Having some qualms about starting Dental School in the Fall

Apr 29, 2020
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Hi everyone!

I hope you and your families are all safe and healthy. If 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 deans 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. After graduating 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 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. 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? I honestly do find systemic health a lot more interesting/ intellectually challenging than oral health. 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?

I was going to take the MCAT this summer just to see how I would do, but then coronavirus got in the way and my family (which is already of low SES) really suffered from the consequences of covid.

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.
 
Last edited:

Rachapkis

2+ Year Member
Apr 5, 2018
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You are the only person who can know what you will find fulfilling. Take the time to measure twice and cut once, and make the best decision you can--with imperfect information--about the career path you choose to travel. As you get older, by necessity, you face forks in the road where you will only be able to travel one path, and it is incumbent on you to do your level best to make sure it is the right one. That said, don't let FOMO (fear of missing out) lead to analysis paralysis. At some point, everyone needs to choose a path. It sounds like you've traveled a fair way down the path toward becoming a dentist and have been accepted to some excellent schools. If you are having jitters simply because you are making a momentous decision, I would continue down that path. If, however, you know in your heart that dentistry is not for you, it is not too late to change. Good luck!
 
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Apr 29, 2020
7
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  1. Dental Student
You are the only person who can know what you will find fulfilling. Take the time to measure twice and cut once, and make the best decision you can--with imperfect information--about the career path you choose to travel. As you get older, by necessity, you face forks in the road where you will only be able to travel one path, and it is incumbent on you to do your level best to make sure it is the right one. That said, don't let FOMO (fear of missing out) lead to analysis paralysis. At some point, everyone needs to choose a path. It sounds like you've traveled a fair way down the path toward becoming a dentist and have been accepted to some excellent schools. If you are having jitters simply because you are making a momentous decision, I would continue down that path. If, however, you know in your heart that dentistry is not for you, it is not too late to change. Good luck!

Thank you so much for your honest advice :)
 
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MedDoc305

2+ Year Member
Dec 29, 2018
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Hi everyone!

I hope you and your families are all safe and healthy. 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 deans 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. After graduating 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 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 3.4 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. 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? I honestly do find systemic health a lot more interesting/ intellectually challenging than oral health. 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?

I was going to take the MCAT this summer just to see how I would do, but then coronavirus got in the way and my family (which is already of low SES) really suffered from the consequences of covid.

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.
I agree with everything Rachapkis says. Only you will be able to make that determination but don't let your age deter you from going after what you truly want. Clearly you have the potential and abilities to take whichever path you want, just pick the one that will make you the happiest. I scribed for 3 years and loved every second, but I also scribed at a level 1 trauma center, and the ED team worked well together. Dentists, in general, are lucky in that they are part of small practices and carefully pick out their coworkers/team members. When working for a hospital, as a doctor, you really do not get much say into who you work with. You might be happier working as a surgeon/anesthesia in the OR or family medicine in your own clinic. At the end of the day, except for in select specialties, you'll be able to tailor in what environment you want to work in.
 
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Apr 29, 2020
7
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  1. Dental Student
I agree with everything Rachapkis says. Only you will be able to make that determination but don't let your age deter you from going after what you truly want. Clearly you have the potential and abilities to take whichever path you want, just pick the one that will make you the happiest. I scribed for 3 years and loved every second, but I also scribed at a level 1 trauma center, and the ED team worked well together. Dentists, in general, are lucky in that they are part of small practices and carefully pick out their coworkers/team members. When working for a hospital, as a doctor, you really do not get much say into who you work with. You might be happier working as a surgeon/anesthesia in the OR or family medicine in your own clinic. At the end of the day, except for in select specialties, you'll be able to tailor in what environment you want to work in.

Thank you @MedStud305. I sincerely appreciate your input. Age is something I'm worried about, but you're right. I shouldn't let it deter me. Thank you again for your advice.
 
Last edited:

lumya

Indoor Cat
2+ Year Member
Aug 7, 2018
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From reading your post, it seems like you still like dentistry and you're not having second thoughts because you think the field isn't what you want, but rather you're worried that you're missing out. There was actually a post that popped up a couple days ago about a dental student thinking about quitting for medical school. You might find it insightful what people had to say there (spoiler, she ultimately stuck with dentistry).

It's 100% up to you. You got into a great dental program and you have financial aid which is amazing. You should be able to translate this to a medical school application. You'll just have to decide if it's worth it: waiting more time to apply, spending more money on the MCAT and apps. Are you going to be okay if you don't get into an equally prestigious medical school? What if you don't get in the first round and you have to apply again? What if after working more in a clinic, you realize dentistry was what you wanted? This isn't to say that doing the hard thing isn't worth it, but dentists have a pretty good work-life balance and you're on track to a great career if it is what you want.
 
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