Which dental schools offer a lot of clinical opportunity?

This is a very difficult question to answer. Mainly because there are 65 (and growing) schools in North America. This is something you will have to research on your own, however here are a few tips:

  1. Dental school is meant to provide clinical opportunities. All dental schools provide students with at least 2 years of clinical exposure. You can get an idea of a dental school’s clinical expectations by looking into their specific requirements.
    1. For example, most schools have a set number of each procedure you must complete to pass. The required number of procedures is a good indication of how much exposure a dental school expects from their students or the availability of patients for certain procedures.
    2. Please note that several schools are starting a proficiency based curriculum that allow you to “test out” of a procedure instead of completing the minimum requirement.
    3. Location can have a great influence on the number of patients that have access to the school clinic or the type of procedures being performed (i.e. dentures).
    4. You can try contacting the school for specifics on the requirements but a good idea is to reach out to the students. Most schools now have pre-dental outreach organizations that would be more than happy to answer these sort of questions!
  2. Utilize the network of dentists you have been building since deciding to pursue a career in dentistry. Ask them if they see a different caliber of clinicians coming from any specific schools.
  3. Generally, the less specialties a school offers, the more exposure dental students will have to more advanced cases.
  4. Take advantage of the free time you have as a pre-dental student and pick up a hobby involving fine motor skills. Enhancing your skills early, with any sort of activity, will help you breeze through many of the manual dexterity development projects during the first two years of dental school. This introduces the potential to allow you to focus on more advanced techniques while your classmates are still building up the basic fine motor skills.
  5. Any dental school has the potential to make you into an excellent clinician. Schools go through a seven year accreditation process that ensure the quality of the education is up to the ADA/ADEA’s standards.

In 2010, the ADA released an extremely comprehensive survey breaking down each schools clinical hours by area of focus. Please remember quality over quantity. More hours does not necessarily tell you a school puts out better clinicians. This resource can help you determine what areas a school puts more attention toward.

By Elias Almaz

I am a dentist in Sacramento, CA. During undergrad, I served as the President of my local Pre-Dental Society and learned the intricacies of the dental admissions process. PreDents.com documents much of what I learned during that time.