We'll first dive into some dental school personal statement examples then we'll go over our proven strategies to help you create your own from scratch!
Here's what we're going to show you:
"In the final moments of a key game in a hockey tournament, I jumped over the boards and onto the ice without putting my mouth guard back in place. It was attached to my helmet, but I had a chance for the puck, and I took it. Moments later, an opponent’s stick caught me in the face, knocking out my front tooth. Play stopped, and my team found my tooth on the ice. I looked to the bleachers. My mom was already on the phone getting initial instructions from our dentist for saving the tooth. Within 15 minutes, we were outside the clinic as my dentist unlocked the door, despite it being a Saturday night. As I was treated within half an hour, my tooth could be saved by stabilizing it as it healed. Until that moment, I thought of my dentist as someone I only saw every six months; I hadn’t seen her as a critical part of my healthcare team.
I realized from this experience that time is a factor in dental care, and thus a career in dentistry. My tooth was saved because I lived in an urban centre and had immediate access to care, not to mention the continuity of care I’ve had since I was a child. My mother is employed and has good dental coverage, but this is not the case for many. Without timely check-ups, both oral and medical issues that could be detected and prevented can become more serious conditions.
With this awareness, I have for the last 6 years volunteered in two ways. In the time since my hockey accident, I’ve worked with my dentist on a safety awareness campaign for young hockey players and their families, teaching about the necessity of mouth guards, as well as how a quick response to such injuries may help in recovery. I’ve also worked alongside dentists for the Smiling Children Foundation in vulnerable neighborhoods, where dental neglect is not uncommon, and continuity of care is rare. Recently, we set up a mobile clinic in a school, where I record personal information and take a medical history for each child. A young boy, 10 years old, complained of constant headaches and pain in his body. Upon examination, the dentist noticed his gums were dark purple in places and bled easily. Our team alerted a community doctor of a potential immune disorder, and the young boy was diagnosed and treated, returning to good health within months. That day, I learned that oral healthcare is holistic healthcare, and that it is a privilege to support those who may not have time, resources, or access to oral healthcare.
I have had this privilege in what began as dental shadowing and is now part-time employment, where I liaise between patients and insurance companies, manage team schedules, and comfort anxious patients. This might be as simple as holding a hand while the dentist performs the procedure. Or, I might hold a baby while the father sees the hygienist. I’ve learned to read an X-ray accurately, prepare the instruments needed for a procedure, and balance the books. I have been mentored by both a medical and business professional, and I have borne witness to our patients’ high and low points. I have worked hard to understand what goes into growing and maintaining a successful dental practice and feel capable to meet the challenge of the multiple roles required in this dynamic vocation.
It bears mentioning why my first-year grades are not what I’d hoped they would be. I joined a good number of co-curricular clubs with the intention of participating in our campus community and developing my professional skills. By midterm, I realized I had oversubscribed myself. Unfortunately, willpower and desire were not enough. My grades suffered as I tried to manage my responsibilities. By attending time management seminars and learning to manage time rather than be managed by time, I was able retrieve my grades. From 2nd year forward, I’ve maintained a 4.0 GPA while moving up the ranks of student organizations and taking an active role in a research project. Resilience is like a muscle that needs time, exercise, and perseverance to build.
From a sports accident, to volunteer work in an underserved community, to employment in a dental office and an academic career that shows both mistakes and recovery, I have thought carefully about what dentistry is. A dentist is part of a larger healthcare team, and a dentist can often treat not only a single patient over decades, but provide intergenerational care to a family. I aspire to dentistry to accompany my patients through life, 6 months at a time, offering compassionate, whole-person healthcare." (4497 characters, including spaces)
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"“Ready, Set, Bake,” shouted the host of Bake-Off. I was 16 and a contestant of a televised baking show. Our 6th challenge gave us 3 hours to perfectly bake the most decadent and timing consuming dessert: the mille-feuille – layers of puff pastry, filled with whipped cream and custard, and glazed on top. Despite being the only teenager in a field of contestants ranging from 20-70 years of age, I’d made it through several days of cuts for one of the spots on the show. I wish I could say that my dessert was a masterpiece, but as the timer counted down and I plated it, the filling oozed, and the pastry crumbled. I’d made to the Top Six, but the mille-feuille defeated me and I was asked to hang up my apron. As I reflect on this experience, the solo and team challenges, the practice to get on the show, the mastery needed to gain a top spot, I realize that I’m grateful even for the defeat, because I learned valuable lessons that helped me develop key qualities and skills that are in-line with the core competencies necessary for dentistry, my chosen profession. Both dentistry and competitive baking require innovation and excellence, communication and accountability, and the necessity of precision, focus, and a steady hand.
