tvndental

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Hi I am shadowing my dentist for the first time next week and was wondering if anyone could give me advice on what exactly to do.

Do I just follow the dentist the whole day?
What are some of the do's and don'ts when shadowing?
How close do you stand when the dentist is doing procedures? Far away or right next to the patient up where you can see what exactly is going on in the mouth?
How do you make it less awkward for patients? I am pretty sure some patients will feel uncomfortable for a random person is just staring at them the whole time.

If anyone can answer that would be nice. Any other advices would also be nice too. Thanks.
 

Avery07

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Hi I am shadowing my dentist for the first time next week and was wondering if anyone could give me advice on what exactly to do.

Do I just follow the dentist the whole day?
What are some of the do's and don'ts when shadowing?
How close do you stand when the dentist is doing procedures? Far away or right next to the patient up where you can see what exactly is going on in the mouth?
How do you make it less awkward for patients? I am pretty sure some patients will feel uncomfortable for a random person is just staring at them the whole time.

If anyone can answer that would be nice. Any other advices would also be nice too. Thanks.

Come dressed as business casual. The dentist may ask you to wear scrubs when you get there but most likely not.

Do ask questions. Things will get mundane after a while but interact with the doctor, his assistants, and even the patients. Try to be natural with everything and don't put off bad vibes by appearing uncomfortable. Patients have always been relaxed around me and generally interested in my pursuit of dentistry.

I'm assuming you will see this dentist many more times in your future so I wouldn't jump into business talk with him yet. Maybe after you guys really know each other you can go there but it's best to leave money out of it for now.

Follow up with a thank you card. I would always send a thank you card with a small picture to the offices I shadow. Sometimes I would randomly drop by some brownies or cookies too. It's good to stay in touch with the dentist and form a solid relationship.

Best of luck to you. :thumbup:
 

SugarNaCl

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Obviously working in the mouth, you will have to be close to see what is going on. The dentist expects this if he agreed to let you assist. Likely he will first ask the patient if it is ok if you observe. I have never had anyone say "no" but an anxious patient may not want that. If the patient says yes, go to it. Often times, they will let you be their assistant for some procedures at least while prepping surfaces when all they need is the suction.

You will be fine. Don't overthink it. Tell him where you stand in your knowledge and act interested... ask questions occasionally etc.

Good luck and have fun. You will get used to it real fast.
 

GoldTigerPirate

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Above is some good advice. I would add: don't touch anything unless instructed to, ask the Doc where he/she would have you stand to observe procedures, keep conversation cheerful, and most importantly don't become uncomfortable in silence. "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." -George Eliot
 

Dent44

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Wear comfortable shoes... you'll be doing a lot of standing!
 

dentalWorks

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it really depends on the size of the rooms. If its large enough, they'll bring a chair for you to sit next to his/her assistant and just watch.

Since my sister is a dentist, I pretty much showed up whenever I wanted, and left whenever I wanted. However her only rule was to wear scrubs.

It got to a point where I only showed up to appointments of procedures I have never seen before. After like 100 fillings, I decided I don't wanna see any more and I had her assistants call me whenever a patient had scheduled something new (like root canal)

If you develope a good relationship with the dentist, you can also do that. Has him/her drop you an email everytime a new "cool" prodcure is scheduled for that date / time.... But remember, you can ONLY DO THIS if you have a very close/friendly relationship, or else its going to come off as rude.
 

12345a

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it's not hard, it's boring.

Watch, stare, make some general conversation with the dentist when he's not doing something that requires his attention (like giving a shot to a terrified pt). Don't talk too much but talk to the staff, hygienists, assistant, etc.

Ask how long the practice has been opened, where the dentist went to school, how he liked the program, etc.

Again, it's not really fun...if it is for you, all the better...but every dentist I've shadowed has been 1000 X more dull than shadowing a surgeon (when I was premed).
 

dentalWorks

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...but every dentist I've shadowed has been 1000 X more dull than shadowing a surgeon (when I was premed).
Comments like these get me to bring the popcorn machine out
:corny:
 

OU11BB

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Try to pay attention to what is going on around you. I shadowed for about 3 weeks and was offered a job b/c i showed interest other than shadowing for the practice. I took note of where alot of instruments, burs, cements, etc. were and if i overheard something i was all over it like a glue truck at the kentucky derby. imo go there to shadow but also go there to work? For instance if they are slammed that day and there are instruments that need to be cleaned and autoclave go help them out. they will be appreciative and let you do more! that will be good b/c it does get very boring just standing there.
 

