Dental schools advise that you get work experience within the dental profession before applying, as it is a great way for you to determine if dentistry is the profession for you. However, they also understand that it can be difficult to obtain a large amount of experience. Describing a short amount of invaluable experience at a practice that really influenced you can be as beneficial as weeks and weeks of experience elsewhere.
The experience and new skills that you gain during work exprience give you something to talk about in your personal statement and interview. It is better to explain what you learnt whilst on work experience than to simply list the experiences that you've had, as you want to really capture the attention of the admissions panel. It may be a good idea to write things down in a journal as you go, so that you remember the best things you learnt when it comes to writing your application.
TIP : Be sure to pay attention to
1. How the dentist interacts with patients
2. The different roles within a dental practice besides the dentist eg. the dental nurse, dental hygienist, the receptionist
3. Examples of teamwork between the different members of the dental team
4. Anything that really captivates or interests you - and remember to ask lots of questions to learn as much as possible!
TIP : Where to look for experience
If you're unsure of where to start looking to gain work experience try:
1. Asking your own dentist if you can shadow them or spend a couple hours helping out in their practice
2. Ringing your nearest dental school as they may have some contacts
3. Asking your family and friends if they have any contacts
4. Contacting other practices in your area or your local hospital trust to see whether dental hospital experience is available
Being a volunteer can be one of the most rewarding things you may ever do! It can also add to your application and really help you to stand out. The skills and qualities that you gain as a volunteer, such as communication, teamwork and compassion, will be beneficial to you as a future healthcare professional. Adding volunteer work to your application will show universities that you are committed to help those who truly need it, which is a key attribute of any healthcare professional.
TIP: How can I volunteer?
There are many places you can choose from to start volunteering. Just to give you a headstart...
1. You can join a volunteer club at your secondary school
2. Become a mentor for a younger student at your school
2. Sign up to work in a care home
3. Visit an orphanage or choose an evening to work in a youth centre
4. Search the internet for volunteering opportunities in your area