Orthodontics--by far-- is the best profession in the world. With your clinical skillset and dental knowledge, you are able to change someone’s life through their smile. Kids and adults that were once self-conscious about their teeth are given a new beginning and an amazing transformation all thanks to you and your team. I could not be more thankful for my dental journey and the opportunity to practice dentistry today. A few of the best pieces of advice for anyone interested in dentistry or orthodontics that I could give would be: make your resume unique, volunteer as much as possible, research the dental school where you are interviewing, and show that you can balance varying aspects of your life.
While you most likely have been a stand-out academic in high school and college, your grades will not make you special to the dental acceptance committee. The dental school you are applying to only interviews those that are academically excelling. Therefore, while maintaining the best G.P.A. you can manage, you have to make your application unique in other ways. I highly recommend packing your resume with cool job experiences, travel adventures, sports/extracurriculars, hobbies that show hand skills,
and volunteer work that you love. Dental schools want students that will make each class
special, and they search for these uncommon attributes that make you, you. And no, they do not have to be dental-related! In college, I worked at the Louisville Zoo as a Rides and Attractions employee, giving tours and operating the rides. This job, while not associated with dentistry at all, improved my public speaking abilities and showed that I enjoyed working closely with people and animals.
Giving back to your community is expected in dentistry. You are seen as a leader in your area and being involved with volunteer work allows you to show appreciation to those that support you. I recommend dedicating 30 hours of community service to a single cause that you are passionate about and deem worthy of your time, rather than 2 hours at 15 different events. For me, I loved volunteering at Special Olympics and elementary schools! We completed dental screenings under the supervision of local dentists and referred them if they needed dental care. The athletes, kids, and families were grateful and it was extremely rewarding giving back to these populations.
Additionally, research the schools you are attending! Find out what causes they dedicate time to. One of my dental school interviewers was the head of the community service department. Since I had researched what projects the school was involved in, we were able to talk about community service my entire interview. It was the easiest conversation I had had at an interview, and he was impressed that I did my research. Remember... the school is interviewing you, but you need to be interviewing them, too! By researching their community service projects, classes, clinical and academic staff, you can see if they align with your vision of the dental school.
Finally, show you can balance school and social life. Everyone applying can maintain good grades. Everyone can volunteer. But can you manage your time well enough to have fun throughout the process? Go hiking! Go to school events! Attend concerts! Workout! Play ultimate frisbee! They want you to have life experience and want to see that you can handle the difficulty of dentistry, all while maintaining your sanity. While orthodontics is incredible, every day I deal with difficult parents, stressful cases, mundane business tasks, insurance companies, a full staff, kids that refuse to brush their teeth, etc. But at the end of the day, I have to manage all of these things to the best of my ability and still live my life. Dental schools want to know that you can handle the stress that comes with dentistry, not just the amazing aspects of it. So, while you are working on becoming the best applicant, have fun and enjoy your college experience and find ways to balance it all! Dental school and the rest of your life will thank you when figuring out the best way for you to balance everything early. Please reach out to me if you have any questions! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my Instagram is @lipsticksandorthodontics.