position I’m in today because of the support from great people.

Dental school success strategy: Improving my time management skills has allowed me to successfully navigate through dental school. I use the weekends to plan my week out in advance. In Google Calendar, I mark any important due dates and exams. I then allot time slots based on how long I predict the task will take or how many hours of study I will need to put in. Managing my time takes some effort, but it’s worthwhile. My week tends to go smoother, and it keeps me on a focused plan. It also helps me avoid overcommitting. Managing my time efficiently has allowed me to free up time for things like friends, family, exercise, hobbies, etc. If something comes up during the week, I can look in my calendar and see if I have time. I don’t always stick to the plan for the week, and it often needs adjusting, but the process has helped me tremendously in dental school and in maintaining a social life.

Favorite energy food: When it’s been a long day and I need a pick-me-up, a strawberry Pop-Tart and a Monster Energy drink can be quite rejuvenating. It’s what gets me going.

How you unwind after a long day in lecture, lab or clinic: I will usually exercise after school and do some yoga. Second year involves a lot of time in the simulation lab, so exercise helps relieve any tension or stress built up during the day. I also enjoy relaxing by watching YouTube videos, reading articles and listening to music. If I have free time in the evenings, I like to whip up a nice dinner. I really enjoy cooking and trying out new meals in the kitchen.

Best dental school moment so far: The best moment in dental school has been our White Coat Ceremony. It was a great ceremony that my family and I really enjoyed. It felt surreal, especially after all of the hard work my classmates and I had put in thus far. I’m excited to transition into clinic and begin to apply the knowledge and skills we’ve been taught. Seeing how happy everyone was and how we were sharing that moment with friends and family was a great experience.

Favorite patient care experience: My best experience in clinic was interpreting for a D4’s patient, who only spoke and understood Spanish. The patient was nervous about treatment, so it felt pretty good when I was able to calm their nerves and connect on a more personal level. We talked about the patient’s family while taking their medical history, and that seemed to relax them a little bit. Both the patient and the D4 were really grateful that I was there to interpret, which made it a rewarding experience.

Goal after graduation: My short-term goal after graduation is to find a mentor who I can work with to help me improve my skills and efficiency as a clinician. After gaining a couple years of experience, I’ll take the leap into practice ownership. I also aspire to use my skills and resources to positively contribute to the dental profession through organized dentistry. Whether it be promoting access of dental care to underserved areas or protecting the profession for future dentists, I feel blessed to be entering a profession that offers many opportunities.

What people may not know about you: I am a second-degree black belt in taekwondo and a green belt in judo.

— Kathleen Green Pothier