redhotchiligochu

D3
2+ Year Member
Jul 11, 2016
658
707
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Dental Student
I must be an emotionless robot and/or a sociopath because idk what "passion" is/means.

***WARNING: RANT BELOW*** will provide TLDR summary at the bottom.

Yes I am the infamous "new" member of SDN. I'd like to say that I'm sometimes helpful but sometimes inviting people to criticize me. Anyway, make my presence however way you want.

Idk if the stress of waiting for dental schools to respond has gotten into me or something but I am seriously doubting myself as a competitive "passionate" candidate for dental school. I'll explain as much as I can without incriminating myself. After I am done explaining, I'm pretty sure the frequent SDN users (not gonna list any names) will roast me. Please, save your trolling for somewhere else but I won't be surprised to see you respond to me in that manner. Most important is to see how/if you guys find "passion" for something, because this is almost like trying to find the meaning of life... something that is unanswerable unless if you're Gautama Buddha.

I am in my late 20's. I've had 2 previous careers, one in education and one in business. I won't elaborate either although if you're a bigger internet crawler than Google, you'll maybe find something. I'd say I was pretty damn good at both. Money is definitely not the reason for pursuing dentistry. because I've had a few years where I've made more than "associate dentist money," however you guys decide to come to a conclusion on my income. I know there's so many other fields that have potential for $$$ and "helping" people but I'll explain why I've decided not to pursue them and how I connect the practical aspects to dentistry.

IT/Computer stuff: If there's a DAT version of computer literacy I'd get an equivalent of 12AA. I can't do computers other than cut-paste, delete cookies, and command prompt "run," I obviously don't see myself doing anything computer-related. Very abstract and yes it "helps people" but it's not very hands-on to me. I like to think and plan a lot and use logic theory and I think it's applicable to dentistry but like I said for the 3rd time, too abstract.

Banking/investing: I almost got my Series 7 license. Needless to say, Wall Street is where you make the big bucks. However, it is a high burnout, high turnover industry with so many regulations and crooks, while cheating off the average Joe through the housing bubble and NASDAQ tech bubble crash back in the 00's and 90s respectively. Everytime you go on Scottrade, Charles Schwab, etc and make that $7 stock exchange, who keeps that $7? And with billions of stocks being exchanged daily and with the allure of leveraged funds, you see why the big banks keep getting bigger. What I do like about investment banking is that it's very results-oriented - you don't make 20% or more annually making some scary calls, puts, and shorts, you're fired. Doesn't get any simpler than that. I like the "results oriented" aspect of finance, but I feel like I am not providing a benefit to society by essentially gambling with other people's money.

Marketing management: Lots of politics. I was in mid-level management and although I enjoyed the "multitasking" element, I did not like catty, gossipy, popularity-contest nature of the work environment. It almost reminded me of undergrad. The psychological torture of immature people trying to screw each other over reminded me of high school and undergrad, and I was unable to perform academically at my finest. I even had my notebook, textbooks, and laptops stolen to sabotage my academic progress. Hence for you critical SDN users out there who has the analytical skills of a lawyer who pick out missing information who bash my BCP GPA, that is why my GPA suffered in certain semesters, irregardless of class difficulty! Weird, huh? And because I have such pride in myself that NOWHERE in my application did I mention that was the reason for some of my bad grades. Anyway back to topic, I've learned a lot about what it takes to manage multiple employees and the amount of multitasking that is involved, but dentistry will be a much smaller setting and I will not have to deal with as much politics. Not saying that I CAN'T deal with politics, I'd much rather avoid it when possible.

Education: money sucks. I actually found a way to make great money doing it and only the adcoms will know how, but lemme tell you this. If you think Obamacare is broken, public education is so broken that God can't even fix it. I loved education for everything EXCEPT pay and the hassle of dealing with public administration. I loved helping kids and preparing for their future adulthood but I cannot be their babysitter, tolerate parents b*tching about how their kid is "ooooo my Sally is so smart, how come she didn't get an A?" but they couldn't figure out the interior angle of a triangle by the time they're in 11th grade. Which brings me back to this point. Dentistry is mostly private practice, it's not screwed like medicine where there's increased corporate interest. If dentists made the same as a public school teacher, I'll be frank, I would never pursue it. Dentists alleviate tooth pain and oral issues and can "educate" patients to pursue a healthier lifestyle, but I won't have to give them a grade on how well they brush their teeth. Dentistry IS a stressful profession but they are much more highly regarded than a school teacher. Frankly.

