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How to Approach a Dentist for a Shadowing Request via Cold Call or In-person

Posted by Sharda Patel, D.D.S. on November 17, 2022

Acquiring opportunities to shadow a dentist still seems to be a popular subject of little knowledge among dental students although it is considered the most valuable experience for aspiring dentists during their high school and or undergraduate years.

The process of searching for and setting up a dental shadowing experiences can be a daunting task. It can be more complicated than the actual shadowing experience, which often overwhelms many predental students. Most challenges occur when they are unaware of where to start, how to approach the dentist for a shadowing request or they encounter other roadblocks.

We'll go over the best procedures for requesting a shadow opportunity in this article, along with an example to help get you started.


Let’s begin!


Note: Ensure that you go through your institution's shadowing policy before you apply for a shadowing request. Once you are done making a list of the professionals you wish to shadow, it's time to contact those dentists. Here are some of the best ways to reach out to them.


The Approach

Should I email? Should I show up in-person or make a phone call?  

The way each dentist would like to be approached varies. So, I have elaborated on every possible way to help you choose the approach you are most comfortable with.


1)   Emailing the dentist. The most professional approach is to email the dentist with your request to shadow. Here are some strategies for succeeding:

  • Introduce yourself by stating your name, the name of your school and the course of study (major) you are presently pursuing. (Especially bring up your university if the dentist you are approaching for a shadow request has also graduated from the same school. It creates an unsaid connection, which will make it more difficult to deny your request.)
  • Lay down an outline of your career goals and how you came to know about the dentist.
  • Write down why you chose them for shadowing and what you hope to gain from the experience.
  • Send a direct request for job shadowing to the dentist's scheduling contact.
  • Attach an updated CV or resume with the email.

Here’s an example:


Dear Dr. Calli,

I hope this email finds you well. I have recently started college at Arizona University. I am majoring in dentistry. 

I am hoping to learn more about the day-to-day activities of being a dentist and thus looking to arrange some shadowing opportunities. So, I was wondering if you would be open to me spending some time with you at your practice over my summer, spring or winter break. I would be grateful for your time and guidance.


Please let me know if you are open to my request so that we can discuss the convenient dates over email or phone. Thank you for taking out time from your busy schedule in reviewing this message.


Many thanks and my best regards,


Erica Hathway



2)   Asking in-person. Showing up in-person at the dentist’s office showcases your commitment and dedication to your shadowing request. You can have a conversation and clear up any lingering confusion about the shadowing process with the dentist.

It makes a lasting impression on the dentist. However, you need to make sure that you are not visiting the dentist during peak hours. You can set up an appointment beforehand, dress in semi-formal clothes and bring your most recent résumé with you.

It could be more difficult for the dentist to refuse your request if you asked in-person. So, if you are confident enough to charm the dentist with your commitment, this option is a good choice for you.


3)   Cold calling the dentist’s office. Connecting with the dental office over the phone may come as a challenging task. If you believe that you will be able to speak to the dentist directly, consider it as a possibility in a parallel universe; you will have to deal with the receptionist first. Start with a generic greeting and clarify the fact that you are not calling to set up a dental appointment. Next, ask the receptionist if the dentist on site is interested in taking free, dental student shadowing requests.

If yes, share your resume and ask for an estimated date on which you can follow-up.


Note: This shadowing request option should be the last option on your list.


Final Thoughts 

Job shadowing is an incredible opportunity to discover what your dream career holds and how you can climb that ladder in your career. The opportunity lets you witness procedures from oral health check-up to tooth extractions and/or anything in between. If things go well, you can also earn certificates of completion that you can compile in your extracurricular hours.


Have a happy dental shadowing experience!

About Sharda Patel, D.D.S.:

Sharda Patel D.D.S._Headshot

Sharda Patel, D.D.S.
Dental Oasis Family Dentistry

Dr. Patel runs Dental Oasis Family Dentistry in Pleasanton, CA. She is a graduate of the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. She is a member of the American Dental Association, California Dental Association and ADEA. She is thorough, caring and dedicated to patient satisfaction and comfort. You may find her reading a paperback on weekends.