Many people find dentistry to be a rewarding career path. Dentists serve to maintain their patients oral health, which includes providing medical advice, cleaning teeth, filling cavities, and performing oral surgery. Dental training consists of a four year undergraduate degree followed by a two to three year orthodontic degree. Some undergraduate students participate in dental internships to gain work experience and improve their dental school applications.
Undergraduate dental internships can be local or international. In order to apply for these programs, students should have very good grades in a pre-dental university track. Duties of a students participating in dental internships include preparing equipment and supplies, mixing materials, interacting with patients, doing basic medical procedures, and assisting doctors with more complex procedures. Local internships may be paid or unpaid, and paid positions generally go to students with more experience or who can commit more time. Local dental internships generally require participants to work at least eight hours per week.
Office jobs are also a common option for undergraduate interns. Although these positions offer less medical interaction with patients, they help interns understand the business side of running a dental office while providing exposure to various orthodontic procedures. Typical responsibilities for office-based dental internships include data entry, billing, customer service, scheduling appointments, and resolving patient insurance issues.
Another option for undergraduate pre-dental students is participating in international dental internships. These programs largely take place in rural areas of countries that lack advanced medical systems. International participants will have a much more involved role in patient care than students participating in local internships due to the limited number of dentists in the locations they serve. Students who plan to live abroad after graduation often find these types of internships to be particularly useful experiences.
International internships are generally unpaid, and participants may incur some or all of the travel costs. Most organizers and participants consider these programs as a combination of volunteer work and education. Programs can last one to three months. Some programs offer additional benefits, such as language training or cultural experiences.
Residency programs can be an option for those who have already completed dental school but want additional experience to improve their resumes. Residents are expected to work full time and generally rotate through several different specialized facilities or through a variety of practices. Residency programs are offered by hospitals and larger private practices, help dentists get the necessary hands on experience to practice themselves, and are required for professional licensing in some areas.