If you’re planning to go to dental school, you may want to think about the amount of time you are going to spend in training. This is true for any medical profession.
The way that dental school works is that you start by working your way through a 4 year program similar to medical school. The first year and into the second is focused on heavy course work that will require you to spend a great deal of time in the classroom.
You should think about whether you want to work in a practice or a hospital. I was fortunate to find a dentist in the ann arbor area of michigan that allowed me to jump right into the practice scene.
The first year will be a rude awakening for many of you who are not used to working hard and spending long hours in the library. You can end up taking nearly 100 credit hours during your first year of schools.
The second year is much the same. However, there is a fairly large increase in the amount of lab work you will be doing. This is most often described as the hardest year of dental school. You will be taking a large number of classes that are heavily science and medically oriented. Classes like microbiology and pathology will test your ability to remember complex concepts while also balancing the numerous other responsibilities you have.
Between your second and third years you will end up taking the national boards. The boards basically test you on knowledge that you learned during your first two years. You will spend quite a bit of time studying for this exam which can be a major pain in the jaw…get it!?
The third year is probably the best for most students. The reason for that is that you get to actually work with patients on a regular basis. Some schools have programs that allow students to act as dentists for locals in whatever city the schools is located in. The amount of time spent in class will go down quite a bit during this year. It will be a great break from the monotony and boredom of lectures.
Most of your fourth year will be spent treating patients and finishing out clinical requirements. This can take up a great deal of your time, but at least you won’t be spending much time in the classroom.
You’ll need to keep in mind the financial requirements for dental school. You’ll be there for 4 years, so make sure that you can get by for that long without much of an income.