In my book, Dental School, I mentioned the trials and difficulties of the dental school experience. One thing I would like to bring out more is the relentless pursuit of "Requirements." What do I mean? Requirements are the need number of specific procedures you must accomplish to pass or to graduate. These are things like a specific number of crowns, dentures, root canals, or two surface fillings you must complete.
It always seemed in my experience and in those with whom I talk to, that it was difficult to get these done in a reasonable time frame. What if the patient you have acquired or been assigned needs three fillings, one root canal and one crown. That's great, but you need to do a periodontal surgery crown lengthening, and a post and core buildup prior to the crown, and moreover, the only thing you really need as far as requirements is the crown. In some schools you have to get all the necessary work done on the patient, much like in the real world. In some other situations, you may be able to have someone else do the root canal and surgery, then you do the crown, but that can take a while before you get it done.
The thing I want to emphasize is the drive to get the requirements. It's not always easy. Some schools are having a more difficult time getting patients as more and more are treated by private practitioners. I know some pediatric residents that do only one or two premed (sedation) cases prior to graduation. In practice I do one or two sedation cases a day. Experience is an important part of developing and perfecting a skill. The more you do the more you know how to deal with the little variations in each case. Requirements are just the way schools have of making sure a dental student gets at least some basic minimal experience before awarding a degree.