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Having qualms about starting Dental School in the Fall...

sunshinepearl19

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Hi everyone!

I hope you and your families are all safe and healthy. If at all possible, I need some advice from professionals/ students in both the medical and dental fields.

I am 3 years out of college (graduated in 2017) and was a non-traditional applicant to dental school (I was a humanities major). I applied to 12 dental schools and have been accepted to 6 of them including some of the top ones in the country and some with a partial scholarship (UPenn, Stony, Rutgers, Pitt Dental, and NYU). I will be starting class at one of these schools in the Fall (only 5 weeks left).

Lately, I have been having serious qualms about starting dental school. I was very scared back in 2018-2019, when I was still completing pre-requisites, about not being competitive enough for medical school. I let self-doubt get the better of me. I didn't want to take more gap years, and I really wanted to just get started on some career... ANY career in the health care field. I had been severely depressed after graduating from college in 2017. I was either going to go work for Teach for America or start Public Health school. But, I turned down both due to the circumstances at the time.

In 2018, I had a very bad experience working as a medical scribe for 7 months in an urgent care clinic. It was because of this experience, I convinced myself that medicine was not the career I wanted. I later realized that urgent care was not representative of the whole of medicine, and was a very limited scope of the field.
At the same time, I accidentally discovered dentistry while as a patient myself for a painful tooth. I was really drawn to the procedural aspect that provides a dentist with instant gratification upon helping a patient as well as the very intimate patient-provider relationship. This was very different from the urgent care clinic I worked in where patients were just treated as a number and physicians/ PAs were AWFUL to each other and to staff because of their own burnout/unhappiness.

In May of 2019, I ultimately came out of my post-baccalaureate with a 3.7 overall GPA and a little over a 3.5 science GPA. At that point, I hadn't taken biochem yet and I was worried I needed biochem for the MCAT. So I convinced myself that dentistry was the way to go and also spent some time shadowing my cousin who is a dentist. All of the dentists, dental assistants, and dental students I have ever worked with were super cheerful and seemed to enjoy what they do. Not a single dentist seemed to regret their profession. That summer of 2019, I took the DAT and scored in the 99th percentile and applied to dental school in September.

Now, I'm worried I chose dentistry for all the wrong reasons. I honestly do find systemic health a lot more interesting/ intellectually challenging than oral health. I took an Introductory course on Dental Medicine recently, and reaffirmed this fact. Also, I don't know how I will be with my hands/ don't know anything about my own manual dexterity (which is something students find out first-hand during their years in dental school).
Should I hold off on going to dental school and apply to medical school next summer without giving dentistry a chance, even though I will be 27 when I matriculate? I am 25 now.
Was I wrong to be turned off by my urgent care experience? Was I wrong to let my self-doubt prevent me from even taking the MCAT and applying to medical school?


Please, any advice would be greatly appreciated. I need to make this decision before it is too late and I am in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
Thank you so much for your time and help.
 
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Alpha Centauri

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Stop wasting your time. Go to dental school, be happy, and live a comfortable life. Hundreds of people would kill to be in your shoes, especially with your availability of top programs and scholarships. Don't let your lack of confidence in dexterity intimidate you. Working on patients is 10x better than learning didactics and drilling plastic. Sure you can find things more interesting than dentistry but how many of those can you make a successful career out of?

Go to dental school. You didn't spend all this time preparing just to get cold feet. If you absolutely hate it then become an OMFS to satisfy your need to have an MD after your name

All the best for the future
 
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luisfigo

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From dental school you can become a General Dentist, Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon(MD option), Oral Maxillofacial Radiologist, Dental Anesthesiologist(train with MD's), Endodontist, Orthodontist, Pedodontist, Oral Pathologist, OroFacial Pain Specialist, Prosthodontist(repair people's facial trauma with prosthetics), Oral Medicine, Periodontist, etc. There's plenty of opportunity to scratch that "MD" or "life-saving" itch from dental school. No one is born with hand skills to work in the mouth upside down with a small mirror, it's called training and practice. Believe me, you haven't even scratched the surface if you think an intro to oral health is the limit of the scope of knowledge and practice within the various fields of dentistry. There's a reason some of these residencies take extra years of your life. Two of my brothers are MD's, I applied MD but switched when I met a dentist, there's no way I could regret that decision with all of the options available to me, there's everything you could want in this field.
 