So now, my question is, I feel like I am a fit for dentistry because of PRACTICAL qualities such as being a multitasker, manager, and "front line" healthcare profider, but I don't have an emotional attraction to dentistry and I highly suspect that will be an extreme negative to adcoms. Please tell me what y'all think. I understand you're practically giving me the keys to discover "why dentistry" and maybe you guys don't want to help me TOO much but by all means let me know. I feel like I "know" the ins and outs of dentistry but I seriously cannot conjure up a "reason" or "passion" for dentistry, that's all.

***TLDR***
Know practical side of dentistry, don't have passion, lust, or sexual attraction for dentistry. What, I looooovvvveeeee teeth? Seriously, lol

Edit: I want to add that even though I sent my AADSAS like in early June, I recently got damning feedback on my personal statement from an active member (though not dentist) from ADA even though I've got it checked by 3 different people including a prehealth advisor and they thought it was unique. However, she thinks differently. Too generic, too "practical" no emotion to "why dentistry." I'm a little confused/shocked as to whether people actually had personal stories about tooth trauma or their family member getting screwed by a dentist or other emotionally heart string pulling essays.
 
Last edited:
Jul 18, 2016
31
10
Status
Pre-Dental
I don't think that sense of 'passion' for anything in the world can come without a level of commitment. I myself decided relatively late to pursue this field and I think its commitment that is more important at this stage more than passion. I mean how the hell are you supposed to be passionate unless your parents are doing the same thing or whatever. I think it is a demonstration of commitment that they are looking for. I think of it like this, if you think you know what you are talking about and they agree with your views on the profession they might give you an opportunity to begin the journey. I also think they know that most people who are supposedly passionate probably have no clue what it really feels like either. So rather that worrying about the passion I think the key is to show that you are cable of not giving up just because of a small bump on the road. If you manage to convey that commitment, to hell with passion, it will come with time if this is meant to be.
 
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redhotchiligochu

redhotchiligochu

D3
2+ Year Member
Jul 11, 2016
658
707
USA
Status
Dental Student
I don't think that sense of 'passion' for anything in the world can come without a level of commitment. I myself decided relatively late to pursue this field and I think its commitment that is more important at this stage more than passion. I mean how the hell are you supposed to be passionate unless your parents are doing the same thing or whatever. I think it is a demonstration of commitment that they are looking for. I think of it like this, if you think you know what you are talking about and they agree with your views on the profession they might give you an opportunity to begin the journey. I also think they know that most people who are supposedly passionate probably have no clue what it really feels like either. So rather that worrying about the passion I think the key is to show that you are cable of not giving up just because of a small bump on the road. If you manage to convey that commitment, to hell with passion, it will come with time if this is meant to be.
Thank you for your encouragement! I feel like I am familiar and comfortable with being in a dental office, I've shadowed 10 different dentists and have a blood relative (not mentioning which as to not reveal my identity to adcoms LOL) who happens to be a dentist and in family gatherings she would discuss some bits and pieces of her work life in the dental office, having to deal with employees, clogged toilets, and impatient patients lol. I'm just confused how people claim an emotional level of "passion" for dentistry and how my "rationality" for dentistry as a "career choice" is not a "good answer."
 
Jul 18, 2016
31
10
Status
Pre-Dental
I think such admissions processes whether for professional school or a research degree require a level of acting where you need to give them what they want in order to get the opportunity to be who you are later on. As much as i would love to wake up again at the age of 8 again and have the epiphany that I like dentistry, its not always possible. Keep it real :) but don't forget to act a little, after all this is the service industry ;)
 

AlyssaRof2012

7+ Year Member
Mar 5, 2012
60
21
Status
Pre-Dental
I don't think you need a passion for dentistry per se... but I think they want to see what drew you to this field out of all the other options. It's gotta be more than practicality. They've gotta know that there's a high chance you really want this and you'll do well (because you have this certain strong motivator/life experience/thing drawing you to this/etc.) if they let you in.
That's how I understand it at least..


