Hi everyone! My name is Lydia Lorenc and I am a second-year dental student at Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine in Downers Grove, IL. I completed my undergraduate degree in biology at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN, and continued on to pursue my master’s degree in biology at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, IN.
Preparing for dental school is a challenging, exciting, and rewarding journey. You, along with other pre-health students, know all-too-well the importance of extracurriculars during your undergraduate experience. One of the most beneficial takeaways from your extracurricular involvement is your ability to develop solid leadership skills. These skills will carry you through dental school and into your professional career, and the perfect time to build and expand your foundation in leadership is in college!
Leadership roles can include team captains, creating your own club on campus, or student government/council just to name a few! In my own experience, I served as a team captain on my collegiate golf team, served on the executive board of my college’s dance company, and held various roles within my college’s student government, including Student Body Vice President. I believe my experiences as a leader in these roles have allowed me to develop my time management, interpersonal, critical thinking, and collaborative skills; all of which have prepared me to succeed as a dentist.
As I navigate through my second year of dental school, I have come to appreciate all the opportunities I had to be a leader. I constantly find myself taking the initiative to challenge myself in Sim lab when it comes to practicing and developing my hand skills. Also, I’ve found that working with my faculty members requires a level of professionalism, that without enhanced leadership skills, I would be tentative to communicate openly with them.
When I was interviewing for dental schools, one of the most asked questions (besides the typical “tell me about yourself”) was “what was your leadership experience in college?”. Your interviewers are looking for the different ways you held a leadership role, and how your time as a leader has shaped how think and act today. Your ability to explain your leadership skills to an interviewer will demonstrate how you will perform as a classmate, colleague, and future dentist. I don’t believe you need to be the president/captain of every organization you’re involved in but try to find ways to be a great leader through your actions! As cliché as it sounds, your actions speak louder than words, so don’t seek leadership roles just for gratification!
In your dental career, leadership will take on many forms. A dentist is the team lead – guiding, encouraging, teaching, listening, and communicating with their office staff, assistants, hygienists, and patients. One of the most important factors in the success of your dental practice will be your ability to establish strong patient-doctor relationships. The ultimate goal of dentists is to provide the best, personalized care to each patient that we encounter. Thus, maintaining and practicing strong leadership skills to effectively communicate with patients will be what sets you apart from other dentists.
So, start building your leadership skills now! Be creative, ambitious, and energetic about being a leader. It’ll make you a better clinician in the long run! :)