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yappy

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If you would rather do medicine then you should do that.

You're young enough to do whatever you want. Medicine is not that difficult to get into VS dentistry so it's a very achievable goal. Just apply broadly to MD and DO schools and you're bound to get in. Don't let the logistics or difficulty of things phase you at this point; just do what you want to do.

I caution you against letting other people's opinions affect you too much. Each person is very unique and they have different temperaments. Therefore, what may make one person happy may another person miserable. Look into both and whatever you decide to do commit 100% by accepting the good with the bad, as no career is perfect.
 
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allantois

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You are going to spend the next 40+ years working. Taking a year or two more to be able to do what you really want is very much worthwhile
 
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HKSZYU

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I was in a similar position to you and was very torn between dentistry and medicine.

I don't think your concern regarding manual dexterity is really a problem. No one comes into dental school with great hand skills, but almost everyone learns eventually. It's a very teachable skill.

I think your second concern regarding the content of dentistry and being more interested in systemic versus oral health is very valid. Dentistry and medicine are very different, from day-to-day work to scope of practice. The employment landscape and post-graduation opportunities in dentistry are also very different as well. There are a lot of pros to dentistry compared to medicine (shorter length of training, ability to own a practice and be your own boss, working with your hands). But there are also pros to medicine (arguably a more flexible degree, working with other organ systems, geographic flexibility, hospital and team-based medicine.) Figure out which pros are most important to you, and which cons are most detrimental to you, and see which path best matches your goals.

If I were you, I'd try to use the next week or two to really understand what your future in dentistry will look like (not just dental school.) If you haven't already, I'd make an account on Dentaltown and talk to some dentists there; they were super helpful when I was in a similar predicament.

Lastly, don't fall into sunk cost fallacy. I think it's often hard to feel 100% certain in these types of decisions since you've never actually done either of these professions, but, if dentistry really doesn't feel right, you're allowed to turn back.
 
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mmc12

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You are correct in that regular genera dentistry is not very intellectually stimulating (drill, fill, crowns, endo, surgery). Its very much procedure based. It’s much less intellectually stimulating than most medical specialties.
 
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endodonia

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Everything about your post gives me a "gut feel" that you should pursue medical school. A lot of your assumptions from your post are true, a lot of your assumptions are also false.

stop trying to find a perfect answer. people will give you advice based on their personal experience/ opinions/ perceptions of the professions. People, as we know, are wildly different. someone above mentioned "temperaments"- yes, exactly.

IMO- the science of "bread and butter" dentistry is very weak. almost every dentist I know manages cases 99% different than me 99% of the time. there is very little standardization of training among schools and after you graduate most dental colleagues are not your friends, but rather your competitors. The medical community seems to have more of a teamwork approach as you put it. I know many people who do not enjoy being a dentist but then again when I think about it pretty much all of my friends don't enjoy what they do so there is that.

this said, ANY profession is what you make of it. the best thing about dentistry is after 4 years you can pretty much do whatever you want. If you feel that you are starved for hard science than become a specialist or get involved in surgery.

if you do not want to do procedures and physically treat patients with your hands then do not become a dentist. the medical degree is so much more transferrable to someone who delegates tasks to nurses drawing blood, etc, etc.

if you want to be a miniature surgeon and want instant gratification while working with your hands- dentistry is a great career for these individuals.
 
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yappy

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You are correct in that regular genera dentistry is not very intellectually stimulating (drill, fill, crowns, endo, surgery). Its very much procedure based. It’s much less intellectually stimulating than most medical specialties.

They're pretty much the same, honestly.
 
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HKSZYU

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It's pretty much the same, honestly.
I disagree. There are some procedure-based, largely outpatient, medical specialties that primarily do microsurgery (dermatology, ophthalmology, etc.) that are arguably similar to dentistry. But if OP is interested in more complex diagnostics, they're not going to find the same things in dentistry as they would in say internal medicine or emergency medicine. It's just a different experience.
 
