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5 Gunners You Meet in Dental School

It really doesn’t matter what grades you get in dental school.  Really.  Everyone becomes a dentist whether you’re at the top or the bottom of your class.  I’ve never had a patient ask what my grades were in dental school.

Sure, if you want to get into a super-competitive specialty residency program you may want to ace all your exams.  But who really cares about super-competitive specialty programs?  Just go to a regular, quality specialty program and save yourself a lot of stress.  You’ll still become a great orthodontist, oral surgeon, or whatever.

Dental school is hard enough without classmates being rude to each other.  We should learn all we can and become excellent dentists without creating drama for our fellow students.  Alas, along the way we tend to run into gunners; those who try to get ahead without respect for others.

Some people work really hard, perform well, and treat people with respect.  They are not “gunners” although jealous classmates may throw that term at them.  Here are the 5 types of true gunners you may have encountered…

(1)   The Classic Gunner

“I’m sure I aced that one.  It was so easy!”

These people just love to brag about how great they are.  They did so well on that test and they thought it was sooooooo easy.  You know what I said after I thought I performed well on a test?  Nothing.  I went to the cafeteria and ate my lunch.  I talked about life, the universe, and everything.  I sure as hell didn’t feel the need to give an oral dissertation to everyone in earshot on the fascinating subject of my test-taking abilities.  No one cares.

(2)    The Non-Gunner

“I’m sure I failed that one.  It was so hard!”

Don’t you hate it when people aren’t honest about their effort?  If we made a sweet acrylic provisional bridge on our fixed practical then we shouldn’t pretend it looked like lightly-chewed bubble gum.  Of course if I truly felt that an exam was unfair or challenging I would enjoy complaining with my classmates.  Nothing wrong with that.  But going out of one’s way to feign laziness or poor performance is just weird.  I guess they do it to stay under the radar.  They don’t want people to know that they are performing well.  But people should just be honest or be quiet.

(3)    The Saboteur

“Sorry, I don’t know where your lab work is.”

Someone who steals or sabotages another’s work is a horrible human being.  They should drop out of dental school now.  Dentistry is a noble profession and we don’t need underhanded, unethical jerks ruining it.  I would love to see ethics violations treated more seriously in dental schools.  Expulsion.  Goodbye and have a nice life.

(4)    The Brown Noser

“Professor?  Can you check out my work with those beautiful eyes of yours?”

Oh man, I hate this.  Unfortunately some faculty are prone to flattery and flirtation.  We can find examples of that all around us in society.  But it makes me crazy to see students get extra help or more lax grading because they manipulate their professors.  In the end, this type of gunner is really only hurting themselves since they are getting a weaker education.

(5)    The “Me First!”

“I just have to ask one quick thing…”

They cut the line.  They take up more time from the instructors than is necessary.  Why?  What’s the big rush?  There’s no pretty sticker given out to the first person to finish their assignment.  These people don’t realize that they might actually learn more by taking their time.  And for the love of everything sacred, we really need to band together and send these people to the back of the line to wait their proper turn.

The line, “I just have to ask one quick thing…” is usually followed by one preliminary question, three follow-up questions, two declarative statements, and a hands-on tutorial.


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