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redhotchiligochu

redhotchiligochu

D3
2+ Year Member
Jul 11, 2016
658
707
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Dental Student
I don't think you need a passion for dentistry per se... but I think they want to see what drew you to this field out of all the other options. It's gotta be more than practicality. They've gotta know that there's a high chance you really want this and you'll do well (because you have this certain strong motivator/life experience/thing drawing you to this/etc.) if they let you in.
That's how I understand it at least..


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I'm screwed then :bigtears: my "passion" is to sit on my butt and DGAF about anything :rofl:

I can rationally go through other options and pick "why dentistry" over other fields, but I guess what's really screwing me over is not having a Pavlovian trigger toward dentistry, like an example would be an applicant (keeping it anonymous) who had such crooked teeth and had a lisp that he was socially shamed but was top-ranked in his debate class and overcame a speech impediment and wants to be an orthodontist and he got into Columbia dental school. Unfortunately, I don't have that kind of personal dental experience so finding this nonexistent life experience/motivator other than practicality is really killing me.

Edit: reread your post!
 
Last edited:

Illumident

2+ Year Member
Jan 26, 2016
514
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Dental Student
Some questions that may help you with the introspection:

The passion: Ask yourself honestly. Do you find any emotional reward from working one-on-one with people and using your hands to directly help improve their health?

The practicality: At the end of the cycle, you will be going through 4 years of dental school, where you'll be learning more than the average person will want to know about teeth. After that, you will have to go to work every day staring into people's mouths. Will you feel absolutely miserable doing that, or will you be able to tolerate it?
 
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redhotchiligochu

redhotchiligochu

D3
2+ Year Member
Jul 11, 2016
658
707
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Some questions that may help you with the introspection:

The passion: Ask yourself honestly. Do you find any emotional reward from working one-on-one with people and using your hands to directly help improve their health?

The practicality: At the end of the cycle, you will be going through 4 years of dental school, where you'll be learning more than the average person will want to know about teeth. After that, you will have to go to work every day staring into people's mouths. Will you feel absolutely miserable doing that, or will you be able to tolerate it?
So helpful, thank you!

Yes! I used to work one-on-one tutoring before I became a public school teacher... REALLY enjoyed interacting with the student and guiding them along to a better academic standing, except for the helicopter parent types. I probably won't pursue pediatric dentistry or ortho, but adults are fine LOL.

While my 200 hours of shadowing pales in comparison to the 30+ years of dentistry that I will be faced doing, I enjoyed being with the assistants, lab techs, associates, and hygenists. Watching scaling or extraction didn't bother or disgust me, and was kinda boring TBH but not sleep inducing..... That's what I mean by "practical" and "compatible"

I could answer it the way Illumident phrased it, I was just really confused by the adcoms who expect some childhood dentistry story.... the above 2 paragraphs are what I mean by "practical" and "passion" - something I COULD do but in a rational as opposed to emotional manner.
 

AlyssaRof2012

7+ Year Member
Mar 5, 2012
60
21
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Pre-Dental
I'm screwed then :bigtears: my "passion" is to sit on my butt and DGAF about anything :rofl:

Unfortunately, my "motivator" is the responsibilities that are unique to dentistry, something that I can transfer from my previous careers, and like you're implying I don't think its good enough, fair or unfair, I think it's really killing my dental school chances despite my impressive resume.

Not having a Pavlovian trigger toward dentistry really sucks.
My answer was based off of a conversation I had recently with someone involved in admissions at a dental school. I'm not implying your practicality reason isn't good enough. You're not alone in that and I'm not one to knock it.
If your answer isn't coming across how you'd like it to, try to better structure the wording of your answer in a way that says what you want to say in a way they want to hear it. Finesse it a little bit. (Don't lie, though.)


