A common question that I get from my students is whether or not research is required for dental school, and how to land a research position with little to no experience.
First, let's make this point clear: research is NOT required to apply to dental school. However, having research definitely can open new doors for you when it comes to applying to dental schools.
The reason that research experience can help win an admissions offer is because:
Research experience shows that you are interested in the sciences.
It shows you pursue new knowledge and are hungry to learn.
It develops your understanding of the scientific method (a method very similar to the method that doctors and dentists use to diagnose and treat patients).
Many of the best dental schools are research-focused, and would like their students to understand research and contribute to their mission of discovering new knowledge.
So clearly, if you can get research experience, you definitely should.
How do I get research experience?
To land you first research position, first make a well-crafted résumé. If you're having a hard time writing and designing your résumé to highlight your experiences with the proper way to "sell" yourself in a grounded manner, reach out for a quick résumé consulting session.
After your résumé is completed, start thinking about what fields of research interest you. Are you fascinated by stem cells? Coral Reefs? The human brain? Find a topic that genuinely interests you and look up professors in those departments on your university's website to find what kind of research they do, and see if you'd like to work in their lab.
I advise my students to make a document that prioritizes a few professor's research topics and then start emailing them. While I provide my students with an email template and documents to guide them through the process, a kind, genuine email that expresses your interest tends to work well. Keep in mind that professors are busy people, and they may take a week or two to get back to you.
Do I have to do dental-related research?
When it comes to doing research, all subjects are weighed the same. Whether it be psychology, marine biology, or even electrical engineering, all topics are weighted the same by admissions committees because it's the principles of research that matter, not the actual topic. For that reason, find a topic you're genuinely passionate about, and pursue research in that field!
Make your résumé, find some professors, and start sending emails! If you need help with any part of the process, feel free to reach out to me and I'm happy to help.
My mission with PreDenting is to help at least 5000 pre-dentals get into the school of their dreams each year. If you found this helpful, all I ask of you is to share it with a friend. Thanks for being a part of my mission and I hope to hear about your successes soon!