Shadowing Tips | TTB
Now that you’re ready to learn about dentistry, it’s time to shadow dentists. But where to start?
How to find a dentist to shadow
• Start by reaching out to your personal dentist or friends/family. If they say no, politely ask if they can recommend another doctor
• Another way to find doctors is to cold call local practices. Although it may seem intimidating at first, it’s one of the best ways to practice your communication skills, which will prove to be useful in the future.
- Start by introducing yourself (does not have to be long, but it’s best to give them a brief overview of who you are) and politely inquire whether you may shadow there. If they cannot get back to you immediately, make sure to provide a phone number and email that they can reach you by.
- The best way to ask about shadowing is going to the office in person. However, due to the pandemic, it is safer to call or email for now.
- Tip! Some offices may ask for your resume, so it’s always safe to have one in handy just in case they ask for it.
Once you find a doctor to shadow, make sure you are punctual and mindful of the practice’s policies. Scrubs (generally preferred) or professional attire is usually recommended when shadowing in the office. As a shadower in the office, you now have the freedom to observe the procedures and ask questions. To give you an idea, here are some questions you can ask the dentist you are shadowing:
• What do you find most fulfilling in your profession?
• Why did you choose to pursue dentistry?
• Is there anything you wish you would have done as a pre-dental?
• What are some of the main differences between dental school and actually working as a dentist?
• What are some of the most important qualities a dentist should have?
• How do you balance work and family life?
Tips for shadowing
• If you have any questions about the procedures you see, don’t be afraid to ask about it! However, it’s generally a good idea to wait till the doctor is finished meeting with the patient to ask these questions.
• The dental assistants, hygienists, and front office receptionists are all important members of the team, and you can learn a great deal from them as well. Ask them questions too! Being a dentist takes great responsibility, and it is essential to know the ins and outs of all aspects of the field.
• Try shadowing multiple offices and specialties if you can!
- Most schools ask for letters of recommendation from a general dentist, so make sure to keep this in mind when looking for opportunities
Due to the pandemic, shadowing opportunities have become harder to find. However, there are multiple other resources you can use to obtain shadowing hours while also learning about the field. Instagram accounts such as @smileshadowers, @dentalshadowers, and @predentaluniverse, provide pre-dentals the chance to learn about dentistry from dentists virtually. It’s important to note that not all schools will accept virtual shadowing hours. Nonetheless, it is still a great learning experience that will give you a head start in the dental field.
Although shadowing may seem daunting at first, it will be one of the most meaningful experiences you will have as a pre-dental. Make the most of it, and most importantly, have fun!
Written by: Julia Noguchi