Are you considering becoming a dentist but want to know more about what it takes? How much school is involved? Do you need more than a four-year degree? These are very important questions to ask when considering a career in dentistry. Whether you are just starting out or have completed several courses already, this article will provide a basic overview of what it takes to become a dentist in 2021.
KNOW YOUR WHY
Before starting any endeavor, it’s wise to consider the “why” behind your wanting to do something. This is especially the case with dentistry because it is a rewarding career as well as a demanding one. Consider what draws you to the dental field. Are you interested in how dentistry works? The desire to help people improve their oral health? Maybe you come from a family of dental practitioners and you feel this is expected of you. Whatever the reason, by addressing these questions, you can be prepared for the hours of training ahead with purpose, which can make all of the difference in the long run.
UNDERSTAND THE COST
If you want to pursue a career in dentistry, it’s important to understand the cost. Dental school is a financial and time investment, although, for many aspiring dentists, the benefits outweigh the cost. It is helpful to consider how you plan on paying for school beforehand, for example, and to keep in mind the amount of time that will be required of you. While you most likely are aware of this, understanding the financial, emotional, and mental investment ahead of time often means you are more prepared to tackle setbacks along the way.
EDUCATION AND TESTING
In terms of actual timing, it takes most aspiring dentists about four to eight years of school before joining a practice or starting their own. Most dental schools require several prerequisites, including college biology, physics, and chemistry, before applying for a spot. After you have completed these prerequisites, the next step is to take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). The majority of candidates take the DAT about a year before they plan on enrolling in a dental school program. After the admissions test itself, you complete the application, which can also include interviews, personal recommendations, and academic evaluations from your GPA and DAT results. Once you are accepted to dental school, the majority of programs take about four years to complete. However, if you are interested in a more specialized field like dental surgery, for example, expect several years of schooling following the initial four years. Each state has specific licensure requirements as well. Review the Massachusetts requirements for dental licensure here.
While the path to becoming a dentist takes time, money, and energy, it is a highly rewarding and fulfilling career. To learn more about the steps to becoming a dentist, your career options, and everything in between, contact Dr. Coughlin at email@example.com.