Both of my parents are dentists. While the influence of their careers on my own access to knowledge cannot be underestimated, I have been deeply cognizant of making an autonomous career decision. That decision is my own, but my parents have admittedly opened unique conversations around ethics, technology, and patient care to me. My earliest memories include attending dental conferences with them and being encouraged to explore the Exhibits Floor, where I learned about the newest dental products and treatments and “test drove” the latest innovations in dentistry. I developed an aptitude for predicting which products and technologies were gimmicks and which would effectively support excellence in patient care. This knack has made me something of an informal consultant for my parents and their colleagues, who value my insights on innovation and efficacy of new treatments.
While technology is at the forefront of change, what remains consistent over time is the importance of communication and accountability to provide excellent patient care. I’ve had the privilege to shadow Dr. Ann Lee, an oral surgeon, over the past 3 years. Among many things, she showed me that inherent in communication is accountability. Many of her patients are children and teens having teeth extracted for orthodontic reasons. The son of a family who had been Dr. Lee’s patients for over a decade arrived for a complicated wisdom tooth extraction. Despite familiarity with the family, the doctor painstakingly reviewed the extraction process to prepare them effectively. The procedure went well in the office; however, on the way home, the boy began haemorrhaging. An artery had been compromised during the surgery. I watched as Dr. Lee packed bone wax around the artery to stem the bleeding. What struck me about this experience was the standard of accountability to which the surgeon held herself, as she communicated with the family by phone, made a house call later that evening on her way home, and remained on-call over the weekend to ensure the safety and healing of the child. The family maintained their trust in Dr. Lee because of her open communication and sense of accountability. I also learned just how fragile and technical dental work is, requiring both dexterity and precision.
Volunteering in a dental brigade in Haiti, Mirlande, 6, taught me about vulnerability and trust. Mirlande was scared and reluctant to open her mouth for her first dental exam. I took her aside and, as she watched, I carved a perfect tooth from soap using dental instruments. I carved slowly and precisely, and then presented her with the gift. She put the tooth in her pocket and then allowed me to clean her teeth. I was immediately struck by the vulnerability of not only soft tissue, but of hearts, as she leaned back and opened her mouth in trust. This moment solidified my decision to become a dentist.
Though the earlier comparison between baking and dentistry is merely an analogy, it is one that suggests I have developed key skills and am aware of the core competencies a dentist must hold to best serve their patients professionally and ethically. Dentistry is my vocation, baking a hobby, but both speak to my investment in excellence, precision, and doing for others." (4500 characters, including spaces)
If you're applying to dental schools in Canada or the US, a personal statement, or similar essay, is often required as part of your application package, regardless of whether you're applying through AADSAS or TMDSAS. This blog will help you understand the key things you must do (and that you must avoid) in composing your essay, with dental school personal statement examples that demonstrate these strategies, so that you can draft the strongest, most compelling dental school personal statement possible.
What is a Dental School Personal Statement?
A dental school personal statement is your opportunity to show admissions committees who you are as a person and aspiring dental professional, aside from your CV, GPA, Dental Aptitude Test (DAT) score, and other quantitative data. As any personal statement essay, the dental school personal essay should be a narrative account that gives the admissions committee the opportunity to learn more about you than what can be conveyed in a dry document like a CV or transcript.
For dental school ADEA AADSAS applications, the American Dental Education Association requires an essay of no more than 4,500 characters (including spaces), which must demonstrate your key personal qualities, aspirations, and reasons for pursuing a career in dentistry to the schools to which you are applying. This process isn’t as standardized in Canadian programs, so you’ll need to check the application requirements for the programs and schools to which you are applying to see if a personal statement is required. In doing so, you can also learn whether there are any specific requirements regarding the length of the essay, whether there is a specific prompt to which you must respond in your dental school personal statement, and whether there are any other application requirements.
1. Tell a story
Ideally, you will craft a story or detail a defining moment that helped you realize why this is the profession you want to pursue. Providing an anecdote or vignette – perhaps an experience you’ve had as a dental patient, an interaction you’ve witnessed as a volunteer or while shadowing a dental care professional, a story about someone you know, etc., – is often a useful way of giving the evaluators a window into your life and motivations.
To tell a great story, "show, don't tell" - here's a video that breaks down this concept:
2. Demonstrate why you’re a “good fit”
Your dental school personal statement should also express why you are a strong candidate and a "good fit" for the school and program, while stirring the interest of your reader. Review our blog, dental school acceptance rates to find out which schools are best suited for you. Admissions committees will review hundreds of these personal statements, so draw on the values of the profession and the mission of the institution to highlight your alignment with the vision and goals of this vocation, and do so in a way that is engaging and enjoyable to read. Again, narrative is a great way of doing this – people love stories and are often naturally drawn in by them. Bear this in mind as you begin drafting your essay.
