Dental school is not easy — and neither is getting into one. It requires hard work as well as smart work. I started applying to dental schools for International Dentist Pathway programs in September 2017. Soon, I realized how my ignorance of the process impacted my first Centralized Application for Advanced Placement for International Dentists (CAAPID) cycle. During my second and last application cycle, I was better prepared, which earned me multiple interviews and acceptances.
So you are a foreign-trained dentist who completed your Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE) evaluation, received your DENTPIN, passed NBDE parts I and II, got a 100-plus score in TOEFL, and now you think you are all set for CAAPID. Before this part of the process, though, you need to get dental experience in the United States.
Being a resident has its highs and lows. I love being a resident — so much so, I became a pediatric dental resident after completing a one-year GPR. Completing a residency allows you to grow clinically, improve clinical thinking skills, and further develop critical interprofessional and communication skills. However, it isn’t for everyone.
Think back to your personal statement for dental school. What did you say in it? My bet is that you mentioned something about your desire to help people. About how you knew a dentist somewhere who helped someone in a way that only a dentist could. About how that experience planted in you a desire to do the same thing. That one day, you hoped to be a dentist who not only did that for every one of your patients but also for the world! OK, so maybe you said it with more tact or with less drama, but I have read enough prospective student personal statements to know that a good number of applicants include that to some extent. Now imagine if that dream came true.
I considered writing this post about obtaining the ideal associateship. I quickly realized, though, that “ideal” is misleading and different for everyone. Our goal should be a successful associateship — one that creates success for both the associate and the practice. This looks different across the board, but in my experience in several different environments, the following have been keys to success — or causes of failure.
You think you are finished. After surviving your classes and practicals and passing boards, you prepare for graduation and then you realize you have yet to figure out what exactly you’re supposed to do next. That was me in summer 2016. I had been so consumed with my school work and extracurricular activities that I neglected the reason why I came to school — to get a job.
Many dental professionals are drawn to a career in education. Some of the benefits are obvious: You get to give back to the profession by passing on your knowledge; you gain prestige from your participation in an academic program; and you can depend on a stable (though low!) income. In addition to those, there are other, more unexpected benefits that come with a career in dental education.