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Dental School Preparation - Experience

It is important you have an understanding of the dental field through experiences you have gained in student groups, volunteering or work experience. Like many other graduate and professional programs, dental schools like to admit applicants who are well-rounded. In general, a well rounded applicant will have a solid GPA and DAT score, and have participated in and made significant contributions in their extracurricular activities such as a student organization, volunteering in a dental office, research, etc.

Admissions committees expect you to have researched the dental profession and know some of the issues dentists currently face. Additionally, the admissions committee will want to know specifically why you are pursuing a career in the dental profession.  Students are encouraged to do one or more of the following to gain exposure to dental and the healthcare field.

  1. Conduct an informational interview, shadow, or observe a dentist.
    1. Apply for an Externship with a Cal Alum during Winter Break through the Career Center’s Externship program.
    2. Search for dentists through dental related Professional Organizations such as the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) and the American Dental Association (ADA).
    3. Become involved in the Pre-Dental Society on-campus
  2. Find healthcare related volunteer opportunities:
    1. Health & Medicine Volunteer Opportunities
    2. Tang Center
  3. Find a healthcare related Internship
    1. Internship Opportunities in Health & Medicine
    2. Look for a summer program like the Summer Health Professions Education Program.  Though not technically a volunteer experience, SHPEP are programs that focus on helping Freshmen and Sophomores who are interested in applying to medical or dental school. SHPEP are six-week intensive summer programs that provide participants the opportunity to learn more about these two careers, attend learning-skills seminars, have limited clinical exposure experiences, and gain a better understanding of each field.
    3. Explore health-related programs abroad.
    4. Health & Medicine Job Opportunities

Getting exposure to the dental profession can make you a competitive applicant and help you to begin to identify what skills, values, and interests you enjoy in this profession.


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