My name is Abbie Lippincott and I am a current D2 at the Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health. I graduated from Harding University in December 2019 with a bachelor's degree in exercise science. I took a gap year and worked as a dental assistant, where I was able to gain invaluable experience before starting dental school in the summer of 2021.
Your time as a pre-dental student is both stressful and exciting. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind while working on your application and toward your goal of starting dental school.
Get as much Dental Experience as Possible
As pre-dental students, we tend to look at shadowing as just another box we need to check off for our application. I encourage you to look at shadowing as an opportunity to see what your day-to-day life will be like once you start your career. Try to shadow at different types of offices (private practice, community health centers, corporate dental offices, etc.), this could help you decide what your goals are for your future career as a dentist. This also allows you to make multiple connections with current dentists. This leads me to my next point.
Establish a Dental Mentor
One of the best things that came out of my gap year was gaining a mentor and friend in the dentist I worked for. Lots of dentists are willing to invest in the future of dentistry and enjoy being someone you can reach out to for advice and support. Finding a dental mentor that understands what you are aspiring to achieve and the challenges you will face along the way is such a comfort. They can also share tips and tricks with you regarding different dental techniques, treatment planning, or patient care.
Research Scholarship Opportunities
It’s a well-known fact that dental school is extremely expensive, so why not try to find a way to get it paid for either fully or partially? There are multiple national service-type scholarships, some military, some not military, where you get your school paid for in return for service in an underserved area once you graduate. If you are willing to commit to multiple years of service, you have the opportunity to have your entire dental school education paid for. Some scholarships even include monthly stipends for living expenses. These scholarships aren’t for everyone's lifestyle, but if any of them are a fit for you I recommend applying.
Dental school is a constant battle. It will push you mentally, academically, emotionally, and physically for four years. As you currently find yourself extremely challenged by the daunting task of getting into dental school, know that this journey is making sure you’re prepared for the long road ahead. And I trust me, you will be.
What are you finding most challenging on your journey to dental school? What tips do you have for others on their pre-dental journey? Comment you answer below!