Are you in your late twenties, thirties or even forties and want to start a dental career? Don’t think it’s a possibility? Despite what you might think, there are options for you to get started in the dental industry if you want to do it. We’ll discuss a few steps you can take to make your dream a reality.
RESEARCH DENTAL CAREERS
Whether you’ve worked in several positions and/or industries up until this point, knowing your career options as a dental professional is an important step. Do you see yourself owning your practice one day? Would you prefer the stability of a salaried position in an established practice? Have you considered a career in the dental research and academic space? What kind of dental career track makes the most sense for your life situation, taking any family or other commitments into consideration? You could even ask a dental school admissions officer some of these questions as part of your research.
TAKE PREREQUISITE COURSES
Dental schools do require basic prerequisites for admission. These typically include about two semester’s worth of classes in biology, general and organic chemistry and physics with a lab component. Some schools may also require additional prerequisite coursework like anatomy. It’s also worth noting that shadowing – where you observe the work and practice of an established dentist – is usually required prior to starting or during your dental school course load.
In terms of where to apply, much of that depends on things like location, clinical specialization preferences, community feel, and more. Are you willing to relocate, or do you prefer to attend somewhere close by? What kind of community and/or curriculum do you want? Do you have an idea of the clinical services you’re most interested in? All of these factors play a role in where you decide to apply.
Finally, the path to a dental career is rigorous and demanding, both in terms of the workload and lifestyle but also on your wallet. If you’re switching to dentistry from another career, you may have had time to grow resources or savings you can tap into. If your current employer allows it, you can ask if they would be willing to reimburse some of your education expenses.
If you need to finance your dental school education, there are several options you can choose from. They include federal loans specifically for the dental industry, institutional loans, and third-party financing alternatives.
For more information on financing dental school, go to the American Dental Education Association.
Thinking about a career change to dentistry? Already in dental school but don’t know which career path to choose? Contact us today and we can help guide you confidently in the right direction.