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AlyssaRof2012

7+ Year Member
Mar 5, 2012
60
21
Status
Pre-Dental
I'm screwed then :bigtears: my "passion" is to sit on my butt and DGAF about anything :rofl:

I can rationally go through other options and pick "why dentistry" over other fields, but I guess what's really screwing me over is not having a Pavlovian trigger toward dentistry, like an example would be an applicant (keeping it anonymous) who had such crooked teeth and had a lisp that he was socially shamed but was top-ranked in his debate class and overcame a speech impediment and wants to be an orthodontist and he got into Columbia dental school. Unfortunately, I don't have that kind of personal dental experience so finding this nonexistent life experience/motivator other than practicality is really killing me.

Edit: reread your post!
I don't have that kind of personal experience either. My passion is more geared towards the physical act of repairing teeth (aka hand skills but stated with deeper explanation than this (and I do have experience, not just assuming I'd like it/be good at it)). Nothing big and super emotional here.

Edited typo

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redhotchiligochu

redhotchiligochu

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I don't have that kind of personal experience either. My passion is more geared towards the physical act of repairing teeth (aka hand skills but stated with deeper explanation than this (and I do have experience, not just assuming I'd like it/be good at it)). Nothing big and super emotional here.

Edited typo

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Ok, that makes much more sense. Like I said, I was baffled by the assumption that I needed to have some sort of emotional "trigger" related to dentistry, but it seems like enjoying the act of fixing teeth and incorporating hand-eye coordination. I have a personal reason akin to that and now that you mention it, I DID talk about it on my PS but I think I should have elaborated on that much much more.
 
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AlyssaRof2012

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Ok, that makes much more sense. Like I said, I was baffled by the assumption that I needed to have some sort of emotional "trigger" related to dentistry, but it seems like enjoying the act of fixing teeth and incorporating hand-eye coordination. I have a personal reason akin to that and now that you mention it, I DID talk about it on my PS but I think I should have elaborated on that much much more.
Yeah, I get that. I struggled with that myself at first. Then I realized, it isn't possible that everyone who's in dental school/a dentist got in with different versions of that same narrative.
Hopefully not elaborating as much as you should've doesn't hurt your chances too much and when you interview you can go into it at that point if they ask about why you want to pursue dentistry.


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Feb 1, 2016
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I DID talk about it on my PS but I think I should have elaborated on that much much more.
If it's not to late I would…

I spent the bottom half of my PS explaining my "passion" for dentistry, while tying it into the overall theme covered in the first half of my PS. And honestly, if you struggle figuring out what your passion for the profession is you may want to do some reflecting. If at an interview and asked "why do you want to be a dentist?" They will most likely be able to differentiate applicants with/without passion by their responses.
 

JLT223

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Jun 3, 2015
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If you think that most people dream about teeth and fantasize over them you're mistaken. That's not the passion they are looking for. The passion I have is one of mental stimulation and the excitement of an ever-changing profession (new technology for example). Each case is different, every patient has their own quirks/is unique, etc etc. I care about the scientific and sociological principles behind the treatment. I don't find teeth totally interesting per-say, but I find that the patient and their health problems are. At the end of the day you're altering somebody's life in one form or another. If you did a good job, you'll be remembered. That's the thing that keeps me going everyday. Hope that helps.
 
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Even though I am well known in my clinic for telling the residents that we "fix teeth", that is really not all that we do. With that said, I think most DS applicants are passionate about the "idea" of being a dentist, but do not really know that much about it because they don't actually do it. I imagine I would like to be an F1 race car driver, because it appears exciting, cool, fun....take your pick....but I really don't know all that it entails. Whenever I read posts on SDN or read some applicant's personal statement, it never speaks to how much fun the integration of oral histology, oral pathology, and oral medicine can be. Just saying....dentistry is a big field and I never hear anyone shadow an oral pathologist.
 
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redhotchiligochu

redhotchiligochu

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Thanks for all your input! I mistakenly thought adcoms wanted students to almost almost have a fetish for teeth (imagine MD/DO students being asked about "why podiatry" or "why urology" :rolleyes:) but I'm glad to know that being "normal" is okay!

I'm kicking myself for not strongly including the idea of dentistry-specific reasons. I didn't want to write my PS the way I write scathing posts on SDN LOL and I think I made myself a "generic" candidate by holding back on a lot of my "passion" and service-oriented strengths from my education and business experience. Again thanks!