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Career Advice

How to become a dentist

I’m not going to say that if you want to be a dentist, then you’re definitely a bad person. I’m just saying that statistically, you probably are. Not dentistreally; but it is unusual that you hear somebody say “I’ve to go the dentist tomorrow” in a happy-go-lucky tone. We have all the usual complaints. It can be expensive. They demand conversation while you’re trying to drool over yourself. They inject your mouth with sharp pointy things. However the importance of having a good dentist can’t be overstated, and there has been increasing evidence linking good oral health with a healthy heart.

Qualifications (UK)

Unsurprisingly, the qualifications needed to become a dentist are high. 3 A’s at A Level are the norm, followed by a five year course at one of the dental schools around the UK. The competition into these schools is exceptionally high. There are however a few courses which provide a pre-entry course for people who aren’t coming from a science background. After this, graduates are normally expected to complete one or two years of paid vocational training, known as General Professional Training. The Dental Schools Council guidelines for the admission of students provide an interesting indication of how applicants are chosen. “The aim of the admissions procedure is to select those with the greatest aptitude for dental training from those with high academic ability.” That is to say, academic strength is important, but the potential for making a good dentist is even more so. Which leads us nicely to…

Experience

Work experience. As much as you can possibly get. Don’t be afraid to approach more than one surgery; if you can put on your UCAS form that you’ve had months of work experience with a range of practices – both private and national – you’re in a strong position. Many dental schools actually put this as a requirement for entry. Research into the profession is also a big bonus. If you have the time, try to examine particularly contemporary events in the field and develop your understanding of advancements being made – being able to discuss these types of things at an interview will make you a stand out.

Type of Person

At the end of the day, your primary responsibility as a dentist is to care for your patients. As such, you have to be above all else compassionate and professional. As mentioned earlier, very few people actively enjoy going to the dentist and some have a genuine fear of the whole process. The best way to counteract this is with a demeanour that reassures people, while also reminding them of the simple fact that maintaining dental hygiene is incredibly important and that leaving a problem often exacerbates things. Having a ready supply of lollies (loads of sugar, obviously) wouldn’t hurt as well.

How to become a dentist

More than for any other profession we’ve already covered, dentistry is a profession which just requires vast amounts of book reading and learning. High grades and a sound understanding of the industry will see you into a School, where upon completion you’re in with a strong chance of securing a job. If you aren’t accepted straight off for a university course then don’t let it denture (sorry) confidence; keep trying.

Written by Ethan Loughrey

Looking for a job, but not too sure what career path to follow? Check out TheEmployable “How to Become” career directory

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