Hear from Practitioners

Writing a Personal Statement

Posted by Larry G. Dunham, D.M.D., FACD, FICD on May 26, 2022

Applicants should use the personal statement as an opportunity to honestly reflect on dentistry as a career choice. Consider these questions when writing your statement. Is your background in the biological sciences strong enough, regardless of your overall grade point average? Do you think you will be positively stimulated by the stress of dental school, or will you be distressed?

Reviewing your personal and professional history and relating it to your present situation while projecting your personal vision of the future will help to provide a full perspective of your journey. At the same time, gathering information from others who have gone through the process can be helpful, but I advise against looking for a template to follow.   

A personal statement that clearly and briefly covers the following three areas will likely meet your needs:  

  1. Include an introduction with some personal background about what led you to choose dentistry; pointing out how you are personally driven from the inside-out is important. External support through mentorship is critical but cannot be your driving force. 
  2. Demonstrate your understanding of the profession and its relationship to overall health care. Public health, dentistry and medicine are intersecting disciplines that must be integrated in your learning if you are to be become an optimal provider. Any work experiences or personal vision relating to this understanding can be helpful. 
  3. Provide an expression of your openness and adaptability. Allow space to express your uniqueness.  

In addition, experiences, hobbies and extracurricular activities that demonstrate your professional and personal balance are useful to evaluators. You can show how you will apply your personal and academic skills to the profession of dentistry. A well written personal statement is an asset to your application. 

Enjoy the journey!


View the personal statement section on ADEA GoDental to gain more tips.

About Larry G. Dunham, D.M.D., FACD, FICD:

Larry Dunham, D.M.D._headshot

Larry G. Dunham, D.M.D., FACD, FICD
Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging (DEIB) 
Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine

Dr. Dunham is Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging (DEIB) at Boston University’s Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM). His quiet competence, humility and sincerity in supporting others has garnered the admiration and respect of students, faculty and staff at GSDM. 

He received a D.M.D. from GSDM in 1983. Prior to returning to the GSDM community, Dr. Dunham had a lengthy clinical career in his Cambridge, MA, private practice. Additionally, Dr. Dunham also found time to serve in leadership roles for the National Dental Association and he travel to Haiti and Honduras as a volunteer dentist.