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yappy

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I disagree. There are some procedure-based, largely outpatient, medical specialties that primarily do microsurgery (dermatology, ophthalmology, etc.) that are arguably similar to dentistry. But if OP is interested in more complex diagnostics, they're not going to find the same things in dentistry as they would in say internal medicine or emergency medicine. It's just a different experience.

The bread and butter of internal or emergency medicine is not more intellectually stimulating than being a general dentist who does comprehensive care. Most specialties in medicine are narrow in focus and see similar presentations over-and-over again. Intellectually this is not much different than dentistry. I'm not saying the jobs of dentist and physician are the same. Dentistry is a procedural field, for sure; if you don't want to do procedures then don't do dentistry.
 
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allantois

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The bread and butter of internal or emergency medicine is not more intellectually stimulating than being a general dentist who does comprehensive care. Most specialties in medicine are narrow in focus and see similar presentations over-and-over again. Intellectually this is not much different than dentistry. I'm not saying the jobs of dentist and physician are the same. Dentistry is a procedural field, for sure; if you don't want to do procedures then don't do dentistry.

I think your medical colleagues would take offense to that statement. Both internal and emergency medicine are some of the broadest medical specialties, if not the broadest. You certainly can’t compare the breadth of those two specialties to focusing on one area of the body. EM I would say is 80% talking to your patients, colleagues, charting and 20% procedures. General dentistry is 80% procedures and 20% the other stuff. Pick how you want to spend your time at work.
 
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BeggarsCantBeChoosers

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Bro seriously, you're NOT non-traditional so stop labeling yourself that. You will offend many REAL non-traditionals (people in there late 20s and beyond) if you keep calling yourself that. You're only 25, so definitely not non traditional. Average 1st year students for dental school is around 22-25. You have plenty of time. Trust your gut and go for med school if you have doubts about dental school.
 
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You have med school written all over you. The question is can you get in?
This is an important question. A science GPA of 3.5 may not be high enough for med school. MCAT is also a much harder exam. OP, you are already 3 years behind. What if you won't get accepted to med school 2 years from now? You will be 29 yo and still have no solid career plan. Many dentists at this age already own a dental practice. Do you plan to get married and have kids? You need to work toward becoming financially independent ASAP and start enjoying life. Time goes by fast and life is too short.

If I were you, I would stick to dentistry and go to a cheapest dental school (in your case, Stony Brook).......work hard to pay off the debts as fast as possible.
 
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Bro seriously, you're NOT non-traditional so stop labeling yourself that. You will offend many REAL non-traditionals (people in there late 20s and beyond) if you keep calling yourself that. You're only 25, so definitely not non traditional. Average 1st year students for dental school is around 22-25. You have plenty of time. Trust your gut and go for med school if you have doubts about dental school.
I don't think being 25 is young. With much higher student loans, it will take longer for dentists to pay them off.....and then they have to save for their retirements. Dentistry is highly physically demanding job. You need to save enough so that you won't need to put too much stress on your body 5 days/week when you are in your 40s. No matter how often you exercise, your body will not be the same as when you were in your 20s......it's the sad fact of aging.
 
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HKSZYU

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I don't think being 25 is young. With much higher student loans, it will take longer for dentists to pay them off.....and then they have to save for their retirements. Dentistry is highly physically demanding job. You need to save enough so that you won't need to put too much stress on your body 5 days/week when you are in your 40s. No matter how often you exercise, your body will not be the same as when you were in your 20s......it's the sad fact of aging.

OP, 25 is young. Most people who are starting med/dental school are 23-26. Even if you decided to jump to medicine, you’d still be in that range or just slightly above it.

While I agree that getting to financial independence is important, the way you get to it is important too. Some people can just go to work every day and do something they don’t like just for a pay check. If that’s you, OP, awesome. There’s nothing wrong with that. With dental school, you have a bird in hand that will get you making money sooner.