12345a

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Comments like these get me to bring the popcorn machine out
:corny:
lol, it's true..and it's my opinion. People who have problems with things like that are usually the pre-dent who tells someone they shouldn't go into dentistry because their motivations aren't "correct."

Watching an aortic dissection or bypass surgery was 1000 times more interesting than watching an extraction, filling, or root canal (which you can't really even see). But dentistry wins out because the dentist got to go home at 4 o'clock and the CT surgeon had to spend the rest of the night on call. :D
 

Vicviper

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Haha, idunno, my first day shadowing I saw a few root canals and I thought it was like the most awesome thing ever, hahaha. But yeah, shadowing at an Oral Surgeon's might be more "interesting" than at a general practice - I mean, full facial reconstruction compared to some crown preps...ehhh. On the same hand, one might find blood sports really interesting, but they wouldn't actually want to participate in them.

So, my point to the OP - it might seem boring if you're in on a slow day or something like that, so don't get discouraged if that happens. Dentistry has a number of great specialties, and shadowing a variety of them in addition to general practice will give you the best overview of the field.

Oh, and definitely ask him/her where to stand, as said before, asking questions is much better than not asking questions - but don't go and ask something like, "Should that really be bleeding that much?" hahahaha.
 

MatthewLeeDDS

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Hi I am shadowing my dentist for the first time next week and was wondering if anyone could give me advice on what exactly to do.

Do I just follow the dentist the whole day?
More or less. Every dentist does things differently so just plan on following the dentist around. They'll tell you if they want something else.
What are some of the do's and don'ts when shadowing?
Like a previous poster said, don't touch stuff if you don't know what it does/is. Stay out of the dentist's way but don't stand way off and act uninterested. If the dentist is standing up, get out of the doorway... this will save you some awkward shuffling if he/she gets up to leave haha
How close do you stand when the dentist is doing procedures? Far away or right next to the patient up where you can see what exactly is going on in the mouth?
See previous. You're there to watch and absorb, not just watch a dentist do procedures and the dentist knows that. You'll "detect" the comfortable zone quickly.
How do you make it less awkward for patients? I am pretty sure some patients will feel uncomfortable for a random person is just staring at them the whole time.
9 times out of 10, the dentist would tell the patient who I was so they aren't staring at the random person who just followed the dentist in. Patients never seemed to care that I was standing there.

If anyone can answer that would be nice. Any other advices would also be nice too. Thanks.

Overall, just relax and absorb everything around you. You aren't there to "learn how to do a filling", you're there to see if you even think you'd like dentistry based on what you see.

By the way, if you get bored quickly, don't think that dentistry may not be your thing or something. I shadowed about 150 hours total and after 35-40, I felt like I was seeing the same stuff over and over. If you can get a gig at a free/discount clinic as a dental assistant, do it! You will enjoy it much more and learn a ton... much more than shadowing in my opinion.

A last pointer... think of some legitimate questions (where did you graduate, how did you get into dentistry, how did you get started, etc.) that you can ask when the opportunity arrises. Don't ask the dentist stuff when he/she is working on someone. Just soft questions... don't get into finances or personal stuff...
 
G

gorrillaunit18

lol, it's true..and it's my opinion. People who have problems with things like that are usually the pre-dent who tells someone they shouldn't go into dentistry because their motivations aren't "correct."

Watching an aortic dissection or bypass surgery was 1000 times more interesting than watching an extraction, filling, or root canal (which you can't really even see). But dentistry wins out because the dentist got to go home at 4 o'clock and the CT surgeon had to spend the rest of the night on call. :D
LOL!!! This is SO true! I used to be pre-med as well and I watched so many neat surgeries and now all I get to watch is root canals.
 

ramseszerg

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Follow up with a thank you card. I would always send a thank you card with a small picture to the offices I shadow. Sometimes I would randomly drop by some brownies or cookies too. It's good to stay in touch with the dentist and form a solid relationship.

Best of luck to you. :thumbup:
How do I send the thank you card? By mail? And what if I'm not done shadowing at that office yet, do I wait until I am? Do I get a blank note paper or one of those hallmark ones?
 

