Guidance counselor visits, trips to the library, and hours of online reading … career-hunting sure is an exciting, fun-filled journey, isn’t it? And, hopefully, your teenager is investing as much time into this activity as you are! If you’re the parent of a teenager contemplating a career in dentistry, now is the perfect time to build your roadmap to this goal. Let us help make sure you’re both on the right path!
As you might expect with any science-based career, planning for college, (and ultimately, the profession) has to start early. Thankfully, kids interested in science often discover their aptitude and interest early on, so most of the preliminary planning unfolds naturally. When high school beckons, though, a little bit more of a proactive approach needs to take place. In other words, it’s time for the checklist.
Here are the five items for you to check off as you prepare for a smooth transition to college.
- Four Years of Math and Science: A good foundation in science and math while in high school helps ease the transition to more advanced concepts while in college. And, since dentistry relies heavily on biology, chemistry and physics, a firm base of knowledge in these areas will help your children understand, apply and communicate these concepts to patients each and every day as a doctor.
- Consider Spanish: Some academic advisors suggest the pursuit of Latin while in high school because of its function in understanding medical terms. This view is somewhat myopic, however, because medicine pulls from both Greek and German as well. When added to Latin’s long-held status as a dead language, it’s easy to see why most professionals instead tend to recommend Spanish for dentists looking to practice in the United States.
- Consider Art and Psychology: Because dentistry is both an art and a science, many practicing dentists put a lot of stock in practicing some sort of hobby that helps develop limber, skillful hands. Anything from painting to building models can help develop the stillness of movement needed in dentistry. And Psychology? Well, who doesn’t love a dentist with good chairside manner? By studying psychology, students can better understand why patients feel, fear and fight the way they do – always a good understanding to possess.
- Find a Mentor: Have your teen call around or drop in to local dental offices to see if there is an opportunity for them to “shadow” a local dentist. This rather old school approach still works (particularly because not many think to do it these days) and they’ll eventually locate a dentist with a penchant for education who will likely take your child up on their offer. Besides learning about the job “on the ground”, having a professional to bounce ideas and questions off is always of great help when investigating any career opportunity.
- Prep for the Tests: No one enjoys taking placement tests. They’re long, full of seemingly arbitrary questions, and play a weighty role in pursuing your chosen profession. To tackle this nemesis smartly, you’ve got to plan ahead – by studying ahead. Because a good score on the ACT or SAT tests will, in part, determine where your child does their undergrad, doing well on these tests is critical. Preparing for those two tests also lays groundwork for excelling at the rather challenging Dental Admission Test – which every aspiring dentist needs to take to get into dental school.