Noemimi

10+ Year Member
Jun 26, 2007
60
0
Bay Area, CA
usfca.facebook.com
Status
Pre-Dental
Hello everyone.... I read other posts about people switching from medical to dental, but I am switching from pre-opt to dental...

First, many of you ask people why...
Well, I am very interested in the health field. However, I know that I would not like the medical field (i have researched it). I was deciding between optometry and dentistry a few years back...and I fell into optometry (I applied to dental and optometry offices and optometry called me first). I enjoyed working at the office, but I knew that was much different than actually being a doctor. After shadowing, I became a bit bored. It was the same thing over and over again--which is fine--if you don't find it boring. I am a very hands on person, I like fixing things with my hands--but I kept with it.

From time to time, I would get nervous breakdowns about my choice to go into opto. I felt like I was doing it to do it, not because I really wanted to. Yet i went into it full force and was very dedicated to it...now I was about to apply to opto school, and I couldn't. I cannot do something day in and day out that bored me after 30min-1hr. I had to be honest with myself and I know that it is NOT for me.

I have shadowed a dentist and an orthodontist. I do like the profession. I love how hands on, fast-paced the environment is. It may be the same, but each mouth is different and you have to work/adjust accordingly. I did not get bored by shadowing (which is better than when I was in opto) and the time flew by....

I feel that this is the right direction for me (seriously, the day I decided after shadowing a few dents to give up on opto--I was finally happier and the knot in my stomach went away), even though I did not spend over 2 years of my life in it like opto.

So... my questions for everyone are....

-are my chances lowered because I just recently switched? I plan to apply next cycle.. in June (take the DATs this Dec)

-What can I do to prove to them I am sure of this choice?

-how many hours of shadowing is recommended?

-should I work at a dental office, or is that a waste of time? (i got an advice from someone telling me working at a dental office is not that good b/c im not really shadowing them--research would be better)

-how many schools should I apply to? (there are more dental schools than opto schools)

-what are the main schools that people apply to?

-any other advice or comments would be greatly appreciated.. I have a year to prove to the schools that I am sure of my choice

Thanks ahead of time to everyone that responds...


*note, I am already out of college w/ a BS in Bio and a minor in chem (i live in CA--and would like to stay here :))
 

sugarsting

10+ Year Member
Aug 23, 2008
200
0
Status
Pre-Dental
I think it is great that you are following your gut and changing your mind. It is difficult to change your mind about things like this, and I admire that you've done so. I can sort of relate to what you experienced because I didn't choose dentistry until the middle of undergrad after considering MANY other options. I don't how much I can help with your particular situation but I will try to answer your questions.

So... my questions for everyone are....

-are my chances lowered because I just recently switched? I plan to apply next cycle.. in June (take the DATs this Dec)

I think the more recent your decision to be a dentist is, the weaker your application is. However, you did consider it a few years ago, and if you are honest about your story the way you were in your post here, you can still be a strong candidate.

-What can I do to prove to them I am sure of this choice?

Shadow, shadow, shadow. If there are any pre-dental enrichment programs you can do, do them.

-how many hours of shadowing is recommended?

I have no idea. I don't have many, but this is mainly because I'm finishing up undergrad and haven't had time. I plan to do more shadowing over the next year and mention this in my interviews and/or supplementary apps if they ask me.

-should I work at a dental office, or is that a waste of time? (i got an advice from someone telling me working at a dental office is not that good b/c im not really shadowing them--research would be better)

That sounds like good advice.

-how many schools should I apply to? (there are more dental schools than opto schools)

I think the average is between 5 and 10.

-what are the main schools that people apply to?

I have no idea. I'll say "not Harvard"...they only have 35 seats. Also "not out of state schools that don't like out of staters", for example UNC, I think.

-any other advice or comments would be greatly appreciated.. I have a year to prove to the schools that I am sure of my choice

Shadow, get your hands on as much dental experience as possible. Also remember if you kill the DAT there's not much that can ruin your chances, IMO.

Thanks ahead of time to everyone that responds...
You're welcome :p
 

lphiewok

ACFAS Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Aug 19, 2007
539
7
Fort Polk, LA
Status
Dentist
-are my chances lowered because I just recently switched? I plan to apply next cycle.. in June (take the DATs this Dec)

Not necessarily, in a way if you can explain your decision and passion for dentistry, i think you would be in a better shape than lot of other pre-dents who have not had any other kind of experience. dental school adcoms like to see that you know what you're getting yourself into and the reason you're choosing dentistry is because you want to do it, not as some kind of back-up plan or something.