Skateguitar

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I have been shadowing an Endodontist, and let me tell ya, after this experience shadowing him, I am even MORE motivated to become a dentist. The Endodontist is a really cool guy, he is very nice and he let me look down his High Tech Microscope a couple times to look into the root!

  • My advice, go shadow but dont try to memorize procedures, names, etc. Just take i all in and at the end of the day thank him.
  • Dont talk during a procedure, I think it courteous to not distract him as he is working.
  • Dress nicely, or wear scrubs. Dont wear a suit, but dont go in wearing jeans and a shirt. I usually wore a typical business pants with a button long sleeve shirt and wore a scrub on top of it all.
  • During my time shadowing, there are 2 spots where I stand; looking over the dentist's shoulder (I got a better view of mandibular root canals) Or at the patient's feet (I got a better view of maxillary root canals). He will probably tell you where to stand, just dont get in the way or bump into him while he is working lol.
  • My dentist usually had patient after patient, so there was not a whole lot of time in between, but when he had a gap he would go into his office and I would be near where the assistants where working cleaning instruments, I took with me a small book with notes for my DAT like conversion factors, formulas, etc. to study during gaps.
  • wear comfortable shoes, I shadow 5 hours a day, and I stand the whole time.
  • Save questions for when he is done with the patient or he asks you if there are any Q's.
  • Usually, he wont leave you alone with the patients but if he does, you will find it HARD to be quiet. Seriously, you will meet so many interesting people, I have met quite a few, like an ER doctor and another General Dentist. And I am usually a quiet guy.
  • The first day he will probably introduce you to the other staff, but he will get right to work immediately.
  • Try to have some questions ready for whatever in case he asks you if there are any Q's. its ok to not have a Q here and there but it will seem weird if you have no questions whatsoever!
 

dynococus

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In addition to everything above, one of the most useful things you could do for yourself is make a record of the hours you spent there and what you observed. And do it right when you get back from shadowing so it's still fresh. It definitely makes filling out AADSAS easier.
 

476515678234896

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In addition to everything above, one of the most useful things you could do for yourself is make a record of the hours you spent there and what you observed. And do it right when you get back from shadowing so it's still fresh. It definitely makes filling out AADSAS easier.
yep. excel is great for something like this.
 

archonsbk

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If you develope a good relationship with the dentist, you can also do that. Has him/her drop you an email everytime a new "cool" prodcure is scheduled for that date / time.... But remember, you can ONLY DO THIS if you have a very close/friendly relationship, or else its going to come off as rude.[/QUOTE]

I guess I am kinda lucky since the lady (cashier) told me to shadow when some new things like root canal are happening..
 
Apr 24, 2010
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So I'm currently shadowing a dentist as well. I'll can only give you tips from my experience, but I'm sure it depends on the dental clinic, dentist, as well as the dental assistants you are with.
  • I got really lucky with being able to shadow the current dentist. He is extremely helpful and is proactive in giving me a well-rounded experience. I shadow at a clinic with all sorts of dentist and related people (i.e. orthodontist, periodontists, endodontists, dental hygienists. oral surgeons, etc.). So technically I shadow several dentists because my dentist is awesome.
  • Anyway, back to the topic (sorry), when I shadow, I get inside on the side of the dental assistant and get up close (but not in the way of course) to view the action when I can. Most of the dental assistants are nice too so initially they encouraged me to come closer to get a better look etc.
  • I read in past posts that some members encouraged carrying around a pen and notebook, but I don't. When I'm shadowing I have gloves on and want to help and assist as much as possible so having a pen and notebook would be a distraction and inconvenience. I usually just take a mental note of the fact, advice, or info until I get back home and write it down or research it.
  • I'm not sure with other dentists, but my dentist usually explains what is going on either before, during, or after. If I'm unsure or have a question, I'll usually ask after.
  • Regarding patients, from what I've been told, if the patient speaks to the dentist in a whisper or lower volume, he/she probably wants some privacy so leave them to be. I say just use some common sense and be respectful.
    Some other tips:
    - wear comfortable shoes, appropriate clothing
    - I usually have my hair tied back or away
    - Be helpful and nice to everyone including the dental assistants. They can help you out and teach you things.
    - Just try to take in as much as you can.

    Hope that helps! :) and good luck!