3. Be authentic and readable
In your personal statement, you want to present your very best self, emphasizing your genuine passion for the field and your enthusiasm for working in a healthcare profession like dentistry. Don’t try to cram in complicated terminology or jargon, thinking it will make you sound smarter (it won’t – true experts know how to explain their ideas effectively to an audience of non-specialists), and don’t rely on clichés (e.g., “I want to help people” – this is a lovely desire, but it’s over-used and too generic). Use polished prose that represents your genuine voice and reasons for pursuing the profession, and write in a way that will be comprehensible even to those outside this particular specialization.
4. Express your desired contributions to the field
Quite simply, you need to explain why you will be a good dentist, in both practical terms and in terms of devoting yourself to patient care. What does it mean to you to dedicate yourself to the profession and to patients? What experiences have you had with the dental profession so far, and how have these impacted you? What are your priorities as an aspiring dentist? Thinking through these questions, while also pointing to concrete experiences or accomplishments that support your responses, will help the committee see not just who you are now, but who you are working to become as you pursue the goal of becoming a dental professional.
Here's a great video on where to look for inspiration when trying create a dental school personal statement:
Here are some key “don’ts” in composing your dental school personal statement:
1. Don’t summarize your CV
Your personal statement shouldn’t simply repeat information available elsewhere in your application materials. Referring to experiences discussed in those materials, for the purpose of expanding on them or contextualizing them, is fine. Just ensure that you’re actually doing that work and demonstrating the significance of the experience(s) you describe. For example, if your CV indicates that you’ve done volunteer work at a dental clinic or with an organization, it’s totally fine to discuss this volunteer work in your personal statement; however, that discussion must go beyond what is offered in your other application materials. Your dental school personal statement shouldn't be a dry recitation of events in your CV. It should be a persuasive and engaging work that draws on just a few select experiences that epitomize your interests, priorities, and the work you've done so far in working toward becoming a dentist. For example, instead of giving names, dates, and general facts about your experience as a volunteer, you can tell a story of a particularly meaningful accomplishment or interaction, reflecting on how it helped solidify your desire to pursue this career.
2. Don’t dwell on negative experiences
If you’ve overcome challenges or if there are less-than-ideal aspects of your educational experience so far (such as a term where your GPA took a dip), it’s fine to address these in a personal statement essay. However, it is crucial that you reflect on this from a perspective of growth, resiliency, and capacity for improvement, rather than focusing on the negatives. If your grades took a hit one term because of extenuating circumstances, by all means, take some time to explain this, if you think it will be helpful (and it often is). However, the discussion around the circumstances should be minimal – just a set-up for a more substantial discussion of what you learned, how you grew, etc. – and you shouldn’t use this as an opportunity to make excuses. Rather, briefly describe the event, own up to your mistake or misstep (if applicable), and then spend the most time explaining how you addressed the issue, how you moved past it, and why you will be a better future professional for having gone through it.
3. Don’t wait until the last minute
Probably the biggest mistake students make is to not take the personal statement seriously enough, waiting until just a few days before it’s due to even begin. You must begin early – a strong personal statement essay can take months and numerous revisions to be the best it can possibly be. You need to put a lot of thought into this document, as it is a very important component of your application. This is your chance – and often your only chance – to address the evaluators on a human level, prior to answering dental school interview questions, including MMI questions. So, rather than thinking of this as a chore, think of it as an opportunity to demonstrate your best self to the admissions committee.
4. Don’t submit your dental school personal statement without getting expert feedback
The personal statement isn’t just about what you’ve done, it’s about who you are – what your values are, what your priorities are, what your reasons for pursuing this profession are, and how all of these things align with the discipline and school you are approaching with your application package. Getting expert feedback from those on the “other side” of such applications, those who have gone through the process successfully or those who have been part of admissions committees, will give you incredibly valuable insights into how to make your own personal experiences stand out and work for you most effectively. At this stage of your professional development, you face a wealth of “unknown-unknowns”; i.e., things that you don’t even know to look for or consider, because it's likely that you simply haven’t been exposed to the field or the process long enough or in an official capacity. This can be a considerable hindrance, so don’t try to take on this task alone. Seek out expert feedback, and do so early enough that you can review, revise, and implement any necessary changes to make your dental school personal statement the best it can possibly be.
Want a recap? Check out our video here:
We are shaped by our life experiences, and my most impactful life experience occurred when I was a year old. My five-year-old brother, [name of brother], drowned in a neighborhood pool, lacing my childhood experiences with sorrow. I remember the grief that lingered within my family and my feelings of wanting to comfort them, especially my father. When he came home from his long days of work, I would climb up beside him at the kitchen table and pat his back, hoping to relieve his despair. Growing up in a tightly knit, first-generation Greek American household strengthened my family as we worked through our sadness, and this tragedy made me acutely aware that nothing should be taken for granted.
