Shadowing a Doctor

May 6, 2016


A career in dentistry offers several benefits, from a guaranteed job almost immediately after graduation and the potential to earn a higher than average income, to diversity in the type of work as well as the types of workplace settings.

However, it takes more than just academic knowledge to be a dentist. Several soft skills come into play in this profession. If this is a field you’re interested in pursuing, it’s important first to determine whether you have what it takes to be a dentist. Take a look at five of the most important skills that you need to be successful in this field:

Excellent people skills

As a dentist, you will be providing dental care to patients across a broad range of ages, from young children through to grandparents. You need to have excellent people skills to be able to interact with patients of different ages, put them at ease and gain their confidence before you can commence any dental procedure. Because of the nature of the work, you will also be interacting with your patients at a very close distance. It is important to be very sure that this is something you’re comfortable with.

Outstanding communication skills

Before starting any procedure, most patients will want to know what the problem is and what the procedure entails. Explaining the details in technical ‘dentist’ speak will only cause them to become more anxious. On the other hand, explaining complex procedures in a simple language will help patients relax, making it easier for you to go ahead with what needs to be done. It takes good communications skills to be able to this.

Above average manual dexterity

Manual dexterity lies at the core of any dental procedure. Irrespective of which dental speciality you choose to pursue, you will be working in a very limited space. Only someone who has a high level of dexterity will be capable of performing complex dental procedures in that small space. If you have a reputation for being ‘all thumbs,’ a career in dentistry may not the best fit for you.

Critical thinking skills

When you’re treating a tooth, at most you can see only the outer portion of the tooth but very often, that’s not where the problem lies. In the case of root decay or gum disease, finding the exact source of the problem can be challenging. The small space of the mouth makes it even more difficult. Your critical thinking skills will come into play here as you work within all of these restrictions.

An easy, friendly manner

Most people are instinctively afraid of going to a dentist. We all know of family and friends who postpone their dental treatment until they are in so much pain that it’s unavoidable. A dentist with an easy, friendly manner can do much to calm their patients down and make them feel less anxious before starting any procedure. Not only will this make your work easier but studies show that patients who are calmer respond better to any treatment.

If you have what it takes to work in dentistry, you’ll find that it is an extremely satisfying and exciting profession with great potential. Unsure whether it’s perfect for you? We recommend you try out one of our dentistry placements to gain some first-hand experience.


Chat with us on Facebook or Twitter, or email

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 and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.