Dentistry Work Experience

Undertaking clinical and voluntary work experience is important to help you ensure life as a dentist is right for you but it is also a perquisite for your application to dental school. 2 weeks in a dental practice is the minimum amount recommended but further experience of different dental fields will greatly increase your chances and give you plenty to talk about at interview.

General Dental Practice Understanding basic dental work in an NHS practice is essential. Further experience in a private practice is recommended.

Increasing numbers of specialised practices in areas such as orthodontics, periodontics and prosthodontics are arising and worth investigating.

Hospital Dentistry Whether observing extractions or maxillofacial surgery, it's very useful to see dentists at work in a hospital setting.

Dental Laboratory Gaining an insight into the production of bridges, crowns and dentures which you have seen applied by dentists adds a depth to your understanding of the dental profession and may provide you with a chance to do some hands on work to test your dexterity.

Care Home or Hospice Talking with residents, making tea and helping staff are a few ways you can volunteer. Volunteering is best done regularly over a period of months.

Volunteering Websites These can help you to find volunteering opportunities in your local area.
What to Take from Work Experience
Read Up Before Understanding how a dental practice works and who is who in the practice will allow you to hit the ground running on your first day.
Ask Questions Talking to the various staff is a great way to gain insight into life as a dentist and will give you an appreciation of the roles of the wider dental team.
Reflect Keeping a diary or writing down your experiences will help you pick the most interesting ones to write about and talk about in your personal statement and interview respectively.
Revisit It's difficult to take in everything in your first few days or week and you may only think of relevant questions after you've had time to reflect and gain a better understanding of dentistry over time. Don't be afraid to contact the person you've shadowed to ask questions or arrange more experience.

Other Experience
Whilst direct work experience is essential and should be your focus, it can also be useful to gain an understanding of the course and profession through other means and will increase the range of information you can draw from for your personal statement and at interview:

Current Students Talking to those currently studying dentistry at university at open days or through friends and family is a great way to learn more about the course and pick up tips for the admissions process.
Books Nobody will expect you to have memorised Gray's Anatomy but books about the history of dentistry or any relevant scientific books can provide invaluable extra knowledge.
Dental Magazines & Websites Particularly important are the GDC and BDA websites for keeping up to date with current issues in dentistry and it is vital you start checking these regularly if you're invited for interview. Most dentists will have a subscription to a number of dental magazines and borrowing and flicking through them and can help you pick up useful info.
University Websites Be sure to have a good luck through course details which can differ greatly between universities. There may also be research articles on the websites of the dental schools.
The News Along with articles from university and dental websites, it's good to keep an eye out for any dental issues or research reported on news websites and in papers.

Extra Curricular Activities

Together with achieving the academic requirements and undertaking work experience having interests outside of dentistry is important. Dentists need to know how to relax and interests and hobbies can help demonstrate the qualities required of a dentist in your personal statement and at interview.
Team Sports Playing for a team demonstrates communication, teamwork and leadership skills.
Individual Sports Solo sports such as running or athletics require determination and focussed training.
Music Playing an instrument, achieving grades or playing in a band or orchestra show determination and dexterity.
Art Painting, crafting or creating any form of art is a great way to demonstrate your manual skills and creativity.
Duke of Edinburgh This popular award shows active involvement in the community.
Other Hobbies If you have pursued anything to a high level such as learning to fly, learning a second language or developing a particular skill make sure you think about how it relates to the qualities of a dentist.