Dentistry is one of the most lucrative and rewarding fields of medicine today. Because most dentistry is private health care (even in countries where health care is nationalized) dentist do not face the same cost pressures or paperwork hassles. Work life balance is attractive in the field and offices are generally open during normal business hours. In addition to being an attractive industry to get into, it’s also a very rewarding one. Whether as a dentist or a dental hygienist, you will be on the frontline with patients, helping people to improve their oral health. Many people have absolutely no idea how they are supposed to look after their teeth. You can help these people and can transform their lives for them.
If earning good money and helping people sounds good to you, then here are a few steps that you can take on the path to becoming a dentist.
Selecting a College
The first thing that you need to consider is the college or educational institution that you want to study at. While dentists generally get a bachelor’s degree before going on to dental school, dental hygienists go to specialized programs, which can be found around the country. For example, one of America’s best dental schools is at Texas Woman’s University in Denton. You can get a bachelor's in dental hygiene at Texas Woman’s University, as well as a master’s and your PhD. (Obviously, Texas Woman’s University is a female college, but there hundreds of other programs (typically Coed) around the country. It is also worth noting that there are some degrees that can be taken online, although it may be a better idea to take your course in person so that you get as much practical experience as possible.
Type of Degree
What type of degree do you want? As mentioned previously, there are different types of degrees. The most basic degree is a bachelor’s degree. If you are looking to become a dentist, you would most likely major in the sciences before going on to dental school. As noted, hygienists can go to a 4 year degree that is focused on the field or may get a more general 4 year degree and take a program later in the field.
Level of Commitment
Before applying for any kind of course, you need to be sure that you are going to be able to fully commit yourself to it. A dentistry degree will take up a lot of your time. It’s a very well paid and in-demand field of medicine, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you to learn that it can be very time-consuming and challenging. Many people sign up for courses and don’t consider the time investment that they are going to have to devote to them, which leads to them leaving programs without finishing their degree.
In addition to attending college for a degree in dental hygiene, you may also want to try and get a work placement working in a dentist’s office. Working in a dentist’s office will give you the experience that you need to work independently once you have completed your degree. A college course will only teach you the theory behind dentistry. Working in a dentist’s office will help you to learn all of the practical aspects, which will help you to work on your own one day. You may even be offered a job at the surgery that you have been doing work experience at. It will also give you a sense of whether the career is right for you.
Preparation for classes
Coursework in dentistry is complex and challenging. You are going to prepare yourself if you have been out of school a few years and even if not, it pays to check the academic requirements any expected background in math or sciences. If you underestimate what the courses demand of you, then you could easily end up being overwhelmed. It’s a good idea to do a little bit of research and potentially even speak to somebody who has graduated from the college that you are applying to so that you can work out how challenging it is going to be, and what the curriculum is going to look like. They will also be able to give you honest feedback about the level of student services and the career center.
What do you want to achieve from attending a program in dentistry? Do you have a firm sense of what the field is like? It’s a very good idea to work out what your goals are so that you can work toward achieving them during and after your course. If you are not sure what you want to achieve, then it might be worth working with someone already working in the field. More generally, a career counselor can help you to decide what path you want to take.
Dentistry is a very rewarding field of medicine to get into both personally and professionally. If you want a career for life, as well as a good salary, then it’s well worth considering. Before you can become a dentist, you are going to need a degree from college. Consider the points outlined here before applying for one.