Shadowing a DoctorMay 30, 2016
It’s a question on many pre-dental students’ minds – should they first enrol in a biomed programme and then switch over to dentistry? The fact is it may be a good idea under certain circumstances but you do need to take some time to weigh the pros and cons before you decide to spend 4 years in a biomed programme and then another 4 years in dental school.
A look at the biomedical programme
An undergraduate biomedical programme is typically a 4-year full-time course that focuses on the human body at the molecular, cellular and whole body levels. During the first year you will study biology, chemistry, physics and statistics and participate in a few select research-focused activities. These provide the foundation for the rest of the programme.
In the second and third years you can select courses that align with your personal interests. In most courses options include topics such as human genetics, neuroscience, developmental biology, physiology, molecular and cellular biology, toxicology, immunology and infectious diseases and pharmacology.
Completing a biomedical programme will give you a better understanding of how the human body functions in health and disease and how treatments for different diseases are developed.
Benefits of switching to dentistry from a biomed degree
A biomed degree can prepare you for a wide range of careers in the rapidly evolving fields of human health and disease. Students who graduate from biomed programmes have a solid foundation in diverse specialities including medicine, dentistry, optometry, occupational therapy, forensics, physiotherapy and pharmacology.
Application to dentistry school is highly competitive and you need to do everything you can to make your application stand out. The additional knowledge that you gain in a biomed programme will give you that extra edge against your competition.
A biomed degree will also give you the competitive edge when you are applying for a job. Dentistry is becoming increasingly more sophisticated and global demand is growing for dentists who are highly skilled and versatile.
Most biomed programmes are very flexible. In addition to the academic component, most programmes also allow you to select electives from other faculties so you can pursue an area of personal interest that may or may not be related to Science. This flexibility is valuable because many professional schools look for well-rounded individuals who have well-developed transferable skills.
The problem with switching
The only apparent downside to completing a biomed programme and then switching over to dentistry is the additional time involvement. If you recognise the benefits of completing a biomed course but are not sure whether you want to go this route, you can still keep your options open when filling up your UCAS form. There are 6 spaces on your UCAS form but you can only apply for 4 dentistry places. You can fill the extra spaces with 2 shortlisted biomed programmes. That way, if you do not get admission into any dental school and you do not want to waste a year, you can enrol in a biomedical programme and boost your chances during the next admission cycle.
There are a lot of decisions to be made whether you decide to apply to dental school directly or get a biomed degree and then switch. One of the biggest obstacles towards making the right choice may be that you are unsure about whether or not you want to pursue a career in dentistry. If you find yourself in this position, it is advisable to first get some dental work experience that will let you get a firsthand look at this career and help you make a decision for or against it.
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.