contentedness

2+ Year Member
Aug 18, 2015
6
0
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided), Pre-Dental
First off, I thank you for anyone who takes the time to read this.

I will be starting my fourth year of college in September. My first year I was a computer major, then at the start of my second year, I switched to being a biology major with the goal of becoming a dentist. I was about 17 at the time and did not give much thoughts about the future or career choices. When I first choose dentistry, my main reason was that it was good paying, has flexible hours, provides a service that give people self-esteem and joy, and mostly importantly, I have confident that I can be, because I am good at memorization. So all I focused on was the result, but never really thought about the process of becoming a dentist and the obstacles that come with it, such as the intense schooling (I have only taken 13 units per quarters with a non-health care related job on the side), the amount of debts that I will be in at the end, the management aspects of being a private practitioner, and the stress that comes with dealing with people and money. I have no particular interest in teeth. I have done 50+ hours of shadowing between general dentists and orthodontist at a dental group. I liked the atmosphere, got to see many procedures and had some hands-on experiences. I do like dentistry in regards to providing care, but I am having trouble deciding if this is worth it for myself as I have not done much exploration of other fields and am just starting to realize that I am growing up and these are my own responsibilities. I am not sure at all if Dentistry is the right for me, but it is the only career choice that I have experience of. I have looked into dental hygiene and think its a good alternative, but there are lots of doubts in job security as well.

My question is that was it my wishful thinking in the first place or self-doubt right now that is making this a hard decision? I cannot say dentistry is something that I love, but I can tolerate it. I fear that I will regret not going for dental school and regret that I am going into something that I may not want to do for a good amount of my life.

My current GPA is about 3.82 and am starting to take upper-division science courses. A bit background story is I moved from Hong Kong to United State in 2004 and had some problems with insecurities and low self-esteem throughout these year span, but I have begin to open up more socially and am building that self-confident up.

Any advice is welcomed and appreciated, thanks in advance!
 

RuffDay

5+ Year Member
Apr 9, 2015
785
357
Status
Dental Student
You can definitely choose dentistry for the flexible schedule and good pay, but you also would have to love your job.

Based on your description, I am not sure how enthusiastic you are for dentistry. 50 hours of shadowing should give you a general idea if you can imagine pursuing this career. Have you thought of any other career options? College is a time to explore different opportunities and it is a stepping stone to find your career. Try to explore optometry, medical, physician assistant, occupational therapist, pharmacy, physical therapist, and veterinarian. You can explore until you find something that you are passionate about. I know I used to be pre-pharmacy, and really thought I wanted to become a pharmacist. I had my self-doubts just as you did, and began shadowing different career options. Then eventually, I came to dentistry, and loved it!

Oh, and by the way don't let the difficult obstacles discourage you from becoming what you want to be. Every career is difficult in their own way.

Good luck!
 

changtw

2+ Year Member
Jun 5, 2015
321
284
Status
Dental Student
Hi :)

It's good to see you approaching your future with such care and rational thinking.

Just some food for thought: I'm 27, and while I'm still finishing up schooling, many of my friends have been out in their fields for a good 4-5 years. The ones that went into a profession they were fairly certain they loved are still going strong in their respective fields. However, of those that were unsure, some remain in their fields hating life (and you can see the toll its taken on them), while others have switched gears and pursued a different profession and/or gone back to school.

One thing that stuck out to me from your post was the mention of debt. That's a HUGE thing to consider. Even for dental hygiene programs, the cost can be extremely high. Not quite as high as dental school, but still a few hundred grand from some of the programs my friends have attended.

I hope you go into this without worrying about timing -- those intrusive negative thoughts that force you to compare yourself to your friends and peers, or worrying that you're getting older and absolutely need to settle in on a decision right this second.

If dentistry is something you're considering, great! But if you're doubtful about the decision, the best way to go about it is to allocate more time towards shadowing, and I mean a significant amount of time. Dental schools may require anywhere from 30-100 hours shadowing, but I firmly believe this is not enough to make the type of decision you will have to make. If you have the freedom to do so, and this is something weighing heavily on your mind, perhaps you should try shadowing/assisting at the dental office a few consecutive days a week for longer hours (> 4 or 5) so you can really get a sense of what to expect.
 
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contentedness

2+ Year Member
Aug 18, 2015
6
0
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided), Pre-Dental
You can definitely choose dentistry for the flexible schedule and good pay, but you also would have to love your job.

