How To Become A Dentist
Choosing a career path is one of the most important decisions a person must make in their lifetime. This decision will define how a person spends the better part of their life. Every career takes a great deal of time and effort. A degree is often necessary not to mention specialized schooling, on the job training, internships, and various tests and licensing. If a particular career path is your dream, all of the long hours and student loans will be well worth it. The medical field is a popular career path, but there are many different specialties within the medical field to choose from. Each specialty will require its own degrees and training. The first thing you will need to determine si what specialty you are interested in. For some people this is an easy choice as they have known from the beginning exactly what they want to do with their life. For others, this choice is not so simple. Regardless, one popular specialty is dentistry. Becoming a dentist takes time and effort that may not be necessary with a different career path, but the same can b e said of any medical related profession. Here, you will find all of the information you need to get you started on the path to becoming a dentist.
Before committing to the long and intense process of becoming a dentist, it is wise to do your research about the profession. There are many details that will be deciding factors for many people. This often includes salary range, desire, years required in schooling, and many other things. Each person will have very specific things that will help them decide whether or not this is the path they want to remain on. The best thing to do is spend some time researching. To find all of the information you are looking for, you will need to use very specific keywords. For example, if you are looking for information on salary ranges or demand in a specific area, you will want to search within that given area. An example of a search like this would be “dentists in Arlington, Virginia“. This will give an example of how many dentists are all ready in the area. You will also be able to get an idea of average fees which will help you determine an average salary. You can also search for the average dentists salary in a given area. You can customize your search to find whatever information you need.
The first step to becoming a dentist is to receive a bachelor’s degree in a related field. There are several options to choose from, depending on your preference. If you are not completely certain that dentistry is the path you want, it is best to choose a degree that will work for dental school as well as other potential careers. Some degree options include biological sciences and biomedical sciences. Both of these are excellent starting points to becoming a dentist, but could also be used for other careers. Other options include chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, biomedical engineering, and physiological sciences. All of these are four year degrees which are offered at most universities and many colleges. Some dental schools will accept a three year pre-dental program, but to be on the safe side, it is best to go with a four year degree.
During your junior year of college, you will need to take the first exam of many that you will take during the process of becoming a dentist. This exam is called the dental admission test or DAT. This test is administered by the American Dental Association. This is a fairly long testing process as it consists of four parts. Each section is a multiple choice test and each section covers a different topic. These topics are reading comprehension, natural sciences, perceptual ability, and quantitative reasoning. Passing this exam is crucial to continuing on your journey to becoming a dentist. You will need to find a testing site in or near your location. Your advisor should have the information that you need to find a site and get you set up to take the exam. If they do not have the information readily available, they will be able to acquire it fairly easily. Each area will have its own schedule and location for this exam. Larger areas such as Las Vegas will likely have several locations whereas smaller areas such as Kansas city will only have one. There will also be some instances where you will have to travel to a neighboring town for the exam.
After taking and passing your DAT exam, you will need to apply for dental school. There are many excellent programs at schools all over. You will have to determine which school is your top choice and which ones you will choose as safety schools. You should have at least four back up schools so that you will have options should you not be able to attend your first choice. During the application process you will need to decide if you plan on obtaining a doctor of Dental surgery or Doctor of Dental medicine also called DDS and DDM respectively. Both of these degrees are recognized by state licensing boards, so it is really all about personal preference. It is also quite common for dental schools offer dual degree programs that combine both DDM and DDS programs with other MBA or Doctoral degrees. This would allow you to earn two degrees in one fell swoop.
Finally, after completing your education, you will need to pass the National Board Dental examination as well as state specific licensing exams. The NBDE focuses on basic sciences and is a pass/fail examination. This is different than percentage based tests. Again, there will be specific procedures and locations to take the NBDE, you will have to find out the details for your location. Each state has different rules and regulations when it comes to state licensing requirements. Some states do not require any additional licensing while others have incredibly strict requirements. It is best to seek out this information prior to graduating so that you will be prepared.