Apr 28, 2009
525
1
Status
Pre-Dental
When is the best time to start shadowing? Is it best to do a little bit of shadowing over a long period of time, or cram it all in over the summer? I'd like to ask my dentist for a LOR when I apply to dental school (in 3 years), so I'm not sure if I should go ahead and start shadowing her or wait another year or two...
 
N

NAVY DDS 2010

umm...i would start now...A lot of people have close to 4-500 hours of shadowing so it is to your benefit if you go as much as you possibly can. you can start with a general dentist and try to find a specialist and then you can have two great references if you need them.

a lot of people have 400-500 hr of shadowing? 400-500 hrs of dental experience, yes, but shadowing, No. There are those who do have that many hours shadowing, but not a lot. Most people cannot stand just shadowing for that long. If they want that many hours, they end up trying to get a job as an assistant.

To answer the OP's question - I agree to start when you can. There is no right or wrong time to start. The sooner you do start, the longer you can say you have been pursuig dentistry especially if the dentist you are shadoing is going to be LOR eventually. That way they can truthfully you have been working with / shadowing for 'X' timeframe (the longer the better).
 

Matt2010

10+ Year Member
Feb 1, 2009
93
0
Status
Pre-Dental
a lot of people have 400-500 hr of shadowing? 400-500 hrs of dental experience, yes, but shadowing, No. There are those who do have that many hours shadowing, but not a lot. Most people cannot stand just shadowing for that long. If they want that many hours, they end up trying to get a job as an assistant.

To answer the OP's question - I agree to start when you can. There is no right or wrong time to start. The sooner you do start, the longer you can say you have been pursuig dentistry especially if the dentist you are shadoing is going to be LOR eventually. That way they can truthfully you have been working with / shadowing for 'X' timeframe (the longer the better).
I respectfully disagree. I and many of my undergrad colleagues have accumulated 400+ shadowing hours by observing general dentists who referred us to different specialists. I do agree that shadowing one dentist for 400 hours would be a bit much, but there are many different fields within dentistry one can observe. Only recently (in the last 9 months) did I begin volunteer dental assisting, which I feel is a much better option than trying to find a dental assisting job.

Begin shadowing/volunteering as soon as you can. If dentistry is you passion, undergrad is only a stepping stone to get there. Do what you have to do to immerse yourself in the field.
 
Jul 9, 2009
571
0
Status
Pre-Dental
I would rather volunteer at a dental clinic for 400 hours than shadow a dentist.

One of the dentist I shadowed had windows in each room, majority of the 40 hours I shadowed him was spent looking outside watching squirrels run around with a nut, enjoying the site of people running to their cars as they were getting parking tickets, smiling as people failed at parallel parking, and observing sweaty constructions workers work a crain and jackhammers (they looked hell of a lot more interesting than the drill).
 

JamesOSU

Ohio State 2013
10+ Year Member
Nov 15, 2008
551
4
Columbus, OH
Status
Dental Student
I would rather volunteer at a dental clinic for 400 hours than shadow a dentist.

One of the dentist I shadowed had windows in each room, majority of the 40 hours I shadowed him was spent looking outside watching squirrels run around with a nut, enjoying the site of people running to their cars as they were getting parking tickets, smiling as people failed at parallel parking, and observing sweaty constructions workers work a crain and jackhammers (they looked hell of a lot more interesting than the drill).
Reminds me of my shadowing! I had 40hours, and it was plenty. anything over 100 is just ridiculous. My dentist allowed me to assist in a couple cases, a root canal, and extraction, etc, but otherwise I just watched. Got a tour of the lab and watched someone make a crown. It was informative, but mroe than a work week and I would've lost it.
 

sketo43

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Aug 21, 2008
219
1
Status
Dental Student
I think it's better to do at least a little bit of shadowing now so you can see what a normal dentist's day is like, and make sure it's something you want to do. If it turns out that you hate it, it's better to realize this sooner rather than later. IMO, the whole point of shadowing is to make sure you know what you're getting yourself into. Maybe you could shadow for a day or so now, and then do the rest in a couple years.