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Stand In Someone Else's Shadow

Shadowing is perhaps the most valuable resource for students in the health fields. The knowledge and exposure you gain cannot be found in a library nor read in a book. Most educators agree that the most valuable tool for learning, in all aspects of life, is experience. Working in a professional environment, with a practiced dentist, can literally bring what you learn in the classroom to life, replacing slides and videos with real life situations.

As a shadow you don't merely follow a dentist around. You could potentially sit in on patients, watch procedures, or even assist in surgeries. Keep in mind that someone who has gone through what you are will is an invaluable resource.

Don't just watch... ask questions, keep notes, and take advantage of every opportunity available in order to understand all facets of the profession, from client billing to cavity filling. A clearer understanding of where you are headed may provide further motivation to achieve your goals.

Dental schools recognize the value of hands-on experience. For this reason, many of them require that you complete a certain number of hours of shadowing prior to application. So, not only is shadowing recommended, it is often mandatory. In order to find a professional to shadow you can contact:

  • your local dentist or specialist (orthodontist, pediatric dentist, etc.)
  • your pre-health advisor (or general advisor if you don't have one)
  • your school's pre-dental society (if you have one)
  • the career services center at your school
  • nearby dental schools
  • the American Dental Association's website for local organizations

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