Some people, though, really do want to find the career that’s the best fit for them. It sounds like you’re one of those people, and that you’d potentially have regrets by not doing so. In that case, I don’t think making money 3 years earlier is worth 20+ years in a career that you never actually wanted.

For some background, I used to work in big 3 consulting. The money was good (comparable to dentistry), but the work wasn’t mentally stimulating, and I don’t believe most of what I did had much of a positive benefit on society. I won’t start making real money again until my early 30’s, but I’m happier for it because at least I’ll be doing day-to-day work that I enjoy and that I feel matters.

If you were 35 with a wife, two kids, and a mortgage, then my advice would probably be different, but you’re not. You still have time.
 
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Advance

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If I were you I would go medicine. A couple of students in my class started out with us just to find out they really didn’t want to be a dentist, they later left the program to pursue other careers. This is going to be your career for several decades and requires lots of time and money. If you find medicine more interesting just go for it.

Also, that toxic environment isn’t exclusive to medicine, those types of people are in dentistry as well.
 
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allDAT

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Congratulations on your acceptances, at least you have a choice. If you had a clear motivation for why you wanted to become a dentist when you applied, move forward. If you were not inspired to be a dentist for one reason or another and chose the field for money or lifestyle, you’ll likely be disappointed, frustrated, and possibly depressed.

Really take some time to reflect on why you’re deciding to do this for 30+ years. If your primary reason to apply to dental school is that it’s easier to get into than medical school, I believe you’ll have challenges feeling fulfilled as a general dentist.

As an aside, if all the dentist you spoke to had no regrets about their decision to become a dentist, you didn’t talk to enough. Collectively, this seems to be a miserable profession. Many (maybe not most, but it’s getting close to it) of the people I talk to who graduated after 2007 have serious regrets about choosing dentistry.
 
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OP, 25 is young. Most people who are starting med/dental school are 23-26. Even if you decided to jump to medicine, you’d still be in that range or just slightly above it.

While I agree that getting to financial independence is important, the way you get to it is important too. Some people can just go to work every day and do something they don’t like just for a pay check. If that’s you, OP, awesome. There’s nothing wrong with that. With dental school, you have a bird in hand that will get you making money sooner.

Some people, though, really do want to find the career that’s the best fit for them. It sounds like you’re one of those people, and that you’d potentially have regrets by not doing so. In that case, I don’t think making money 3 years earlier is worth 20+ years in a career that you never actually wanted.

For some background, I used to work in big 3 consulting. The money was good (comparable to dentistry), but the work wasn’t mentally stimulating, and I don’t believe most of what I did had much of a positive benefit on society. I won’t start making real money again until my early 30’s, but I’m happier for it because at least I’ll be doing day-to-day work that I enjoy and that I feel matters.

If you were 35 with a wife, two kids, and a mortgage, then my advice would probably be different, but you’re not. You still have time.
You are still young and haven't had any heath issue yet. Most of the dentists I know have back problems and they are much younger than I am. My back too starts to hurt if I sit for a long time....and I have a very easy job (ortho). I used to play the guitar for hours without any problem. Now, my fingers become sore after 30-45 minutes of playing the guitar. When you reach my age (48), I think you will see the importance of having enough time to earn the money to pay back loans and to save for retirement. Retiring with just a house that is paid off is not enough...you'll need to have a source of passive income. It's not easy to save. A lot of older docs can't retire even though they owed much less student loans than today grads. You will be set back at least a year for every $100k student loan amount that you owe. There will be some finnancial meltdowns in the future (like this Covid shutdown) that will slow down your goal of becoming financially independent even further.

Medicine and dentistry are just jobs. And like any job, you are required to give up certain things that you don't want to give up such as your personal time and freedom (can't be late for work, working on the weekends and being on calls if you are a doctor), your ego (dealing with PITA patients, spending extra time to calm down the dental phobic patients, dealing with lazy assistants, dealing with corp manager, have to please the GPs if you are a specialist), and your health (stress of dealing with PITA patients and back pain). A perfect job doesn't exist. An ideal job to me is the one that is easy and requires the least amount of thinking....like orthodontics (repetitive, least invasive procedures, few unforseeable complications, no after hour emergency calls, low chance of getting sued etc).

