chickensoupdr

7+ Year Member
May 2, 2010
384
28
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
I'm planning to apply next cycle, but I don't have any shadowing/volunteer experiences as of now. I believe that watching a dentist will give me a better idea of what it means to be a dentist and what responsibilities entail. But from the point of the dental school admission team, what is the point of shadowing/volunteering? Would a competitive applicant have many hours of shadowing one particular dentist or is it more impressive to shadow different types of dentists (ie., general, endodontist, oral surgeon, etc.)?

Any advice is appreciated. Thank you!
And good luck to everyone tomorrow! :luck:
 

eringer

5+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
84
0
Status
Pre-Dental
I think they definitely want to see that you have shadowed general dentists. I shadowed general dentists for about 50 hrs and then spent the rest of my hours with specialists. I think its a good idea to shadow a few general dentists rather than just one a bunch. Plus, it gets way too boring to be at the same office forever.
 

SuperTank

5+ Year Member
Jul 7, 2009
640
0
Phoenix
Status
Dental Student
I'm planning to apply next cycle, but I don't have any shadowing/volunteer experiences as of now. I believe that watching a dentist will give me a better idea of what it means to be a dentist and what responsibilities entail. But from the point of the dental school admission team, what is the point of shadowing/volunteering? Would a competitive applicant have many hours of shadowing one particular dentist or is it more impressive to shadow different types of dentists (ie., general, endodontist, oral surgeon, etc.)?

Any advice is appreciated. Thank you!
And good luck to everyone tomorrow! :luck:
Dental schools want you to shadow so that you really know what you're getting yourself into. The last thing they want to have happen is for you to not make it through the program.

I shadowed a bunch of different general dentists as well as a couple specialists. I think the more shadowing you can do, and the more dentists you're able to shadow, the better. You'll start to spot things you want to emulate/avoid in your own practice, and it'll be a cool experience overall.
 
Last edited:
Dec 11, 2009
46
0
Status
Pre-Dental
Shadowing can definitely get boring at times. When you're shadowing though, make sure you picture yourself in the dentist's shoes and performing the procedures yourself, instead of just watching passively as an outside observer. That way, you'll have a good idea on whether or not dentistry is for you.
 

Kobebucsfan

7+ Year Member
Apr 20, 2010
731
7
Status
Pre-Medical
Shadowing can definitely get boring at times. When you're shadowing though, make sure you picture yourself in the dentist's shoes and performing the procedures yourself, instead of just watching passively as an outside observer. That way, you'll have a good idea on whether or not dentistry is for you.
i have been shadowing for a while but i dont think I am learning anything about the teeth and procedures

I just observe what the dentist is doing, is that okay for now or am i supposed to learn specific things while shadowing

in the interview will they ask me questions about procedures and stuff
 

SuperTank

5+ Year Member
Jul 7, 2009
640
0
Phoenix
Status
Dental Student
i have been shadowing for a while but i dont think I am learning anything about the teeth and procedures

I just observe what the dentist is doing, is that okay for now or am i supposed to learn specific things while shadowing

in the interview will they ask me questions about procedures and stuff
You don't need to be learning anything, just take it all in. Ask questions though, to know what the dentist is doing. I could conceivably see an interview where they ask you what impressed you about shadowing, or what types of procedures you observed, but they wouldn't go into detail. The goal is really to just find out what dentists do, and for you to see if it's something you could see yourself doing.
 
Jul 21, 2010
152
0
Status
Pre-Dental
Volunteering as a dental assistant really gave me an idea of what I'm getting myself into, much more so than with shadowing. If you can, I would strongly suggest volunteering or working as an assistant - you see more and learn more about the profession. Good luck! :)
 

IdahoDoc

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Aug 26, 2007
500
1
Status
Dental Student
As was mentioned above, the schools feel it is super important that you know what you're getting your self into. It is an expensive mistake for the school to have people drop form their class. Thing about it they lose out on tuition for the time your not there. That could be a couple hundred grand. While this may sound like it could never happen it does all the time. I am just about to finish up my first semester as a D1 and we have already lost 3 students. I know these people observed before they applied but i guess not enough. SO look at different dentist if one is dull go to another. You will be surprised how much a difference it is when they talk you through everything they do.
 

