Jump in! Getting involved in dental school

Aspen: Aspen Dental

Date:November 20, 2017 

Exams and grades will always be priorities in your dental school experience, but it is also important to be involved in your community and in your school.

You have a range of options that include the American Student Dental Association (ASDA), the Hispanic Dental Association (HDA), the American Association of Women Dentists (AAWD) and many, more from which to choose—all are valuable and offer peer networking and outreach activities. These organizations give you a welcome break from your studies and allow you to contribute positively to your future profession, as do your local and state dental associations.

You Belong to a Community

Whether you are the president, social chair, or simply a member, being part of an organization allows you to access and belong to a community within dental school. Meeting people from all different classes will not only expand your horizon of peers, but also introduce you to upper classmen from whom you can learn a great deal. Upper classmen are imperative to the dental school experience so far, and an invaluable benefit of being involved in a student organization. You may benefit from a new connection who will share notes, advice, or extracted teeth with you, or simply offer support during your university training. Who knows what you may need in the future—a patient for an SRP competency, study materials, or help with your GPR application—and this community is a great source of support.

Additionally, most organizations bring in speakers to present on important issues in dentistry. These speakers, ranging from laboratory technicians to local dentists and medical malpractice insurance companies, all have good information to share. Although it may not seem important at the time with the next waxing competency just days away, it will help in the long run.

Deeper Ties

Many of these organizations are deeper than you may first think. Most groups at your school are part of a larger national organization and host annual meetings where you can not only meet more students, but also learn about other schools and the pressing issues in dentistry to which you may not be exposed at your school. These meetings are great for networking and reigniting that spark you had back before you started that physiology course. Being part of an organization with a national component also gives you access to the many benefits of their members from discounted hotels to life insurance and contact information of dentists nationwide within the group.

Leadership Skills

Lastly and possibly most importantly, involving yourself in student organizations develops your leadership skills. The ability to delegate, run meetings, and work with others is extremely important in dentistry, as many of us will be faced with the challenge of running a practice someday. Being responsible for events and other individuals will help you practice for the day that you become the boss and your income and the income of many others depends on your command of the practice and its personnel.

It truly is never too late to get involved. Whether you are a first year just getting your toes wet or a fourth year trying to figure out what to do after graduation, student organizations have something that can benefit you as a dental student and future practitioner.

Crucial Points to Absorb

Expand Your Horizon

Interacting with peers gives you access to fresh perspectives, additional knowledge, and opportunities to contribute in kind.

Find Out What Resources Are Available

Ask for support, and know you’re not supposed to go through dental school alone. A community of future professionals is here to share in the experience.

Say Hello

Go out and explore. Revel in the newness of your time in dental school, and take advantage of your fresh eyes and the opportunity to be the scholar and dentist to which you always aspired.

Attend Events

Meetings at your dental school or on a national level present you with opportunities listen, observe, and interact with aspiring professionals and practicing dentists who can guide your own journey into dentistry.

Get Involved!

Involving yourself in student organizations develops your leadership skills. The ability to delegate, run meetings, and work with others is extremely important in dentistry and your future practice.

Find a mentor

Find one faculty member with whom you can connect and stay in touch during all four years to ask about all things dentistry. It can be a great idea to fall back on a mentor when you feel stuck.

“Organizations give the opportunity to learn skills that aren’t exactly integrated into the curriculum, including leadership experience.”