Updated: Aug 6
So now that you have found a dentist that you would like to shadow, what do you do?
First off, you should know that in our experience, most dentists are more than willing to allow you to shadow them, so don't be scared to ask. If the dentist does decline, try another one! There is a high chance the next will be sure to let you.
Asking a Dentist that You Personally Know
If you already know the dentist, you're in luck, it is even easier to ask! It is as simple as giving them a call or asking the next time you see them. We would recommend saying something like this: "Dr. ________. I'm really interested in learning more about what you do. Would it be ok if I came to your office to shadow?" Simple, straight to the point, and easy!
Asking a Dentist you Haven't Met
Here is where some students are a bit more intimidated, but as we said earlier, most dentists would be happy to have you come to their office! You have a couple of options to ask if you can shadow.
Go to their office and introduce yourself
Give them a call
We would recommend the first option if possible, but either works great. The advantage of asking in person is that it allows the dentist (or at least his front staff) to know who you are before you arrive to shadow. You'll also probably feel a little more comfortable knowing how to get to the office and who you'll interact with when you get there. Another great advantage is that it allows you to show your dedication to come shadow and learn from the dentist. Remember, you might be asking for a letter of recommendation in the future!
What do I Say?
So when you show up in person, what should you say? We would advise saying something along these lines:
"Hi, there! My name is _______ and I am a pre-dental student at _________ university. I am wondering if Dr. ___________ allows students to shadow? I would love the opportunity if she does!"
The front office will then let you know if the doctor allows shadowing. It is likely that the dentist will be busy with patients, but the front office can usually get you scheduled to come back. They will likely ask for some information from you.
Your name (they may have forgotten it already).
Your contact information
What days you would like to come in.
How long on those days you would like to shadow.
It is good to know the answers to these questions before you ask to shadow, so be sure to think about it beforehand.
If you are calling to schedule, we would still say the same thing. Be prepared to give the same information to the front office. We would recommend offering to send in your resume/CV via email so that the dentist can know a little about you before you come in.
What to do if the Dentist comes out while I'm there?
This is great! Introduce yourself in the same way mentioned above and ask if it would be ok for you to come shadow. This will form a great first impression and show your dedication to learning from this dentist!
Here are a few things to consider before you call/visit.
Know what days and times are best for you to shadow. You'll likely be asked this. Be sure to ask what time and days are best for the dentist, also!
Remember to ask what is best to wear. Some offices have different preferences. A future blog post will review this as well!
Plan shorter shadowing blocks when you first start. These are long days, and you'll likely want to do just a morning/afternoon at first.
Practice what you will say a few times if you feel nervous. Just know, that you'll do great! :)
What other strategies did you use when you asked a dentist if you could shadow them. Were you nervous? Let us know your experiences in the comments!
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