10+ Year Member
Dec 19, 2008
Chicago, Illinois
I am new to thing and pre dentistry path so hello.
I would love to hear about peoples experiences or any advice anyone may have about the following:

For those with research experience, were those obtained through your university?

I think doing research would be cool, but I'm not sure how one goes about doing it.

Also, is there an advantage to working as a dental assistant over just shadowing someone? (other than the money of course)

Has anyone volunteered at any of the free/sliding scale clinics in Chicago? I'm going to be contacting places soon, am exciting about helping out there.

Thanks guys :love:


10+ Year Member
Dec 7, 2007
Quiet part of the library...
Heyy! first of all I would love to say welcome on board the StudentDoctor Forums.

Wohh, I'm in the chi too, nice to see we got other chicagoans on the forum...

Im a sophomore predent in the suburbs

Everythings helps, any experience, but it depends on what you can manage and what your schedules like.

I have been shadowing a dentist for the last 7 months, i shadowed and just helped out, the more i got used to the setting the more hands on experience i was getting. Now im basically an on call assistant, and since im on break now, i get called in more often bec of the nasty weather we have been getting in the chi. I find assisting to be alot of fun, over just shadowing. My dentist is really good about explaining all the details, and is really nice about bearing with me, bec im not a very experienced dental assistant, but im learning and im getting better. I've been looking for a regular part time assisting job, but all places want experience, and i found that the little assisting i do when i fill in works well for me.

there are free clinics which you can volunteer at too! i also volunteer at place called the Dupage Community Clinic in Wheaton. Other places u can volunteer which i have been researched are Goldi's Place and Ronald McDonalds clinic on wheels. If you want any details on the places let me know. I assume UIC must be a top pick for you since you are a Chicagoan. UIC looks for community service, so anytype of community service is looked really well upon. Im doing the Community Clinic because it works as my community service, and my dental experience. So it kills two birds with one stone, works out kinda nice! haha

If you got any questions let me know... i'd be glad to help ya out.

Good luck with everything


Ohio State 2013
10+ Year Member
Nov 15, 2008
Columbus, OH
Dental Student
Dental school admissions committees take volunteering and research experience very seriously. Hundreds of hours of documented volunteering is almost mandatory to get into dental school now. I did Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, things around and through my university, and lots of other stuff. I went on two mission trips to Mexico (those really help the hours jump by hundreds, and lots of good stories for your interview).

I did research, it's really easy to set up usually. Most schools have an undergraduate office set up to help people get involved in research, but you can also simply approach your professors and ask if they know of any research openings. Just show interest and you're likely to be welcomed in. Most all sciences professors at university are working on research, so you should be able to find something you are interested in.

I was working towards my Microbiology degree with a focus on Food Micro, and I approached the professor who taught Food Micro here at Ohio State, and worked in his lab for a PhD student studying heat tolerance of Salmonella typhirium strains. It is also probably the reason I got such a good job as a microbiologist right out of school for the year between undergrad and dental school. Making $40,000/yr before dental school is awesome, I've never had money (and saved up enough to buy a nice diamond ring for my fiance).

I think there is certainly an advantage being an assistant, simply having more experience with dentistry, but the admission comittees do not expect every applicant to have worked in dentist office. Good luck and welcome to SDN!


10+ Year Member
Aug 12, 2008

Finding a research position shouldn't be too hard if your University has a lot of research going on. I find that most of my upper division, even lower division class professor's are involved in research. Just shoot them an email asking if they accept undergraduate intern/volunteers, and make sure also to ask if they have colleagues who need help in their lab. Most of the time, you will find something. Also, if you have a friend who has a position, have them connect you with the right people. I got my position through my friend who graduated so I continued his work.

As for volunteering, I'm sure there are many clubs on campus who does volunteer work, and if there aren't any..start your own! It'll be fun, rewarding, and a great experience.

As for work experience, it could never hurt to have some dental related job, but make sure to put school first. I had to quit my computer center job to focus on school while doing research.

I think you can find professor emails on faculty websites or ask your own professors. Good luck to you!
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