Have a good personal statement ready which could explain all the things you have mentioned above and also be ready to explain yourself during interview. it would be an interesting topic for sure.

-What can I do to prove to them I am sure of this choice?

you just need to be involved with the field. I would recommend you to do possibly everything you can do with it. shadow, work, get license, etc. whatever you can. also expand your scope of dentistry. find different specialists who you can shadow or work for.

-how many hours of shadowing is recommended?

there is no recommendation for shadowing but IMO anything over 50 hrs would be enough to meet most school's shadowing requirements (not all schools have requirements but some do, and some do have required hours). anything more than 50 in shadowing would be a waste of time. but working is different story. I have been working as a dental assistant since i was in college and i think i have upto about 1000+ hrs.

-should I work at a dental office, or is that a waste of time? (i got an advice from someone telling me working at a dental office is not that good b/c im not really shadowing them--research would be better)

I have no idea who gave you this advice, but working at the dental office is the best thing you can do to prove yourself that youre dedicated and also to really find out if it's right for you. shadowing is honestly nothing. it doesn't really give you hand-on experience and it gives you no idea about how office runs and etc.
at my work, i file insurance claims, deal with inventory, work as a registered assistance (make temporaries, x-rays, impressions, etc.) and i can write these down on my application and i can talk about things like this much better than other students who only got their shadowing hours. also, if you find good dentists, they will actually explain to you why they do certain procedures and also how to run the front (office management). for example, my dentist trained me with CEREC and i made my own crown which I will bring with me during interview as a conversation topic (just in case if i do get a chance), and also i get to do prophy (cleaning) on my dentist's family whenever they come to the office.

working at the dental office is the best thing you can do to prepare yourself for the field and get the idea.

-how many schools should I apply to? (there are more dental schools than opto schools)

this would depend completely on your stats. last year i applied to 4 out-of-states and 3 in-states and had 2 interviews and no acceptances. this year i am applying to 15 out-of-states and same 3 in-states.
i think if i applied to 15 out-of-states, i could have had a good chance of at least getting into one of them (i have 3.4 with 21/20/21). so if you want to save money on applying and rather take the chance, you can probably apply around 5-10. but if you want to get in for sure on your first try, i would say around 15 schools.

-what are the main schools that people apply to?

main schools that ppl apply to are Boston, Tufts, NYU, Temple, etc.
these are based on applicant numbers. since they have huge applicant pool, their avg. GPA and DAT appear to be bit on the lower side compared to some schools but that is also because they have huge class which accepts students from different backgrounds.

i would suggest you to purchase ADEA's Official Guide to Dental School (newest version possible) and research it yourself. look at GPA/DAT range which match your number, look at instate/outofstate ratio acceptances, look at app. numbers, look at preferred residencies, etc.

this process takes time and also try www.predents.com to get some ideas too (but this site represents only porition of actual applicants so you have to be cautious about numbers found on this website)

-any other advice or comments would be greatly appreciated.. I have a year to prove to the schools that I am sure of my choice

i think you are on a great path. you chose a very interesting and exciting career path and i am pretty sure you will not regret it.
just get your foot in the door. call all the offices in your area (when i got my first job as dental assistant, i called literally about 100 different dental offices in my city. i went through yellowpages, yahoo searches, craigslist, and etc. but once i found the right dentist, he paid for my dental assistant licence class and also taught me so much about dentistry, i am feeling much more confident about the field than ever).
also study hard for DAT! (even if you have good GPAs and don't need to score high on DAT, you can get some scholarships if you have good DATs)

good luck!
 
OP
Noemimi

Noemimi

10+ Year Member
Jun 26, 2007
60
0
Bay Area, CA
usfca.facebook.com
Status
Pre-Dental
thanks for your help....

shadowing has come pretty easy. The doctors I have asked have been so kind and friendly and have allowed me to shadow them. However, I am having issues trying to find a job in a dental office. Everyone wants experienced people--even though I am more than willing to do the simplier tasks--like cleaning, etc as a volunteer or something....Any advice on this issue?
 
Jun 1, 2009
380
0
Status
Pre-Dental
Well, volunteering is one thing, but a paid job is another. I think it's pretty difficult to find a paid job at a dental clinic, since most dentists want certified DAs, or experienced office managers, etc. However volunteering would still provide some good experience in the field, and personally, I enjoy it. Once again, it does depend on where you do it -- some dentists allow you to do more than others.