It was not just the pain that I shared with my father; it was our passion for teeth. When I was six years old, I was thrilled to share with him that my first primary tooth was loose. It was fascinating to watch him cut and knot a piece of floss around that tooth. Holding my hand in his, together we pulled out my first central incisor. The exhilaration from pulling my tooth, hearing the crack, and stroking my tongue against the hollow space in my gum sparked my interest in teeth. I went on to pull the rest of my primary teeth, on my own; it came naturally to me. Next, I moved on to extracting all of my younger sister's loose teeth. By third grade, my peers were asking me to pull their loose teeth, and I was conducting my "practice" in the school restroom. More importantly, I cherished how my peers not only trusted my skills but relied upon my ability to comfort them.
During our Greek Easter meal, it is tradition to serve an entire roasted lamb. For years after dinner when my family left the table, I would linger to crack open the lamb jaw, pull out the teeth, bleach them, and study the herbivorous oral anatomy, comparing it to my own omnivorous one. By the time I was twelve years old, it was apparent I was ready to broaden my experiences. My dad and his associates invited me to shadow and assist in their dental practices. I observed my father not only build his practice but his genuine relationships with his patients.
The importance of the dentist and patient relationship became even clearer during my time volunteering as a dental assistant at the [name of clinic] which provides dental care for the hospital's patients including those in the Cancer Care Unit. There, I came in contact with a diverse patient population, most whose cancer had impacted their oral health. Our smile, our mouth, is one of the first things that people notice about us. When chemotherapy takes away a person's hair, its impact can be remedied with a wig. However, the effect of the disease on a person's face and mouth also affects self-esteem and requires a remedy. I observed the dentists working to find the best treatment options for their patients while being considerate of their financial situations. Being trilingual in English, Greek, and Spanish, I was able to provide emotional support for many of these patients. Watching their smiles and self-confidence return further ignited my passion for dentistry.
Being a first-generation Greek American has given me perspective on my Greek American life. Working as a translator for the Physical Therapy Department at the [name of nursing home] allowed me to immerse myself in my culture and to further appreciate the importance of communication in providing excellent care. Many of the residents have little to no family and crave companionship. As I reflect back on my most fulfilling experiences, I realize it is interpersonal connections that bring me the most fulfillment. Just as I sought to ease my father's pain following my brother's death, I watched my father, other practitioners, and even myself at the dental practice, hospital, and nursing home provide comfort through sincere listening and conversation.
As I embark on the next steps of this journey, it is my goal never to lose sight of the patients' worthy of oral and emotional care. The pivotal moments in my life have developed my two passions, people and dentistry. Loss can create great pain, but it may also gift us with great strength and compassion. I have come to learn that both of these passions are equally important to me, and it is essential not to compromise one for the other. I strive to brand my future profession by mastering the science of dentistry and the art of creating a trusting patient environment.
Dental School Personal Statement Example: #4
Nothing can scare my father. Whether it is a giant spider, an aggressive encounter, or career adversity - he is never intimidated and handles everything with grace. Nevertheless, before visiting a dentist, my father would be so anxious that he would lose sleep the night before. He avoided dental visits as much as possible, but the inevitable visit happened after his falling teeth impaired his ability to eat solid food. After successful teeth implants, my father was able to eat the food that he loves. Moreover, he could laugh with confidence again as he no longer needed to worry about hiding his teeth loss. Despite the positive outcome, my father’s dental visit-induced anxiety persists. I keep wondering if my father’s experience could be enhanced if his anxiety were more closely addressed. Therefore, throughout my undergraduate study, I focused on exploring and developing the characteristics that would contribute to becoming a competent and empathetic dentist.
Effective communication skills and the ability to empathize with others are essential in building a professional and trusting dentist-patient relationship. As a behavioral health volunteer at [name of hospital], I worked closely with patients with dementia. Due to the nature of their neurological conditions, I found myself in many unexpected situations that required fast and effective problem-solving. Once, while accompanying a female elderly during a church service, she became confused upon arrival despite previously expressing interest in attending the service. I tried to reassure her, but she could not hear me well due to hearing impairment. As a result, she became agitated and repeated questions loudly, disrupting the priest’s speech. As more and more attendants looked over, I gently asked to escort the patient out of the room. While outside, I explained to her why we had to leave. Throughout our interaction, I empathized with her by understanding that her behavior was not due to ill intentions but rather her unpredictable condition. From our conversation, I realized that the patient wanted the companionship she missed from leaving the service. Therefore, I offered to chat with her and we talked for the rest of my service visit. During all my visits, I took the initiative to act with open-mindedness, compassion, and empathy to avoid taking advantage of the already vulnerable population. By doing so, I am better equipped to validate their feelings and resolve any conflicts while maintaining a safe environment.
