Health Professions Advisor Views

The Importance of Building Relationships While Applying to Dental School

Posted by Rhona Beaton on October 19, 2021

Congratulations on deciding to pursue a path in dentistry! Applicants consider a successful application to dental school as their ultimate goal, but please know that your journey to that goal holds many possibilities for learning and growth academically, personally and clinically. Your preparation for dental school will include both individual hard work and building effective relationships with people you meet along your path who will help you and perhaps challenge you to consider yourself and your goals from new perspectives. Who are these people who could help you achieve your goals and dreams?

Prehealth Advisors

Whether you are an undergraduate student or someone who has made the decision to pursue a career in dentistry later, finding a prehealth advisor is an important first step. Prehealth advisors are well versed in helping students prepare an application to dental school. If you do not have access to a prehealth advisor, check out the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (NAAHP) Student Resources page where NAAHP’s “Find an Advisor” service will match you with a volunteer advisor. There is no cost for this service.

A prehealth advisor reviews the requirements for applying to dental school and helps you create a plan to build your future dental school application. A prehealth advisor is also an excellent resource for discussing how your interests and passions can guide your preparation for dental school in ways that show the schools your motivation and passion for the profession of dentistry. Sometimes, challenges and obstacles come your way during your preparation for dental school, and a prehealth advisor is someone who can help create a plan to address them and keep you moving toward your goals. 


It is also important to establish relationships with your instructional faculty. Reaching out to faculty during office hours is important. Use this time to ask questions about course content. It can also present opportunities to discuss your motivation for dentistry and your future goals. Faculty can offer academic opportunities beyond the classroom; for example, if research is an area of interest for you, faculty can sometimes offer opportunities for participation in their own research or direct you to ongoing research in other labs that interests you.

Community Resources

Local community agency supervisors and practicing dentists can become important mentors for your development as a future dentist. Learning how to work with and care for people from different backgrounds will prepare you for working with patients in your future practice. Additionally, acquiring clinical experience with a variety of dental practitioners will help you understand the practice of dentistry and the roles of the dentist in a local community. Developing effective working relationships with these community and clinical professionals offers you other opportunities for conversations about your future goals and for guidance when challenges arise during your preparation for dental school. 


Final Thoughts

Preparing a successful dental school application is a long process that will challenge you academically and personally. Having a support system of advisors and mentors to help you along this path can keep your motivations and goals clear and help with any challenges or obstacles that may arise. Best wishes on your preparation for a career in dentistry!


About Rhona Beaton :

Rhona Beaton

Rhona Beaton 
Assistant Director of the Health Professions Advising Office 
Union College

Rhona Beaton is the Assistant Director of the Health Professions Advising Office at Union College in Schenectady, NY. She has been advising students for 20 years and has been active in leadership roles in both regional and national professional advising organizations. She currently serves as President-elect for the National Association of Advisors for Health Professions and liaison from that organization to ADEA AADSAS® (ADEA Associated American Dental Schools Application Service).