SuperTank

5+ Year Member
Jul 7, 2009
640
0
Phoenix
Status
Dental Student
As was mentioned above, the schools feel it is super important that you know what you're getting your self into. It is an expensive mistake for the school to have people drop form their class. Thing about it they lose out on tuition for the time your not there. That could be a couple hundred grand. While this may sound like it could never happen it does all the time. I am just about to finish up my first semester as a D1 and we have already lost 3 students. I know these people observed before they applied but i guess not enough. SO look at different dentist if one is dull go to another. You will be surprised how much a difference it is when they talk you through everything they do.
It's true... the school stands to lose a LOT of money if someone drops out. That's a big reason why the application process is so difficult. They want people that really want dentistry.

We've had one student leave the program so far, earlier this month. It must be a difficult thing to walk away from after so many years and so much $$$...
 
OP
C

chickensoupdr

7+ Year Member
May 2, 2010
384
28
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
Thanks for your advice, everyone. I went out and found 2 general dentists who are letting me shadow for the next two or three weeks. If anyone with past-shadowing-experience can help me out by answering my questions, that would be great!

1. What do you do during the shadowing? Just watch? Take notes?
2. When you mention how many hours you shadowed in your dental school application, is it just based on the honor code? Or do I need to get the doctor's signature each time in order to prove that I did indeed do x hours of shadowing?
3. Are you supposed to dress semiformally? Casual?

Thank you ;)
 
Mar 14, 2010
64
0
Status
It's true... the school stands to lose a LOT of money if someone drops out. That's a big reason why the application process is so difficult. They want people that really want dentistry.

We've had one student leave the program so far, earlier this month. It must be a difficult thing to walk away from after so many years and so much $$$...
You make it seem like the school is the good guy in all this. The school loses money...but not in the way you may think. They don't lose much in the actual money they already have, they just lose future profits when a student leaves. That means one less student the school can make profits off of in their clinics.
 

dl9006

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jul 2, 2008
541
1
Status
Dental Student
schools want to see that you know what dentistry is about.
they don't want someone who's going to hate dentistry after he/she was accepted and drop out.

also, if you're lucky, the dentist may allow you to assist during simple treatment. i learned a ton from my dentist because he really wanted to teach me things.

you also get to interact with patients which hopefully will help you transition into the clinic during 3rd year of dental school.

overall, i think shadowing was a good experience, although it was tedious and boring from time to time.
 
Oct 22, 2010
58
0
Status
Pre-Dental
Thanks for your advice, everyone. I went out and found 2 general dentists who are letting me shadow for the next two or three weeks. If anyone with past-shadowing-experience can help me out by answering my questions, that would be great!

1. What do you do during the shadowing? Just watch? Take notes?
2. When you mention how many hours you shadowed in your dental school application, is it just based on the honor code? Or do I need to get the doctor's signature each time in order to prove that I did indeed do x hours of shadowing?
3. Are you supposed to dress semiformally? Casual?

Thank you ;)

1. Mostly watch. Ask the dentist whether you should ask questions while patients are there or wait until they are gone. And make sure you don't ask anything that would make the patient uncomfortable. Taking notes might make the patient feel strange, so I would avoid that. As the staff in the office get to know you, they may offer to let you help out with things in addition to observing -- this depends on the office.

2. Honor code, but of course don't lie. Tufts (and maybe other schools) requires a letter from a dentist you shadowed.

3. I dressed business casual, which was fine.
 

dentalWorks

Nights Watchmen
7+ Year Member
Jun 25, 2009
5,646
158
Sterling Hts, Mi
Status
Dentist
Thanks for your advice, everyone. I went out and found 2 general dentists who are letting me shadow for the next two or three weeks. If anyone with past-shadowing-experience can help me out by answering my questions, that would be great!

1. What do you do during the shadowing? Just watch? Take notes?
2. When you mention how many hours you shadowed in your dental school application, is it just based on the honor code? Or do I need to get the doctor's signature each time in order to prove that I did indeed do x hours of shadowing?
3. Are you supposed to dress semiformally? Casual?

Thank you ;)
1) you just stand there and watch. Don't ask questions infront of the patient, or at least I wouldn't. I usually save all my questions to when the dentist is free.
2) yes, its honor code. Some schools want to see a Letter of recommendation from the dentist you shadowed, and in the letter, have him/her mention approx how many hours to spend shadowing
3) I always wore scrubs. Its what the 2 dentists I shadowed wanted. They wanted me to look like a regular employee there. Apparently, some patients don't feel comfortable being "watched" by someone wearing non-office clothes.