In addition to an empathetic personality, a professional dentist should feel passionate about innovating through research and advocating for their patients. For the past year, I have been working as a research student at the [name of university]. Prior to this position, I had no experience in clinical research and my knowledge of kidney cancer was limited. However, I was always passionate about learning and improving patient care through research. After quickly catching up on the required literature reading, I became involved in multiple clinical research projects, including my own project on genetic screening in kidney cancer. I interviewed patients who fulfilled the criteria for genetic screening referrals in order to build a database for future research on related topics. Knowing the importance of genetic screening in ensuring more effective surveillance and treatment for patients and families, I advocated for genetic screening during patient interviews. In addition to asking patients research-related questions, I answered all their questions regarding germline testing to my full capacity. I noted the questions that I wasn’t able to answer in order to relay them to my principal investigator for his expertise. I am currently continuing the research in genetic screening as my thesis project, which assesses patient awareness of the procedure and identifying reasons why patients are interested or concerned about such procedure. I believe that it is as important to share information obtained from research with patients as conducting the research. Therefore, I plan to use the collected information to construct educational pamphlets and videos which will increase overall patient awareness and help them make informed decisions regarding germline testing.
In addition to the willingness to learn and share knowledge, a competent dentist should be eager to apply their learning to give back to their community. Volunteering for [name of organization], a [name of city]-based non-profit organization, I aided weekly workshops that teach elementary school students about the topics of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). As my education on STEM strongly influenced my career planning, I felt compelled to help introduce these fields to students living in communities with low socioeconomic status who otherwise wouldn’t get such exposure from school alone. This opportunity also allowed me to interact with students from diverse backgrounds. Once, there was a student on the autism spectrum in my class. I took the initiative to arrange a meeting with the workshop instructor and the schoolteacher to discuss how to help the student get the most from the workshops. After the meeting, the instructor and I devised a detailed strategy to help the student maintain focus during class. As the instructor would be occupied with teaching, I would implement the strategy by checking up on the student frequently. I used a reward technique which allowed the student to play their favorite game for 5 minutes after finishing the task assigned by the instructor. At the end of the term, we received positive feedback from the student’s family saying that the student enjoyed the class and showed the family the coding technique they learned.
From my father’s experience, I realized the importance of dental care - the health of teeth could have a significant impact on one’s quality of life, both in the ability to carry out daily tasks and one’s self-confidence. I felt grateful for the skillfulness of my father’s dentist, as the success of the procedure brought ease and confidence back to my father’s life. Since then, I have been identifying and developing the skills that would help me become a dentist who not only has the skill to provide quality treatment, but also the empathy to address patient anxiety. Seeing the smile on my father’s face after the procedure makes me want to become a dentist who can help bring the smiles back to my future patients.
Dental School Personal Statement Example: #5
Imagine going out for lunch one day, hopping into your car to drive home, only to wake up a few hours later with the most excruciating pain you have ever experienced to date. A doctor is removing pieces of glass out of the side of your head. There is a loud ringing in the back of your brain. You are extremely confused. A nurse is explaining to you that you were in a severe car accident and that you are in the intensive care unit. An intense sense of fear washed over me as I began to think of the potential implications this experience would have on my life.
I’ve always known that dentistry was my calling and I hoped to follow in my father's footsteps, but this life-altering moment made my life-long dream seem completely impossible. When I was young, I regularly accompanied my father to work. I know several of his patients and I deeply enjoyed seeing them being taken care of in many ways. My dream has always been to be able to provide the same high level of health care to as many patients as possible. This dream appeared impossible when I found out from my doctor that my life may never be the same again. I had to re-learn how to walk and talk, my short-term memory was severely compromised, and I had debilitating migraines daily. I remember how I felt when I went to take my first step after the car accident and fell to the floor. It was devastating.
I must admit, initially, I lost sight of my dream of being a dentist. I thought, “How can I possibly make it through all of the schooling ahead of me when I can’t even remember what I ate for lunch today?”. However, I focused on remembering what my parents always taught me; “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Each day I focused on one task that I could improve on and after several years I was back to the condition I was in before the accident. The most monumental lesson I learned from this experience has been to never give up or lose sight of what is important to you. Anything is possible when you set your mind to something and work every day towards that goal. After years of rehabilitation, I finally reached the point where I could return to my undergraduate degree. My ability to learn new information was returning to me quite well. Since then, my brain and memory have fully recovered, which has astounded my doctors.
