Mar 4, 2015
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Pre-Medical
I'm a junior in undergrad and to this day, I still don't know where my heart lies. Whenever my advisor asks me if I am pre-med? I say that I am either Pre-med or Pre-dental. I haven't decided. And I'm still having difficulty deciding. I've even considered to practice for the MCAT AND the DAT (which I'm not going to do).

I am definitely interested in all aspects of medicine and that includes dentistry. My GPA and EC's would make me competitive for both. I've shadowed several dentists and MDs and I loved both experiences.

At this point, it seems that the deciding factor in my decision of whether to do MD/DO or DDS/DMD is going to be income and lifestyle and job availability. A pro/con list of which is best would be amazing insight.

Can you please give me some insight on how to proceed? I need to make my final decision and your insight will help in deciding which exam to take and which schools to apply to. I cannot see myself taking both exams and then applying to both dental and medical schools and just having an epiphany of what I want to do.

Obviously I expect you to be a bit biased towards dentistry, but please do list your opinion anyways!
 
Last edited:

Frychicken

2+ Year Member
Oct 29, 2014
166
319
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Dentist
This topic comes up a lot and my view on it has changed over the years since I've become a dental student.

Here are my thoughts:
1. Dentistry and medicine should not be thought of as alternatives such as "Should I eat a steak or fish tonight?" They have two entirely different job functions, skillset, and knowledge.
2. Income and lifestyle as the main motivator will suck once you realize your first year in DS how much you hate waxing and learning about teeth. Then once you hit the clinic floor, you come to see that human oral cavity is just downright disgusting.
3. Dentistry is a very technical branch of medicine. I like doing things with my hand and fixing people up. We're perfect for each other.

Best of luck in your decision making and career.
 
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Nov 15, 2013
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The problem with asking on a board full of pre-dental students is they dont know anything about medicine (and vice versa for Premeds). I often hear the life style thing being thrown around, with dental leading to a better lifestyle; honestly medicine can offer the same. I'm an anesthesiologist and so is my dad; he chooses to work 3 days a week and makes in the $300k range. Newer guys like myself can low ball ourselves and go for the "mommy track" and make much lower but enjoy weekends and 2-3pm days. Other branches of medicine such as derm or ophtho are a given for six figures, early days, and weekends.

The point of the above paragraph? You probably can't trust any goofball on these boards including myself; you have to either shadow more or stall until you can make a decision yourself.
 
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Incis0r

I LOVE Dental School
5+ Year Member
Aug 10, 2014
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Alterac Valley
I'm a junior in undergrad and to this day, I still don't know where my heart lies. Whenever my advisor asks me if I am pre-med? I say that I am either Pre-med or Pre-dental. I haven't decided. And I'm still having difficulty deciding. I've even considered to practice for the MCAT AND the DAT (which I'm not going to do).

I am definitely interested in all aspects of medicine and that includes dentistry. My GPA and EC's would make me competitive for both. I've shadowed several dentists and MDs and I loved both experiences.

At this point, it seems that the deciding factor in my decision of whether to do MD/DO or DDS/DMD is going to be income and lifestyle and job availability. A pro/con list of which is best would be amazing insight.

Can you please give me some insight on how to proceed? I need to make my final decision and your insight will help in deciding which exam to take and which schools to apply to. I cannot see myself taking both exams and then applying to both dental and medical schools and just having an epiphany of what I want to do.

Obviously I expect you to be a bit biased towards dentistry, but please do list your opinion anyways!
Man I remember this- I struggled with this very problem for years! I was die-hard pre-med in high school... I had 500 volunteering hours at a local hospital before graduation from high school!

And initially, I was skeptical about dentistry- "Oh I don't want to look at 32 teeth all day" etc. etc. This was all before I shadowed a single dentist though.

Shadowing changed everything.

What really convinced me was shadowing different specialties/settings. So for MD/DO, I shadowed Peds, Cardio, PCP, ENT, and anesthesiology. For dentist, I just shadowed general, but I did it in different settings: private practice, community health center, group practice, etc.

And I realized that dentistry would give me everything I wanted in a career with much less stress than MD.
1. Dental School is 4 years (+ 1 year optional AEGD, more if you want to do an optional residency). Med School is 4 years (+ minimum 2 years (or 3?) residency), fellowship, etc. etc.

2. If you go to dental school, you know exactly what you'l become- a general dentist. You can practice right out of the gate. If you go to med school, you won't know what you're going to become till you take the specializing exam....USMLE or Step...I forget which one. Bottom line is- your future residency/career depends a lot on a one-time exam.

3. Dental care is important! I've done a lot of reading about the connections between Oral Health and Overall health- did you know that gum disease and diabetes have a two-way link? Or plaque and endocarditis? In fact, I've seen general dentists discover something abnormal in a patient (high BP) for example, refer them to their physician, and have the patient catch the condition in time. It's great screening.

4. Autonomy- As much as MD/DOs might like to ignore this, the fact is that medicine is becoming more "cookie-cutter" i.e. insurance companies and laws are influencing medical treatments, there are algorithms that a doctor must follow, etc. Dentistry- the most regulation I've seen is when insurance companies won't pay for a certain type of treatment. But then you can ask the patient to CareCredit Finance it, or pay out of pocket, or propose a different tx plan....

5. Lifestyle!!!! The anesthesiologist above me sure has a great lifestyle. in fact, he's in one of the ROAD specialties: Radiology, (Optometry or Ophthalmology? I always get these confused), Anesthesiology, and Dermatology. The fact is- these are the MOST competitive and hard to get into specialties in medicine. Pretty much every med student wants them, but who gets it is largely dictated by, you guessed it, exam scores. Nothing is certain! Someone might want to go into radiology but only match with family medicine.

6. Dentistry is cool! Think about it. A patient comes to you with severe shooting pain. You do X-rays and determine that a root canal + crown is needed. You can do that procedure and remove the patient's pain by solving it at the root of the problem (pun intended :)). Now if a patient goes to a physician with the same problem in the mouth- what do you think the physician will do? Painkillers? Prescriptions? Yep- that and a referral to a dentist.

7. Stress as a student- All the pre-meds at my school are so burned out. Most of them are taking 1 or 2 gap years b/w undergrad and med school. So many are nervous about if they will get in (these guys have 3.6-3.8 GPAs, mind you). Me? I'm just cruising along, enjoying undergrad, doing well in my courses, and am excited about the day I become a dentist! Now this factor isn't as important as making sure that you'll enjoy the profession, but happiness is #1.

I have lots more reasons but I have work now; feel free to PM me and we can chat some more.
 
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A

akog

Another problem with the comparison is that while "dentistry" can be considered an endpoint job in and of itself, "medicine" is not a job---it leads to internist, anesthesiologist, psychiatrist, etc., which are the actual careers.

So when comparing, don't compare just dentistry vs medicine. Chose the specialties that interest you, and make the comparison "dentist vs pediatrician vs anesthesia" etc. That will clear things up for you, I think. (The zoomed out view of medicine as a career gives our intuition a false impression of what the day to day of being a doctor means.)