Getting dentistry work experience... what are your options?

March 24, 2016

Anaesthetist (3)

Becoming a dentist takes eight years after high school. After earning a bachelor’s degree, four years of dental school is next. Although it is a lot of work, a dental career can be financially and personally rewarding. But before committing to becoming a dentist, it’s a good idea to get some dentistry experience.

Dentistry experience can reinforce your desire to become a dentist and motivate you to do well in school to meet your goals. It can also help students figure out if being a dentist is not a good career fit.

You have a few different options when it comes to getting dentistry experience including internships, volunteering, shadowing and summer research programs: all are great ways to learn more about the profession.

Shadowing or dental internships can help you understand the pros and cons of working as a dentist. It can also provide you with insight on the differences between dental specialists.

So how do you choose which dentistry experience is best? Start by considering your objectives. For instance, are you trying to gain volunteer hours for your college application? or learn more about career options? Maybe your primary goal is to determine if you’re a good fit for the profession. Identifying your objectives may help you choose which type of dentistry experience is best.

Once you decide what kind of experience would be the most rewarding and beneficial, you might wonder where to begin. If you’re hoping to shadow a dentist, you might consider talking to your own practitioner. Your dentist may welcome students and be happy to have you observe. Another option is to speak with your school counselor about internship opportunities at dental clinics or dental practices. Shadowing programs are a good choice to get dentistry experience, especially if you want to combine it with global travel and personal development.

Regardless of which experience you choose, there are a number of things to keep in mind. If possible, try to get exposure to different dental practices including general dentistry and specialties, such as oral surgery and orthodontics. Seeing different specialties can provide you with a well-rounded experience and help you understand how different practices operate.

To get the most from your experience, ask questions and soak up all the information you can. Keep a journal so you can jot down interesting aspects about the profession that you want to research later.

Also, it’s important to remember, a dental practice is a business. It’s essential to be professional and be flexible about what you are allowed to observe. Remember, a dentist’s first obligation is to their patients. So always be mindful of when you ask questions and adhere to patient privacy laws.

If you opt for a pre-dental internship, make sure you know what hours are expected and maintain a commitment to the process. If you don’t give it your all, you’re cheating yourself out of getting the most you can from the experience. Plus, your mentor may be a great choice to write you a letter of recommendation in the future for college or dental school. Don’t blow it by doing a poor job or acting unprofessionally.

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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists and physician assistants – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.