I don't like taking any gap year. You can't really enjoy your youth years when you are broke or barely make any money.....unless you have rich parents. If everything goes according to plan, the OP will start med school at 27. He'll finish med school at 31. He'll do another 3 years of residency and won't start making real money until he's 34. And as a new grad, he'll probably have to work 40-60 hours a week for a few years....forget about having a weekend off......and what's the fun in that. What about paying student loan debt? When will he be able to retire? When can he start enjoying life outside of work?
 
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sunshinepearl19

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Congratulations on your acceptances, at least you have a choice. If you had a clear motivation for why you wanted to become a dentist when you applied, move forward. If you were not inspired to be a dentist for one reason or another and chose the field for money or lifestyle, you’ll likely be disappointed, frustrated, and possibly depressed.

Really take some time to reflect on why you’re deciding to do this for 30+ years. If your primary reason to apply to dental school is that it’s easier to get into than medical school, I believe you’ll have challenges feeling fulfilled as a general dentist.


As an aside, if all the dentist you spoke to had no regrets about their decision to become a dentist, you didn’t talk to enough. Collectively, this seems to be a miserable profession. Many (maybe not most, but it’s getting close to it) of the people I talk to who graduated after 2007 have serious regrets about choosing dentistry.


So, I posted this post on Dental Town as well thanks to HKSZYU's advice and I really got different sides to the story. It turns out that my cousin's dental office was probably one of the exceptions. Most dentists do seem relatively dissatisfied with the profession and those who really had a passion for it emerged happy/successful. Thank you so much for your insight. You are right about a lot of things and need to introspect.
 

S_Diamond_DDS

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You are still young and haven't had any heath issue yet. Most of the dentists I know have back problems and they are much younger than I am. My back too starts to hurt if I sit for a long time....and I have a very easy job (ortho). I used to play the guitar for hours without any problem. Now, my fingers become sore after 30-45 minutes of playing the guitar. When you reach my age (48), I think you will see the importance of having enough time to earn the money to pay back loans and to save for retirement. Retiring with just a house that is paid off is not enough...you'll need to have a source of passive income. It's not easy to save. A lot of older docs can't retire even though they owed much less student loans than today grads. You will be set back at least a year for every $100k student loan amount that you owe. There will be some finnancial meltdowns in the future (like this Covid shutdown) that will slow down your goal of becoming financially independent even further.

Medicine and dentistry are just jobs. And like any job, you are required to give up certain things that you don't want to give up such as your personal time and freedom (can't be late for work, working on the weekends and being on calls if you are a doctor), your ego (dealing with PITA patients, spending extra time to calm down the dental phobic patients, dealing with lazy assistants, dealing with corp manager, have to please the GPs if you are a specialist), and your health (stress of dealing with PITA patients and back pain). A perfect job doesn't exist. An ideal job to me is the one that is easy and requires the least amount of thinking....like orthodontics (repetitive, least invasive procedures, few unforseeable complications, no after hour emergency calls, low chance of getting sued etc).

I don't like taking any gap year. You can't really enjoy your youth years when you are broke or barely make any money.....unless you have rich parents. If everything goes according to plan, the OP will start med school at 27. He'll finish med school at 31. He'll do another 3 years of residency and won't start making real money until he's 34. And as a new grad, he'll probably have to work 40-60 hours a week for a few years....forget about having a weekend off......and what's the fun in that. What about paying student loan debt? When will he be able to retire? When can he start enjoying life outside of work?
Well that logic slightly doesn’t make sense, since he’ll be less in debt and potentially get paid a lot more in med. Plus, depending on the med specialty it will likely be less hard on the body. I’d just remind OP that this may be your one shot at dentistry and it may be an uphill battle to get into med school, so don’t take the decision to reject a dental school acceptance lightly.

Also to all that say job satisfaction in dentistry is low, do your research. It is consistently rated one of the highest in job satisfaction.
 
