Applying to residency is a daunting experience, like applying to dental school all over again. You’re stuck wondering if you’ll get accepted, what you’ll do if you aren’t accepted and what the requirements are for each program that you’re planning on applying to include. In trying to keep track of all of these different applications and requirements, it’s super easy to get overwhelmed or bogged down.
“Don’t be surprised if you don’t get in this year,” the endodontic resident told me during my one-day externship. This was not the first time I’d heard this during the application process. This sentiment came from endodontic residents, faculty members and program directors — and for a relatively good reason.
My four years of dental school flew by. When I was trying to survive dental school, it seemed long and arduous — unending. However, when I stood on the stage to receive my doctoral hooding earlier this year, I couldn’t believe how fast those years came and went. It seemed like just yesterday I started my dental school journey and looking back on it now as a prosthodontics resident, I realize there are a few things I learned throughout the process.
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.
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.
As an ADA Success program speaker, I am always honored to speak to dental students from across the country on topics such as practice management, leadership and ethics, and the state of the dental profession. No matter what topic I speak on, however, I am always questioned about something that I mention in my introduction: I am a general dentist who limits my practice of dentistry to treating pediatric patients.
If you are considering pursuing a residency after dental school, you may feel overwhelmed by the options. Residency programs are small, and reliable information can be hard to find. Every one will have its own unique advantages and drawbacks, and it will be up to you to network and find information on the individual programs that interest you. I am currently halfway through my 12-month AEGD residency at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System in San Antonio, Texas.