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Discussion in 'Pre-Dental' started by Valleygirl, Dec 14, 2000.
Does anyone know what kind of experience and extracurriculars dental schools look for?
Adm. Committees like to see that you have some sort of experience in dentistry like shadowing, dental assisting, filing in an office, etc. They also like to see applicants involved in their community either volunteering in an hospital, doing charity work, or assuming leadership roles at school through student government.
For myself, I've dental assisted in 2 offices and shadowed at 2 others and volunteered at 2 hospitals within my community. I've also been on an outreach mission in Mexico assisting dentists in giving free services to people unable to afford dental services. Every interview I went to, the interviewer/Adm. committee were impressed with all my extracurriculars, especially my experience in Mexico.
Ask your dentist if he/she knows of any organization or dentists going on outreach missions to Central America. You'll get to see dentistry from the trenches and might even extract a couple of deciduous teeth like I did.
Hope this helps.
ValleyGirl, your very phrasing of the question points out what they don't want to hear. I am NOT singling you out; its a frequently asked question by preprofessional students with regard to any professional career, not just dentistry and medicine. If someday, perhaps, you were to become a faculty member in a dental school, serve on an admissions committee and interview candidates, you will have a better appreciation and understanding of why I say this. Later, I will make an analogy for you that may help you (and others) to see why this is so. They want to see a person, not a cardboard figure.
For starters, what extracurricular work do they want to see? Why they ask is that they want to know if you have any active interests in your life, interests that you enjoy for their own sake because they give you intellectual satisfaction, pleasure, for social reasons, whatever. If they do give satisfaction and pleasure you will be able to speak warmly and comfortably about them at interviews. Your extracurricular activities need not have any connection with your career interest. If asked this question at an interview, they like to see enthusiasm and evidence that you didn't put this on the application as part of a laundry list, so to speak, hoping to impress. An extracurricular activity might be stamp collecting, dancing, theater, mountain climbing...there are endless possibilties.
Nobody, not even you, would like to see someone with a monomaniacal fixation on their future career to the exclusion of all else.
In the response given above, the interviewer seemed especially interested in the work in Mexico. No surprise, that experience is off the beaten track and uncommon among predental students (especially when compared with premeds). It was a topic worth exploring in more detail because it speaks to movitation and, perhaps more importantly, motivation not just to earning a good living. Another possible reason to spend more time may have been to find out if that was just clever window dressing; possible, but I think unlikely. And I'll bet the conversation became became more interesting, lively and less formal for both parties.
Why choose dentistry? There may be many different answers. How realistic is your choice? Does it just sound like a good
career? Have you made any effort to learn what being a professional is like? Assuming your moniker is accurate, have you ever spoken with women dentists, or any professional women, about what it is like for a woman? About patient attitudes toward woman dentists? (Not all women and men are enlightened.) Have you tried to find out about different areas of dentistry? Different practice settings? And so on. In other words, have you done your homework?
The analogy, which applies to both men and women. Suppose you were dating, eventually with an eye to marriage. Would you be satisfied to consider anyone as long as they look good? Does dentistry (or any other profession) just look good? Very shallow approach. If you become a dentist that is likely to become a life-long marriage from which divorce might not be so easy, considering all you have invested in it: money, time, blood, sweat and tears.
The "dating" for dentistry is volunteer or paid experience. But don't just do it mechanically; make an effort to look beyond that by being an astute observer.
Another long answer to a short question.
Thanks for your advice and I see what you are saying, but it seems like your assuming I know nothing about dentistry or why I chose it.
You are correct that I don't know you, but I was assuming nothing about you. It was a generalized description of what interviewers look for and why they look for them. I thought that you, or anyone being interviewed anywhere at whatever kind of professional school, might be better prepared, less uptight or fearful knowing why interviewers ask the questions they do.
I thought that your wording in your post, similar to that of most asking the question you did, suggested a focus on specifics for a particular school when understanding why the commonest questions at all interviews are asked of candididates might be more helpful.
There are indeed many students who cannot articulate an answer to "why dentistry?"
without appearing inarticulate or unconvincing. If you are not one of those (which of course I have no way of knowing) you may skip over that section in my post.
If you are not one of those (and I have no way of that knowing that) who believe that any answer to questions about extracurricular activity must somehow have a connection with your career choice, skip that too.
In any case, I hope you do well, are accepted by the dental school of your choice, and have a long, satisfying career and a long and happy life in general.
If you felt offended by my post I regret that I did not make my meaning clear.
Interesting thing that someone mentioned "shadowing" in relation to getting into a dental school.
When I was in college I wanted to see firsthand what a dentist did all day in practice, the clinic, etc. So I went to my university's dental clinic, the NYU Kriser Dental Center in hopes of asking someone at the College of Dentistry if I could "shadow" or "volunteer" in the clinic downstairs. Some lady in the administration there said to me, "Volunteer with a dentist? That sounds not only ridiculous but silly." And that was the end of my dental career.
Tim of New York City.
Why was that the end of your dental career, turtleboard?
That was certainly a stupid response you got!
Why didn't you try to go to someone higher up on the totem pole, or was she blocking the only entrance?
In any event, that is the past. Dentistry may have lost a great practicioner because of that. On the other hand, maybe Fate stepped in because she had you already on her books as a physician! Be flexible is always my advice and make the best out of what appears a bad situation at the moment.
That is better than wasting life in mourning over what might have been.
Live long and prosper, Turtleboard.
If her response was a little more accomodating, then perhaps I would've fallen in love with dentistry and decided to pursue a dental degree instead of medicine. Looking back the one thing I regret is still not having had a chance to see what a dentist does. My brother, who also is on his way out of NYU, was initially enrolled in the BA/DDS program with the dental school -- he got a chance to see what they did all day. Lucky him.
I never went higher because she was like the assistant dean of education or something in the dental school. To go any higher would be overstepping my bounds, and besides, I emailed the dean of the dental school who at the time was 80+ and probably had never heard of email. So I never got a response.
I'm enjoying med school and I wouldn't have it any other way.
May the force be with you, Gower.
Tim of New York City.