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Well that logic slightly doesn’t make sense, since he’ll be less in debt and potentially get paid a lot more in med. Plus, depending on the med specialty it will likely be less hard on the body. I’d just remind OP that this may be your one shot at dentistry and it may be an uphill battle to get into med school, so don’t take the decision to reject a dental school acceptance lightly.

Also to all that say job satisfaction in dentistry is low, do your research. It is consistently rated one of the highest in job satisfaction.
If he picks Stony Brook dental school, which charges reasonable out of state tuition, he will probably have the same debt as med school. He'll be a dentist at 29 (vs 34+ yo if he chooses medicine)......you can accomplish a lot for being out 5 years sooner. I am not sure if a science GPA of 3.5 is high enough for med schools. I've seen a lot of kids who wasted several of their youth years trying to apply for med schools but couldn't get in...... and in the end, they went to dental, PA, pharmacy schools.
 
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yappy

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If he picks Stony Brook dental school, which charges reasonable out of state tuition, he will probably have the same debt as med school. He'll be a dentist at 29 (vs 34+ yo if he chooses medicine)......you can accomplish a lot for being out 5 years sooner. I am not sure if a science GPA of 3.5 is high enough for med schools. I've seen a lot of kids who wasted several of their youth years trying to apply for med schools but couldn't get in...... and in the end, they went to dental, PA, pharmacy schools.

Medical school isn't that hard to get into anymore. A 3.5 science will not preclude him from DO Schools or some MD.
 
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Medical school isn't that hard to get into anymore. A 3.5 science will not preclude him from DO Schools or some MD.
My niece graduated magna cum laude with a GPA of 3.9 and a MCAT score of 517. She minored in public health and had a ton of extracurricular activities. And she got a very late acceptance from a no name out of state med school. All the med schools in CA rejected her. If med school is easy to get in, I wouldn't push my kids to work so hard.

Going to a DO school will lower your chance of getting accepted to a good specialty program. Now that step 1 exam is P/F.....the students at more reputable med schools will have better chance of getting into a more desirable higher paid specialty program.
 
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yappy

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So, I posted this post on Dental Town as well thanks to HKSZYU's advice and I really got different sides to the story. It turns out that my cousin's dental office was probably one of the exceptions. Most dentists do seem relatively dissatisfied with the profession and those who really had a passion for it emerged happy/successful. Thank you so much for your insight. You are right about a lot of things and need to introspect.

Dental town is trash. People on there complain non-stop and seem to be deeply unhappy people that would likely hate any career. Take whatever you read there with a huge grain of salt.

Good for you for looking at all you options, however. I think you're on the right track by looking into all the advantages/disadvantages.
 
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BasicG

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So, I posted this post on Dental Town as well thanks to HKSZYU's advice and I really got different sides to the story. It turns out that my cousin's dental office was probably one of the exceptions. Most dentists do seem relatively dissatisfied with the profession and those who really had a passion for it emerged happy/successful. Thank you so much for your insight. You are right about a lot of things and need to introspect.
DT has a lot of great info that you won't find on SDN, but a lot of people there have a glass half empty perspective that can be mentally draining. Don't let their negativity and cynicism tell you how your career is going to look. Your decisions like how expensive of a school you go to and where you end up practicing will ultimately dictate your future outlook
 
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Aug 3, 2017
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OP. Tons of good arguments here. As expected .... they're about 50:50 on their recommendations. I'll throw in my opinion.


1. Although unpopular on sdn ... I do not believe in lost opportunity costs. No one here can predict the future. Every day spent is a day lost and closer to the inevitable end. The point is if you are unsure ....then take a step back and make sure you are making the right decision. If you had that many dental opportunities this time around .... you'll have them the next time around. A life long profession isn't something to be taken lightly. I started out as Premed. Got talked into dentistry. Hated dentistry and luckily became an orthodontist.

2. If your future plans are practice ownership in a semi-rural or rural town ..... dentistry is VERY fulfilling. There is nothing like running your own business. You're working for YOU. Building equity for YOU. If your future plans involve living in an urban city saturated with dentists, Corp Dental Cos . ..... then I would be persuaded to go the medicine route. If you feel like you are not going into private practice and prefer being an employee ..... MEDICINE.