Based on your description, I am not sure how enthusiastic you are for dentistry. 50 hours of shadowing should give you a general idea if you can imagine pursuing this career. Have you thought of any other career options? College is a time to explore different opportunities and it is a stepping stone to find your career. Try to explore optometry, medical, physician assistant, occupational therapist, pharmacy, physical therapist, and veterinarian. You can explore until you find something that you are passionate about. I know I used to be pre-pharmacy, and really thought I wanted to become a pharmacist. I had my self-doubts just as you did, and began shadowing different career options. Then eventually, I came to dentistry, and loved it!

Oh, and by the way don't let the difficult obstacles discourage you from becoming what you want to be. Every career is difficult in their own way.

Good luck!
Thanks for replying,

Yeah, I agree that college is a time to explore and try to find my career path. It sucks that I have not been taking initiatives on the opportunities at hands, but I will definitely be more open to new experiences and just explore different career paths to see if anything strikes in the starting fall. My wishful thinking from the past had me thinking that there's got to be a dream career that is easy and requires little work, but I see through it now that every career has its own difficulties and its up to me to decide if it will be worth it.
 

contentedness

2+ Year Member
Aug 18, 2015
6
0
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided), Pre-Dental
Hi :)

It's good to see you approaching your future with such care and rational thinking.

Just some food for thought: I'm 27, and while I'm still finishing up schooling, many of my friends have been out in their fields for a good 4-5 years. The ones that went into a profession they were fairly certain they loved are still going strong in their respective fields. However, of those that were unsure, some remain in their fields hating life (and you can see the toll its taken on them), while others have switched gears and pursued a different profession and/or gone back to school.

One thing that stuck out to me from your post was the mention of debt. That's a HUGE thing to consider. Even for dental hygiene programs, the cost can be extremely high. Not quite as high as dental school, but still a few hundred grand from some of the programs my friends have attended.

I hope you go into this without worrying about timing -- those intrusive negative thoughts that force you to compare yourself to your friends and peers, or worrying that you're getting older and absolutely need to settle in on a decision right this second.

If dentistry is something you're considering, great! But if you're doubtful about the decision, the best way to go about it is to allocate more time towards shadowing, and I mean a significant amount of time. Dental schools may require anywhere from 30-100 hours shadowing, but I firmly believe this is not enough to make the type of decision you will have to make. If you have the freedom to do so, and this is something weighing heavily on your mind, perhaps you should try shadowing/assisting at the dental office a few consecutive days a week for longer hours (> 4 or 5) so you can really get a sense of what to expect.
Thanks for replying!

You are right about me worrying about timing, it was actually the thought that I am finishing up with school in approximately 2 years that made me feel the need to decide on a career path to have some direction in life. At the start of the summer, I got pretty down about my sudden realization about the career and started to think in negative patterns (self-doubt, stress). I have been taking it easy on myself lately though, because I know that trying to figure out by purely researching and thinking is not really going to take me anywhere. I definitely need to do some more shadowing to get a solid feel. I don't want myself to be in a position where I spend the effort and time to become something that I am unsure of and end up hating life because of the choice that I made. Thank for your advice, it helped!
 

doc toothache

10+ Year Member
Jan 17, 2006
8,241
2,397
Status
Dentist
When you find the "dream career" that is:
1 easy
2. Requires little work
3. Pay is better than winning the lottery every year
can you share it? Some may be thinking of switching career. Hoping that additional shadowing hours will help is like hoping that some of the patrons will start looking better as 2 am approaches.
 
Nov 22, 2014
1,574
805
Status
Non-Student
From what you have posted, I think a career in nursing might be a better option but it's a bit late to go down that path. Maybe dental hygiene if you want to stay in the dental world but not have the responsibilities of your own practice? Again, it will require more schooling but you have a start anyway. What about sales? Would you be interested in medical sales?
 

contentedness

2+ Year Member
Aug 18, 2015
6
0
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided), Pre-Dental
When you find the "dream career" that is:
1 easy
2. Requires little work
3. Pay is better than winning the lottery every year
can you share it? Some may be thinking of switching career. Hoping that additional shadowing hours will help is like hoping that some of the patrons will start looking better as 2 am approaches.
Thanks for your input Doc,

It was irrational for me to think that way. I am exploring other fields and hopefully get some experiences on the ones I am interested in to help with my decision. Shadowing more might or might not help, but I would agree that there is a part of me that hope the additional hours might spark something up in me that I have not known.
 

contentedness

2+ Year Member
Aug 18, 2015
6
0
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided), Pre-Dental
From what you have posted, I think a career in nursing might be a better option but it's a bit late to go down that path. Maybe dental hygiene if you want to stay in the dental world but not have the responsibilities of your own practice? Again, it will require more schooling but you have a start anyway. What about sales? Would you be interested in medical sales?
Hey ajj70,

I have not looked into medical sales before, but I am open to suggestions. Could you do me a favor and send me some related materials that I can take a look at? Thanks!
 
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