Is work experience important for dentists?

June 13, 2016

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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For anyone considering a career in dentistry, acquiring dentistry work experience is right up there with earning good academic grades in high school. There are two compelling reasons why work experience is so important – First, it allows you to gain valuable insight into this profession and second, it is a central part of your application to dental school.

The value of work experience for personal growth

If you are interested in becoming a dentist, the first thing you are likely to do is go online and read up on everything that is relevant to the field – criteria for getting into dental school, how long you would need to spend in dental school, what the job entails, how much you are likely to earn a year and a myriad of other details.

However, no matter how much you read on life as a dentist or how to become one, the views and opinions are still somebody else’s. You may have a completely different perspective. There’s no way to form a realistic picture of the profession other than by getting a first-hand look at what is involved and this is where dentistry work experience comes in.

As you follow and observe a dentist at work over a period of time and watch them interacting with patients, carrying out various procedures and working with a team to provide proper dental care to patients, you will get a good idea of what working in this field truly is like.

After a few days of observation, you will also begin to form a more definite opinion about what you like and you do not like about working as a dentist. You can then compare the pros and cons as they relate to you and either confirm your interest in the career or highlight that it is not the right path for you.

Studying to be a dentist is a long and rigorous programme. Confirming your interest and suitability to the career is the primary goal of your work experience. It also gives you great material on which to base your personal statement for dental school.

Why universities want applicants to get work experience

While dentistry work experience used to be optional until a few years ago, today most universities across the UK list it as a mandatory requirement for applying to their dental school. This is because they want to know whether you are aware of the inherent challenges of the profession and are still interested in going ahead.

Students who apply without having any work experience are more likely to be unprepared for the challenges ahead and are also more likely to drop out of the programme midway. On the other hand, students who have spent time either shadowing a dentist or doing a dental placement to get some dentistry work experience, are more likely to stay the course as they are better prepared to overcome any difficulties that come their way.

When looking for dentistry work experience, it is important to note that the majority of dental schools require applicants to have at least 2 weeks experience in a general Dentistry Practice. Work experience in other dental specialties is beneficial but not mandatory.



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