Throughout my recovery experience, I have seen firsthand, a wide variety of the various disciplines in the health care industry and I still am most interested in the dental field. I find it fascinating how oral health can affect the overall health of the body; not just the ability to eat and digest foods properly, but how certain bacteria in the mouth have been linked to many other systemic diseases. The oral-systemic connection is something I am excited to learn more about. During my recovery, I spent years as a patient to many different health care professionals in many different fields. These experiences have allowed me to view healthcare from a patient perspective, and provided me with insight as to how patients like to be treated. The best health professionals are friendly and compassionate, with a great ability to communicate at a level that the patient can fully understand. These characteristics create a deeper sense of trust between the health professional and the patient; where the patient’s confidence in the diagnosis and treatment grows with their connection to their carer.
Since I have returned to my undergraduate degree I have volunteered at a non-profit dental clinic. I was once again in the office aiding and observing the oral health care of many individuals. I felt at home. This reaffirmed my life dream of becoming a dentist and has inspired me to keep pushing towards it. At any time, life can throw you in directions you didn't expect. It is always extremely valuable to look at one’s experiences and learn all that you can from them. I have learned the value of earning trust; accomplished by compassion, communication and a high level of care. I am devoted to accomplishing my life purpose of serving others. This is who I am and who I will be as a dentist.
Dental School Personal Statement Example: #6
During my childhood, I spent most of my time creating shapes from clay, as I enjoyed paying attention to the most discreet of details. When I turned 5 years old, my mother gifted me a kit containing sculpting materials. At first, I did not show any interest in my new gift; however, it wasn’t long before sculpting became my favorite hobby. The art of sculpting enamored me; I became quickly immersed in the craft, using it as a channel to express myself to the world around me, developing my dexterity skills organically. As I got older, I registered in official sculpting courses & followed my passion for shaping objects, professionally. Since then, my spare time has happily been spent creating various sculptors, forms of art that I am proud of. Little did I know that my love for the art of sculpting would help me discover my true passion and calling in life: Dentistry.
At the age of 18, I achieved 457th place among 833,000 other competitors in the [name of university] entrance exam. Growing up in a family of medical professionals inspired me to start my medical education in Iran. It didn’t take very long for me to realize that becoming a physician did not instill in me the same passion that my dedication to sculpting did. My interest and talent in manual skills and passion for providing health services to the community instead drew me to the art of dentistry. I started shadowing a dentist to explore my interest. I observed dental procedures and became familiarized to the dynamic work environment of dental offices. Once, there was a child who came to the office with an abscessed tooth, crying of pain. His mother, distraught and concerned, pleaded with the secretary for an appointment. The secretory was busy helping other patients, and unfortunately was unable to tend to the situation at hand. The child’s face was swollen and he had difficulty breathing. I realized that we were in a critical situation and proceeded to inform the dentist. He immediately came to the patient’s aid and assisted him. The dentist calmly explained the situation and the procedure that he was going to perform, to both the child and his mother, providing them with some relief. I stayed with the patient and his mother during the dental procedure, providing emotional support. After the procedure was finished, both the patient and his mother appeared reassured and relieved. The patient approached me to say, “I have always known angels are real and you are one of them”. That was a precious and unforgettable moment for me; it taught me the importance of proper communication with patients and its impact on their respective experiences during their visits to dental offices. This shadowing during my first year of my medical education opened the door to a new world for me; I was able to find the field representing my true calling and passion in life. I was instantly excited to change the course of my life, embarking on this new chapter of pursuing the world of Dentistry.
When I arrived in Canada, I started shadowing a general dentist, [name of dentist] and an orthodontist, [name of orthodontist]. I was able to observe how doctors restore oral health, transforming the lives of their patients. Two years ago, there was a young child who came to [name of orthodontist]'s clinic with the hope of having his bite realigned. When I began conversing with him, I learned that he had been bullied at school because of the shape of his teeth which caused him to lose his self-esteem. When he first started his treatment, he was afraid of getting bullied because of his braces, but I listened to him intently, reassured him and let him know there was no reason to pay attention to bullies. Over the past two years, I have been able to see his progress and the final result was inspirational. He regained his confidence, acquiring the most beautiful smile.
After this experience and many other experiences shadowing dentists, I became even more motivated to pursue dentistry as my career. I learned that active listening and communication are essential in building trust, forming quality connections, and overall, becoming a compassionate, caring dentist. I know that this is my true calling in life and I would love to be a part of the positive transformation in people’s lives helping them achieve beautiful, confident, and healthy smiles.
