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VENTING....suggestions welcome

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oceanblue5841

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Hi all, I've been a member of this forum for about two years, and I think its time that I let out a little steam. As an aspiring dentist, I have become frustrated and irritated at dentists. I recently took my DAT and did well on it, I even got an interview at the Dental school in San Antonio. I am not interested in going to an out of state school for financial reasons. I currently cannot apply to the other two schools in Texas because they require a letter of reccomondtion from a dentist, which I don't have. The person who got me interested in the field, was a cousin of mine who is a practicing dentist in Mexico. During my vacations there I would do a lot of shadowing. I'm from a small town north of Lubbock Texas, and it seems almost impossible to get a dentist to open their doors to me! The #1 reason/excuse is "liability issues". What the he**?! How is a person supposed to get that letter, if a Dentist won't help out!? I'm sure they were in my shoes once, and a dentist opened their doors to them, but they can't do the same? Why are they even a dentist, if they don't know how to truly serve their community, in my case, serving an aspiring young man! I have made phone calls, shown up at offices well dressed, and have even written letters, but to no avail. If anyone out there has a suggestion I would love to hear it!
 

Firm

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Hi all, I've been a member of this forum for about two years, and I think its time that I let out a little steam. As an aspiring dentist, I have become frustrated and irritated at dentists. I recently took my DAT and did well on it, I even got an interview at the Dental school in San Antonio. I am not interested in going to an out of state school for financial reasons. I currently cannot apply to the other two schools in Texas because they require a letter of reccomondtion from a dentist, which I don't have. The person who got me interested in the field, was a cousin of mine who is a practicing dentist in Mexico. During my vacations there I would do a lot of shadowing. I'm from a small town north of Lubbock Texas, and it seems almost impossible to get a dentist to open their doors to me! The #1 reason/excuse is "liability issues". What the he**?! How is a person supposed to get that letter, if a Dentist won't help out!? I'm sure they were in my shoes once, and a dentist opened their doors to them, but they can't do the same? Why are they even a dentist, if they don't know how to truly serve their community, in my case, serving an aspiring young man! I have made phone calls, shown up at offices well dressed, and have even written letters, but to no avail. If anyone out there has a suggestion I would love to hear it!

A little advice. Go visit a dentist for a cleaning. Tell him/her that you want to go to dental school. Ask if they would sign a letter of recommendation for you. Then go home, type up an awesome letter of rec, drop it off at their office, come back the following week, and submit it to the other schools. Now don't you feel a little better?
 

GobBluth

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A little advice. Go visit a dentist for a cleaning. Tell him/her that you want to go to dental school. Ask if they would sign a letter of recommendation for you. Then go home, type up an awesome letter of rec, drop it off at their office, come back the following week, and submit it to the other schools. Now don't you feel a little better?

You want him to write his own letter of recommendation? Briliant. :rolleyes:

OP, is it not possible to get a letter from the dentists you shadowed back in Mexico? I don't believe there are any rules against having a letter from a non ADEA-accredited dentist, though I'm not sure.
 

Demeter

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A little advice. Go visit a dentist for a cleaning. Tell him/her that you want to go to dental school. Ask if they would sign a letter of recommendation for you. Then go home, type up an awesome letter of rec, drop it off at their office, come back the following week, and submit it to the other schools. Now don't you feel a little better?

This is exactly what I did.
If you can't get anyone to open their doors to you, then you are welcome to drive down to Austin and shadow me for a few days at my practice.
 

billythekid

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This is exactly what I did.
If you can't get anyone to open their doors to you, then you are welcome to drive down to Austin and shadow me for a few days at my practice.

nice gesture. this is why sdn is great.
 

oceanblue5841

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I think the only problem with the idea is that tmdsas has a form asking the dentist specific questions and I believe that the dentist has to send that form along with the rec letter. I was told by my professors that getting a letter from a practicing dentist here in the USA would be better, as one from a dentist in Mexico might be looked down upon, it might work in my favor though, but I'm going to check! Also if things get down to the nitty gritty I might come down to Austin, I have some family there. if anyone on sdn knows of a dentist in the Lubbock/Amarillo area please let me know. If there are dentists out there on sdn that want to help out I'd be more than willing to give you a copy of last years dental application so you can get a better idea of what kind of applicant I am!
 

tinman831

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We all had to jump through the same hoops when applying to dental school. Your situation is not unique. Ask to shadow a dentist here in the states and try to get to know them better. You may get rejected by a handful of dentists before you meet one who will let you follow them around. Once they are more familiar with you, then ask them for a letter of recommendation.
 

