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Get acquainted with the dental profession
The American Dental Education Association's GoDental website is set up to introduce undergraduate students to dentistry and dental hygiene. This site will introduce you to the profession, specialties within the field, U.S. dental schools, ways to finance your education, and current issues and trends in the field of dentistry.
Bookmark this page in your browser and don't miss the link at the bottom to sign up for the free ADEA newsletter.
To get up-to-date news delivered in your Facebook news feed, LIKE the ADEA GoDental Facebook page.
Learn more about new developments in technology and dental subfields via this free webinar presented by the American Student Dental Association and catch more live and archived presentations from ASDA on their webinar page. Some webinars are publicly available; others are only available to ASDA members. If you would like to join ASDA (and you should!), get in touch with our on-campus pre-dental student organization, the Oral Health Student Association.
Schedule a meeting with your pre-dental counselor
Your pre-dental advisor will talk with you each semester to talk about classes, getting involved on campus, and preparing for application to dental school.
Call the Office of Medical Professions Advisement at 423.439.5602 to schedule a meeting so that we can get acquainted.
Between now and your meeting, read through the rest of the content in this "Explore Dentistry" section and visit the "How to prepare for your advisement meeting" link at the bottom of this page to print out the advisement form that you will bring with you to our first meeting.
It is important that you come to your advisement sessions prepared so that we can make the most of our time together. If you have a particular major in mind, try to meet with your major advisor before your pre-dental meeting.
Consider majors and minors
Dental schools expect students to have a strong interest in the sciences and mathematics and to perform well in these classes. A competitive applicant will be academically strong all around, with high grades in the social sciences, English, and even in the humanities.
You are not required to major in a science to be a competitive applicant for dental school, which means that you have several options open to you.
You can find all of the major and minor programs offered at ETSU in our undergraduate catalog. Peruse this list and consider a few possible majors (and maybe even minors) for us to discuss during our advisement meeting. For suggestions to get you started, you can peek ahead to the next page of this guide.
Connect with professional and educational associations
One of the best ways to stay informed of news, events, internships, and leadership opportunities in the dental field is to check in regularly with professional associations.
I've already mentioned the ADEA GoDental site and Facebook page. Here are a few others that you should consider adding to your news feed to have information delivered right to you.
The Student Doctor Network
This site features content for pre-professional students in general and for aspiring dentists specifically. Visit the Articles tab and use the filter to pull out articles related to dentistry (and more broadly to healthcare in general). Topics range from study skills to personal wellness, from financial issues to keeping your relationships with friends and family strong while in school. This site also publishes interviews with professionals in various fields, including dentists.
These videos are another great way to stay current on issues and innovations in health and medicine. Set a goal of watching at least one of these 15 minute talks per week.
To get you started, here's one of my favorites:
Learn the basics of becoming a competitive, well-prepared applicant for dental school
As you have already learned during one of our many MPA information sessions at open house and orientation, admission to professional school is a holistic process. You will be evaluated not only on your performance in your pre-dental (and other) coursework, but also on your leadership skills and experience, your extracurricular involvement, your commitment to community service, your knowledge of and exposure to the field of dentistry, and other personal characteristics and traits like maturity, accountability, resilience, and compassion.
Developing a strong rapport and a good working relationship with faculty, advisors, dentists you shadow, volunteer coordinators, and other potential mentors is crucial. These people may potentially write letters of recommendation for you, refer you to internships, research opportunities, and/or shadowing and volunteer work, and keep you apprised of special topics courses and other opportunities that will help you along the path to dental school.
Applicants to dental school typically take these science courses as part of their pre-dental core:
Introductory biology: BIOL 1110/1111 and BIOL 1120/1121
General chemistry: CHEM 1110/1111 and CHEM 1120/1121
Organic chemistry: CHEM 2010/2011 and CHEM 2020/2021
Physics: PHYS 2010/2011 and PHYS 2020/2021
and may also include some combination of these upper-division classes:
Cell biology: BIOL 3150/3151
Biochemistry: BIOL 4147/4157 and/or BIOL 4167/4177
Microbiology: HSCI 3320/3321
Human anatomy and/or human physiology: HSCI 3000 / HSCI 3020
You can expect to take additional classes in communication (ENGL 1010, ENGL 1020, SPCH), mathematics (statistics and calculus), and the social sciences (psychology, sociology, anthropology). Classes that cultivate manual dexterity (such as sculpting, painting, and playing musical instruments) are also encouraged.
Check out specific admissions requirements at nearby dental schools to get an idea of the variation among schools.
UT Health Sciences Center (Memphis, TN)
University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham, AL)
Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA)
UNC Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC)
University of Louisville (Louisville, KY
Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry (Nashville, TN)
University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY)
You can also learn directly from the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) about what dental schools are looking for in applicants.
Then check out this interview with Brian Trecek, Director of Admissions at Marquette University School of Dentistry, courtesy of the Dental Realist Podcast.
Join the Oral Health Student Association
Meet other pre-dental students, find volunteer and shadowing connections, and network with dental students and dentists.
The OHSA meeting schedule and officer contact information is posted the association's home page.
Apply for summer internships and enrichment experiences
Local and national opportunities abound for pre-health and pre-dental students. Application deadlines for these experiences usually fall between November and March, so check in to them early.
Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP)
12 professional schools across the country host college freshmen and sophomores for 6 week programs that include math and science education, clinical experiences, study skills workshop, career development activities, and financial workshops. These programs are free and they are highly selective.
Learn more and apply here.
Oral Health America Summer Internships
This opportunity is a 12-week paid internship in Chicago. Applications are due in the fall semester.
Learn more and apply here.
Tennessee Institutes for Pre-Professionals (TIP)
The University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis hosts two seven-week summer programs who are planning to enter health professions.
Track I is for freshmen and sophomores. It includes clinical observation and personal and
professional development activities and workshops.
Track II is for juniors and seniors. It includes entrance exam preparation both through Kaplan course content review and full-length practice tests.
Learn more and apply here.