Dental School Personal Statement Example: #7
[Name of doctor] held up the mirror. "Go ahead", she encouraged her patient. After a few seconds of hesitation, her patient finally opened her eyes and I watched in surprise as she began to sob. Following 15 years of living with chipped teeth and constant self-doubt, her smile was perfect again. My alumni mentor [name of doctor] had invited me to shadow her at her clinic and she explained later that it was common to see patients respond with joy and tears upon seeing their dream smile.
That moment resonated with me and took me back to a similar time during my adolescence. Much like my peers, I struggled with my image and self- confidence. When combined with having crooked teeth and braces, this made for a difficult time in school. My lack of self-esteem led me to avoid social situations at a time when I should have been building relationships with my peers. In later years, once my braces came off, my smile was freed, and with it, my confidence. This carried on into university where my confidence grew to be an asset and emboldened me to join student groups, excel academically and become a student leader in my [name of university]'s community. In that moment, I realized that dentistry is more than just improving a physical smile, but greatly impacts how we feel about our whole selves.
During my formative years in high school and with strong interests in science, I expressed the desire to pursue a career in health care early on. It was through my volunteering experience at a local hospital in Dubai and rotating through several medical specialties that further confirmed my conviction, that dentistry was the right path for me. As I explored dentistry, the broad scope of practice it offered was exciting. It fascinated me to see the play between learned knowledge and the need for dexterity, along with creativity and aesthetic sense to produce the best results.
Through shadowing opportunities, I learned the importance of communication with patients, to be sensitive to their needs and queries. Observing how successful dentists connect with their patients, I discovered parallels in their patient care and my experience teaching piano to disadvantaged children through [name of university]'s Music Box Children's Charity. I had the privilege of working with children of different ages and family backgrounds and aside from improving their musical abilities, our lessons taught me to be both an active listener and attentive to each child's needs and strengths.
This past summer, I worked closely and developed genuine relationships with my peers to create a tight-knit community around me. I have been working as chairperson for Orientation at [name of university], managing a team of 150 undergraduates to create events that will best prepare students for university. The magnitude of this undertaking has given me the opportunity to learn about effective leadership styles when interacting with members of my team whilst managing and delegating tasks with consensus and mutual respect. I have seen that dental practice also requires a team approach, with the central focus and goal being to provide the best treatment plan and care for the patient. Having grown up in Dubai, I observed a lack of awareness regarding oral health with people having a reactive rather than preventative approach to it. Part of my enthusiasm for dentistry is to use my community-building experiences to develop positive, trustworthy patient relationships and encourage them to take charge of their oral health.
When you meet someone new, their smile has the power to reflect their personality and leave an impression. The smallest difference in one's oral care can have a big impact on their overall well-being and the significance of that instigates an excitement within me to pursue a career in this facet of healthcare. I believe that dentistry allows me to meet my career goals as dentists are healthcare experts with the skills and opportunity to work in a team setting, providing care to all ages, creating awareness, and giving back to the community. An opportunity to work in this profession would not only give me the level of personal satisfaction but would also allow me to pursue my dream of making a difference by helping people look and feel healthier, more attractive, and confident. Through genuine care, support, and encouragement, my dentist helped improve my appearance and self-esteem and I look forward to the opportunity to make the same positive impact in my future patient's lives.
1. What are some common mistakes students make when writing their personal statement?
- Starting too late. Getting your personal statement right requires multiple edits and revisions. If you start working on your statement too late, you risk running out of time for proper revisions and edits, leaving a rushed, sub-par statement. Remember, your personal statement is a direct reflection of who you are as a person, and who you'll become as a dentist. It's not something that can be, nor should be rushed.
- Showing instead of telling, for example, saying “I'm a great listener” instead of demonstrating that you're a great listener through real examples in your essay.
- Focusing on too many experiences. In general, it's best to discuss 2-3 experiences in your personal statement. You should be able to discuss each experience in-depth, and reflect on what you learned from a particular experience. Too many experiences crammed in doesn't allow you to really expand on each experience and doesn't provide an in-depth analysis of how this experience was transformative on your path to becoming a dentist.
- Listing information that's already found in your application materials. Your personal statement is not a list, instead, it should be a story of your journey to dentistry.
- Jumping around in time. Your personal statement should be in chronological order, beginning with your initial interest in dentistry and evolving to your absolution that dentistry is the right career path for you. Jumping around in time makes for a disjointed essay that will come across as confusing to admissions committee members. In addition, you want to ensure that you utilize strong transitional sentences, as these tie together paragraphs and aid in the overall flow of your essay.
- Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Mistakes and errors in your personal statement are harmful because they tell admissions committees that you're not detail-oriented, you rushed your statement and because of that, you don't really care about it, or their program. Ensure your statement is reviewed multiple times, ideally with a professional's help, to ensure your essay puts your best foot forward and is free from any spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
- Boasting. While you can certainly highlight a few key accomplishments in your statement, such as finishing at the top of your class or raising money for a good cause, it's important that you are tactful in how you phrase your accomplishments. You always want to be humble, and think about what an achievement means to you and why. Lastly, it's a good idea to reflect on what you learned from your achievements and how that can translate in your career as a dentist.
2. Can I tell someone else's story in my personal statement?
While the majority of your personal statement should be about you - your experiences and how they relate to your decision to pursue dentistry, you can certainly include information relating to another person. For example, you could mention a family member's struggle with a disease, a patient's story, or a conversation with a dentist. As long as you circle back to why this story is significant in your pursuit of dentistry, what you learned from the experience or even how an experience changed your point of view.
3. How long should my personal statement be?
Your personal statement must adhere to the ADEA's character count of 4500 characters, including spaces. However, this doesn't mean that you must include this many characters. As long as your essay is below the count, it's most important that you focus on creating a powerful, in-depth essay that proves to the admissions committee why you want to be a dentist and why you would be suitable for a career in this field, then it's perfectly acceptable.
4. How important is my dental school personal statement?
Your personal statement is one of the most important aspects of your entire dental school application. It will serve as your introduction to admissions committees – letting them know who you are a person, who you are as a candidate, and essentially, that you're suitable for a career in dentistry. A poorly crafted personal statement can result in rejection from dental school, so it's essential that your statement is both engaging and memorable to secure you an invitation to interview.
5. Should I mention my grades and DAT score in my personal statement?
No, remember, this information will be included elsewhere in your application, so it's not suitable to include this in your personal statement.
6. How do I even get started?
- Brainstorm ideas.
- Create an outline.
- Focus on body paragraphs first using a maximum of 3 experiences.
- Ensure you SHOW what you learned (don’t tell) by using examples.
- Write your conclusion.
- Write your introduction last.
7. What elements make up a strong personal statement?
- Attention-grabbing introduction: Not just a thesis statement, but something interesting to draw the reader in, like a quote or a story.
- Transitions: These should lead from one paragraph to the next, creating flow. Use linking words such as however, additionally, also, next, etc.
- Strong examples: This way you are showing, not telling.
- Clear and direct language: Your language does not have to be fancy, what's most important is that it's easy to read and follow. For example, “utilize” is one of the most over-used words in academic essays and “use” works just as well.
- Conclusion: This should summarize your main points, but also leave the reader with a compelling closing sentence that makes them want to find out more about you. For example, include a call back to your opening anecdote and highlight how far you have come.
8. How should I edit my personal statement? How many edits should I complete?
Begin by writing the BEST first draft you can and then bein your edit. Don’t write something of average quality, half-done, or way over the character limit. Trying to work from these copies will only create confusion and delays. Next, you should read your essay out loud to yourself sentence by sentence to ensure it flows well and to catch any grammatical errors. Each sentence should be contributing to the overall point. If you find yourself repeating your thoughts in multiple forms, think about paring your sentences down. Quality is more important than quantity. Next, repeat this process 2-3 times. Resist the urge to keep tinkering over and over again. There are multiple strong ways to word sentences and express your thoughts. There are probably even multiple experiences you could highlight and have an equally strong personal statement. However, obsessing over each sentence and word once you have written a strong statement will just lead to changing too many things, delays, you feeling nervous, and sometimes even a weaker essay than you started with!
9. Can I mention non-dental experiences in my personal statement?
Yes, you can definitely mention experiences in your personal statement that are non-academic or not related to dentistry. A strong experience to mention should be one that taught you important skills and that influenced your decision to pursue dentistry. Personal experiences can also have a strong influence on which profession you pursue, so you can definitely mention non-academic experiences.
10. Who else can I ask to review my essay?
It’s certainly normal to want input from others when we are crafting personal statements. A strong reviewer is one who has experience and expertise with professional school applications and has helped other students before. For example, someone with an advanced degree like a practicing dentist or other professional. Even though you may feel tempted to ask friends and family, you may want to refrain from this, as they are often invested in your success and may find it hard to be objective. Try to find someone who does not know you so well so they can give objective guidance. The other thing you want to avoid is having “too many chefs in the kitchen.” Too many different people reviewing your statement is only going to pull it in too many different directions, ultimately leading to confusion and even more delays.
11. I have a discrepancy, failure, or course withdrawal on my transcript. How can I address this in my personal statement?
Just like you would address this during an interview, your statement can address areas of concern by following these steps:
- Be honest.
- Take responsibility.
- Explain mitigating factors.
- Don't make excuses.
- Share strategies for what you learned and how you would avoid a situation like this in the future.
- Make sure you end on a positive or proactive note.
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