3. Dentistry is a commodity rather than a doctoral service. There is alot of SELLING in dentistry. This has been my biggest disappointment with dentistry. There are times I would cherish the validation and accomplishment that comes from curing a patient with a deadly disease.

4. In the end .... make a decision that you will have no regrets.

Good luck.
 
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the_molar_bear

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hey! I’m also an incoming D1. For me, I chose dentistry over medicine because I actually enjoy the field more. For me, I find drilling and filling exciting, I like challenging myself to be precise and detailed. Unpopular opinion but I actually enjoy doing the same procedure over and over, where I make it my goal to improve each time. I guess this feeds into how I’m a perfectionist, where i get satisfaction from a job well done. I enjoy how dentistry is more hands on work vs medicine. I feel like I’m very creative and love working with my hands, so many this is a part of it. These are just some of the things that led me to pick it, but if you aren’t excited about any of these things, you could have a miserable time making this your career. I’d rather take an extra year or two to figure out what I really wanted in a career than be 60 and regret my life path.
 
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Gustavo dos Santos

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Nov 19, 2019
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Hi everyone!

I hope you and your families are all safe and healthy. If at all possible, I need some advice from professionals/ students in both the medical and dental fields.

I am 3 years out of college (graduated in 2017) and was a non-traditional applicant to dental school (I was a humanities major). I applied to 12 dental schools and have been accepted to 6 of them including some of the top ones in the country and some with a partial scholarship (UPenn, Stony, Rutgers, Pitt Dental, and NYU). I will be starting class at one of these schools in the Fall (only 5 weeks left).

Lately, I have been having serious qualms about starting dental school. I was very scared back in 2018-2019, when I was still completing pre-requisites, about not being competitive enough for medical school. I let self-doubt get the better of me. I didn't want to take more gap years, and I really wanted to just get started on some career... ANY career in the health care field. I had been severely depressed after graduating from college in 2017. I was either going to go work for Teach for America or start Public Health school. But, I turned down both due to the circumstances at the time.

In 2018, I had a very bad experience working as a medical scribe for 7 months in an urgent care clinic. It was because of this experience, I convinced myself that medicine was not the career I wanted. I later realized that urgent care was not representative of the whole of medicine, and was a very limited scope of the field.
At the same time, I accidentally discovered dentistry while as a patient myself for a painful tooth. I was really drawn to the procedural aspect that provides a dentist with instant gratification upon helping a patient as well as the very intimate patient-provider relationship. This was very different from the urgent care clinic I worked in where patients were just treated as a number and physicians/ PAs were AWFUL to each other and to staff because of their own burnout/unhappiness.

In May of 2019, I ultimately came out of my post-baccalaureate with a 3.7 overall GPA and a little over a 3.5 science GPA. At that point, I hadn't taken biochem yet and I was worried I needed biochem for the MCAT. So I convinced myself that dentistry was the way to go and also spent some time shadowing my cousin who is a dentist. All of the dentists, dental assistants, and dental students I have ever worked with were super cheerful and seemed to enjoy what they do. Not a single dentist seemed to regret their profession. That summer of 2019, I took the DAT and scored in the 99th percentile and applied to dental school in September.

Now, I'm worried I chose dentistry for all the wrong reasons. I honestly do find systemic health a lot more interesting/ intellectually challenging than oral health. I took an Introductory course on Dental Medicine recently, and reaffirmed this fact. Also, I don't know how I will be with my hands/ don't know anything about my own manual dexterity (which is something students find out first-hand during their years in dental school).
Should I hold off on going to dental school and apply to medical school next summer without giving dentistry a chance, even though I will be 27 when I matriculate? I am 25 now.
Was I wrong to be turned off by my urgent care experience? Was I wrong to let my self-doubt prevent me from even taking the MCAT and applying to medical school?


Please, any advice would be greatly appreciated. I need to make this decision before it is too late and I am in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
Thank you so much for your time and help.
How many MDs have you shadowed and in what specialties? Was it only the urgent care?

Are you more interested in surgery or medicine?

What do you expect the field of medicine to offer you that is different or not found in dentistry?
 
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