TwentyTwelve

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No offense, but why are you venting? Lubbock has over 300,000 residents and I am sure over 200+ dentists. If this is so important to you then instead of taking your vacation in Mexico, stay in your small town and drive to Lubbock to shadow. If the commuting time is over 3 hours one way then get a hotel for the week. Call ten dentists in Lubbock with good reviews. All you need is one to call back and you can go from there.

If you want it, go get it....
 

mike3kgt

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Keep looking, there are some good dentists out there who will help you out. I just can't imagine why any dentist wouldn't welcome an undergrad into their office to observe.

Heck, I've had students before, made them grab a suction and put them to work. Don't know what you're doing? Even better, sit down and learn.

Find the website of your local dental society, contact the representative and ask them if they would recommend any dentists who have expressed interest in having a student watch dentistry. Start easy and say you just want to hang out for a day and then if you have a good vibe, ask if you can come back and go from there.

How many hours of shadowing do they recommend these days? It wasn't very important in my day, I think I had a total of like 2 hours of observing before dental school :)
 

GobBluth

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Or you could let it stop you from going to dental school.

Why would you ask someone to sign a letter of recommendation before you ask them to write you one? That's just cutting corners on purpose and taking the quickest, most painless, and most questionable route to what you want, instead of trying the traditional, legitimate method first. Put some effort into it; shadow, get to know the person, then ask them after they actually have a reason to appreciate your goals. Skipping right to, "Hey, thanks for the cleaning. Will you sign this piece of paper I wrote myself so I can weasel my way into dental school?" is disrespectful to the dentist as well as to the standards you're supposed to be setting for yourself and upholding as a student, and future professional. Are you kidding me? You didn't even try.

Just because the OP hasn't yet found a dentist who will write him a letter doesn't mean that the only way he's going to get one is by writing it himself. He, presumably from his post, hasn't even tried to get to know any of them yet. I first asked for permission to shadow my dentist, shadowed for a few weeks, then in the middle of my shadowing, inquired into whether he would be interested in writing me a letter. And this was WHILE I was still completing my application. I'm sure that if I just asked my dentist outright for a letter he would've told me he didn't think it was appropriate. You get as much out of it as you put in. Besides, this way, the letter will actually be *good*, since it'll be written by someone who appreciates your efforts, sees your commitment, and knows what to write about it.
 
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Why would you ask someone to sign a letter of recommendation before you ask them to write you one? That's just cutting corners on purpose and taking the quickest, most painless, and most questionable route to what you want, instead of trying the traditional, legitimate method first. Put some effort into it; shadow, get to know the person, then ask them after they actually have a reason to appreciate your goals. Skipping right to, "Hey, thanks for the cleaning. Will you sign this piece of paper I wrote myself so I can weasel my way into dental school?" is disrespectful to the dentist as well as to the standards you're supposed to be setting for yourself and upholding as a student, and future professional. Are you kidding me? You didn't even try.
I actually prefer the student to write the LOR and I just sign it. This would save me a lot of time.
 

GobBluth

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I actually prefer the student to write the LOR and I just sign it. This would save me a lot of time.

But if you've allowed this student/applicant to shadow you, and you've seen that they have a keen interest in dentistry and their shadowing experience was positive, wouldn't you be at least marginally motivated to write them a good letter? I don't quite understand the value in a letter of recommendation that was written by the applicant him/herself. It trivializes the requirement entirely and is just an acknowledgement that people don't respect the application process and the amount of effort that needs to be put in.
 

doc toothache

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I think the LOR that comes from a college professor (or from a dentist who teaches at dental school) would be more valuable than the one that comes from me. I am just a lowly unknown dentist.

A clinical instructor is possibly someone who has too many holes in the schedule, but if adcoms thought differently they would specify a DDS/DMD with the qualifications you seem to admire.
 

gryffindor

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But if you've allowed this student/applicant to shadow you, and you've seen that they have a keen interest in dentistry and their shadowing experience was positive, wouldn't you be at least marginally motivated to write them a good letter? I don't quite understand the value in a letter of recommendation that was written by the applicant him/herself. It trivializes the requirement entirely and is just an acknowledgement that people don't respect the application process and the amount of effort that needs to be put in.

I once wrote a very nice letter for an assistant getting her hours for assisting school. She really had done a good job with us and I was happy to write it. But that was back when I had time to do such things. If a dental student approached me now, I wouldn't mind at all if they wrote their own letter and sent it to me to edit and sign, assuming that student had shadowed with me and I thought they were a good candidate.

