The ideal dental school applicant will have a 3.5 cumulative GPA or higher. And remember – there are NO dumb questions! Before reaching out to dentists, get an idea of how long you intend to shadow. If they were open to me shadowing, then I would find out when would be a good time to come in, the type of attire they prefer (scrubs vs business), which dentist I could shadow and any other related questions I may have. If you wait until the last minute and have trouble finding a practice to observe, it can be very stressful. I didn’t have a prior connection with Skyline Dental prior to this, and it was a convenient location for me. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – a lot of questions. Students and area dentists work together to help homeless individuals maintain oral health, which in turn builds confidence to become self-supporting and financially independent. Dentists are a great source for getting practical perspectives on current trends in dentistry. How do you balance work and family life? Of course, you may need to make changes to your daily schedule. Outside of interacting with and treating patients, dentists have many responsibilities that may include running a business, teaching, or doing research. If that’s not possible, ask them to recommend another dentist to shadow, or contact a local dental school. The shadowing experience allows prospective students the opportunity to sit chair-side while a third or fourth-year dental student treats patients. One of the main purposes in seeking shadowing experience in candidates is to give the admissions officers confidence that you have gained exposure to the day-to-day work of dentistry and feel at home in the dental environment. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, better known as HIPAA, provides strict provisions for safeguarding medical information. In a way, I wanted to have as much fun out of it as I could because shadowing was a way for me to test the water about my interest and commitment to dentistry. To do this I first shadowed the dentists and dental assistants. I also shadowed Dr. Evans and his private practice, Stratford Dental in Bloomingdale, IL to get the experience of seeing a private office and comparing it to corporate dentistry. 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I spent about 10-15 hours in this first experience. Students may shadow in the general clinic or specialty clinics within the school when available. You might ask why this experience can be so important. Always be respectful of their willingness and time to help you succeed. The most surprising thing I learned is that different dentists have their own way of doing some of the most common procedures. It is important to be social while remaining professional in their office because they have given you the opportunity to learn and experience what a dental career could look like for you. I loved every moment that I spent shadowing, and I felt that it did reinforce my interest in dentistry, and led me to becoming a pre-dental student. According to ADEA’s Go Dental Guide, shadowing is “going to a dentist’s or dental specialist’s office to observe procedures, learn terminology and techniques, observe different practice environments and ask the dental professional questions about his or her journey to practicing dentistry.”. Make sure you shadow several general dentists (GD). I actually shadowed a lot and also got a job as an assistant. I believe the best way to connect with the dentist is by asking them questions to show them your interest in learning about the profession. An alternative to observing is to get hands-on experience through being an assistant. Even if it’s not required, shadowing is usually recommended as part of the dental school application process. If you suggest this to a dentist, most of them will be willing to let you come in and shadow. Shadowing a dentist helps a prospective dental student become acquainted with many aspects of the field. If your personal dentist is unable to be shadowed, ask if he or she can recommend another practitioner. Reach Out to Local Dentists to Ask Questions. For example, as a volunteer in a dental practice or clinic, you may be performing duties like setting up instruments or administrative tasks and not observing or interacting with the dentist. Most dental programs require applicants to have 100 hours of experience job shadowing many dentists so that you can see how different offices operate. Applicants may not score below a C in any required course, end of story. Whenever you made your choice, you have to be sure to prepare yourself to pursue this profession and shadowing a dentist is a crucial part of that process. If you could change something about the practice of dentistry, what would it be? Would you still pursue dentistry if you could go back in time? I even had the opportunity to learn alongside an orthopedic surgeon. Volunteering in a community health center can be very valuable in learning the importance of oral health in communities of need. You’ll also observe different practice models. I shadowed at a dental office that had all the latest dental gadgets from CAD CAM to soft tissue lasers and volunteered as an assistant at a community dental clinic, which at the time was still using paper charts. Ask them how they are utilizing the latest clinical methods, technology, and marketing for dentistry. Many schools average Biology, Chemistry, and Physics (BCP) GPAs together. Many students start with their personal dentist. Dental schools like to see applicants with shadowing experience, as it shows that the student has a solid grasp of what is involved in the practice of dentistry. Students who shadow also learn about the role of assistants and hygienists in care delivery, as well as the customer service practices used and the wide range of technology involved in modern practices. Get engaged, be proactive, and show your passion! So, it makes sense to get the most out of the hours you’ll spend shadowing. Either way, shadowing is the perfect way to open your eyes to all that this profession has to offer. Some practices have open floor plans while others have doors and walls separating each operatory. If medical school is in your future, you’ll need to shadow a doctor before you apply. Continue shadowing dentists (you will be required to submit a letter of recommendation from a practicing dentist, so establish continuity and a good relationship with at least one dentist) Get involved on campus and seek leadership opportunities (there should be various pre-health organizations or maybe even a pre-dental … Dental shadowing and volunteer work are important factors in developing an understanding of dentistry, and service to community. These are also very important aspects to being a successful dentist. It’s worse to not ask questions, than to regret not getting the knowledge you need while you have the chance. Have you ever thought about why hand skills are so important in dentistry? Finally, don’t be discouraged if a practice rejects your request to shadow. And I would have the dentist sign off each time I came in. procedures, learn terminology and techniques, observe different practice [...], 801 S. Paulina St. Answer: You wouldn’t. I shadowed with Dr. Ned at Skyline Smile, in the Chicago West Loop. We all know it’s the polite thing to do: say “thank you” after someone gives or does something for you. Among the many benefits, assisting can help to increase your comfort talking with patients,  and using dental equipment and materials. Just keep trying! Some dental schools require a specific number of shadowing or observation hours. Do you have any advice? Sometimes, the dentist is uncomfortable with another person in the room besides the patient and an assistant. If you don’t have a relative, friend or close connection who practices, then try searching for dentists in your area. I shadowed about 70 hours over the course of a year, usually on a weekly basis. Understanding what it means to be a healthcare professional is critical for individuals who are considering a career in the healthcare industry. When you shadow, you’ll observe procedures, learn terminology, and have the opportunity to ask dentists about their profession. Depending on your level of experience and whether you have certifications, you may shadow a local dentist, prepare and sterilize equipment, carry out maintenance duties in the clinic or hospital, visit schools and community centers to educate about oral hygiene, and even directly assist dentists … Finally, don’t forget to thank the dental team for your time and assistance in helping you succeed. Aside from having a close friend or family in the field, there simply is no better way to get the inside story about one of the top jobs in the US (US News Top Jobs Report, 2018). Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, better known as HIPAA, Jumpstart your Dental Career in High School, Five tips for the best dental shadowing experience, Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP). Make sure the dental office team knows how many hours you are interested in so they can prepare their schedule. Shadowing is a clinical observation of a professional providing care to a patient. You are [...], Have you put some thought into how you will write your personal statement for application? Beyond the fact that shadowing is a required extracurricular activity for medical school, it also helps you be certain that you’re entering the profession with open eyes. I’d recommend not rushing the process. What do you find challenging about your profession? 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