The adcom members at my residency told us the letters only got read in detail if they had something negative in them or if it had been written by one of their dental colleagues. Otherwise, all the letters basically said the same thing and the committee moved on to evaluate other areas of the application.
 

Firm

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I actually prefer the student to write the LOR and I just sign it. This would save me a lot of time.

Thank you CT. I meant that he would ask for the LOR and offer to write it for the dentist so that it says what it needs too and saves the dentist's time. Besides, those admissions committees don't look at those things unless they are signed by the president or somebody like him. It's a barrier to entry, some break through it and others don't.
 

Firm

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But if you've allowed this student/applicant to shadow you, and you've seen that they have a keen interest in dentistry and their shadowing experience was positive, wouldn't you be at least marginally motivated to write them a good letter? I don't quite understand the value in a letter of recommendation that was written by the applicant him/herself. It trivializes the requirement entirely and is just an acknowledgement that people don't respect the application process and the amount of effort that needs to be put in.

Uh huh. :rolleyes:
 

GobBluth

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Is there really any need to be condescending, particularly when your argument boiled down to "I don't have time," and "It doesn't really matter anyway"? Besides, I was just giving my honest opinion, and here you are belittling it. Forgive my good intentions or my desire to do things the way I was asked to do them. It would be helpful if you stepped down from your ivory tower and just explained yourself, instead of resorting to snide, sarcastic comments.

That said, thanks for the explanation, charlestweed. I understand that a dentist's time is valuable, but my first instinct is to do things right; get to know the dentist, have them appreciate my efforts and goals, and then ask them for a letter. I wouldn't cut straight to the chase, as I feel it would be morally presumptuous to assume that the dentist would be willing to sign a letter (never mind writing one) without really knowing me. This is the way my dentist felt as well.
 
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Dr. Dai Phan

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Greetings,

This is how I would approach it. Look at the classified ads under medical/dental and contact the offices that are in need of hiring assistants. Call or write a letter indicating that you would like to shadow the doctor and is willing to help out at any level that you possibly can at no cost to the doctor (of course within the legal limits). Offices that are short of help would tend to welcome you and as a return, unless the doctor does not have a heart, he/she should be able to write a good letter for you. Other places to check out including dental schools or at VA hospitals that have dental service. If you are in Columbia, SC you can shadow me at anytime! DP
 

GobBluth

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I'm the one resorting to snide, sarcastic comments? Pot meet kettle.

I apologise for my hypocrisy. And yet, while I was making a point and elaborated on it, you were simply ignoring what I was saying, for no apparent reason. If you care to disagree with me, then explain yourself, instead of hiding behind some misplaced sense of righteousness. I can't read your mind.


Greetings,

This is how I would approach it. Look at the classified ads under medical/dental and contact the offices that are in need of hiring assistants. Call or write a letter indicating that you would like to shadow the doctor and is willing to help out at any level that you possibly can at no cost to the doctor (of course within the legal limits). Offices that are short of help would tend to welcome you and as a return, unless the doctor does not have a heart, he/she should be able to write a good letter for you. Other places to check out including dental schools or at VA hospitals that have dental service. If you are in Columbia, SC you can shadow me at anytime! DP

Thank you for being the voice of reason, Dr. Phan.
 

Lethstang

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knowing the adcoms at my mba school and other dental schools.....most of the times they dont get read. its simply "do they have them".

also pertaining to the earlier discussion, lots of times the student will write it and the dude will edit and sign it. its quite common.
 

omaralt

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i definitely dont have time to write a LOR. i've had a few people shadow me. i tell them to write their own letter and email it to me. i then read through it, edit it as needed, and then print it out or submit it electronically. writing a good LOR can take a few hrs, and i honestly dont have time for that; especially when i'm doing it 2-3 times a year
 

premolar9

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So I was planning on asking my dentist for an LOR. Is this the norm? Dentists and teachers asking you to write your own letter?? What if when you ask, you show up with your personal statement and resume completed? Wouldn't that help them write the letter and see different parts of you too??
 
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mike3kgt

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i definitely dont have time to write a LOR. i've had a few people shadow me. i tell them to write their own letter and email it to me. i then read through it, edit it as needed, and then print it out or submit it electronically. writing a good LOR can take a few hrs, and i honestly dont have time for that; especially when i'm doing it 2-3 times a year

Come on man, it really doesn't take that much effort. You come up with one good template and then just modify as need be. I've written countless numbers of letters of recommendation for assistants, hygienists, and pre-dent students. It means the entire world to that person so it's the least you can do is take an hour 3 times a year. Heck, do it when a game is on or when a boring tv show the wife is watching is on. Easy.
 
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