Pre-Dental


(Click on the headings below for more information.)

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Choosing a Dental School?

Dental programs vary in their admissions requirements, program delivery, missions, and quality. It is important to research Dental schools to determine which schools fit your interests and needs most. Most students apply to an average of 14-20 Dental schools.

Prerequisite Courses

Note: The prerequisites listed here are a general guideline of common courses required by Dental schools or will help you prepare for the DAT. Dental programs determine their own individual requirements. It is your responsibility to research the specific requirements for each school you are interested in applying to. If you have questions, always contact each individual program.

Your Pre-Health counselor will help you plan your prerequisite courses, ensuring a doable sequence and proper timeline. It is recommended you prioritize the registration of prerequisite courses over major and general education requirements as you may often finish some requirements during the application process.

Required by most dental schools with a grade of C or better (generally avoid online pre-req. options):

  • Intro to Writing: ENGL 1010
  • Intermediate Writing: ENGL 2010 or 2020
  • College Biology I and II with labs: BIOL 1610/1615 and 1620/1625
  • Principles of Chemistry I and II with labs: CHEM 1210/1215 and 1220/1225
  • Organic Chemistry I and II with labs: CHEM 2310/2315 and 2320/2325
  • College Physics I and II with labs: PHYS 2010/2015 and 2020/2025
  • Biochemistry: Biology 3600 (for the DAT)
  • Human Physiology: ZOOL 2420/2425 (strongly recommended)
  • Human Physiology: ZOOL 2320/2325 (Strongly recommended)

In addition, many schools require the following courses:

  • General Psychology: PSY 1010
  • Cell Biology: BIOL 3400 (strongly recommended)
  • Microbiology: MICRO 2060/2065 or MICR 3450/3455
  • Genetics, immunology, or upper division biology
  • Trigonometry : MATH 1060 (for the DAT)

GPA

NOTE : All grades received for college credit will be calculated into your GPA, even if you have retaken courses. If you have taken any courses at a different school or if you have retaken courses, your UVU GPA will not likely reflect the accurate GPA calculation for Dental schools. Check with each individual school regarding their policy on retakes. GPA is a vital part of your application to Dental school. Dental will consider your science GPA, non-science GPA and cumulative GPA as well as the trend of grades. Some schools will evaluate your 2-3 most recent years more heavily than your first 1-2 years.

  • Minimum GPA considered: 3.0
  • Average accepted GPA: 3.5

GUIDELINES:

    • Include every course you have taken for college credit even if you have retaken the course.
    • Include transfer credit from other schools you have attended.
    • Dental schools do not include Math courses in the BCPM.
    • Biology courses include BIOL, MICRO, BOT and ZOOL.
    • Physics courses include ASTR.
    • Exercise Science courses that are science based (Kinesiology, Biomechanics, etc.) should be calculated with the science GPA.
    • Pass/Fail courses are not included in the GPA.

DAT (Dental Admission Test)

The DAT is a standardized examination required as part of your application to dental school. It is a very challenging exam that requires extensive preparation in the form of review and practice. In fact, your preparation for the DAT will begin with the first day of your first pre-dental prerequisite course.

The DAT contains 4 timed sections that lead to a total of 8 scores in the categories below, with each section scored from 1 to 30:

      • Biology
      • General Chemistry
      • Organic Chemistry
      • Quantitative Reasoning (basic math, geometry, algebra, and trigonometry)
      • Reading Comprehension
      • Total Science (an average of biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry scores)
      • Academic Average (an average of quantitative reasoning, reading comprehension, biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry scores)
      • Perceptual Ability

More information on the DAT can be obtained online at www.ada.org. Average accepted DAT Score in each section: 20 out of 30. The average score for accepted students is a 19-20 in each section. The minimum score you should have in order to be considered by dental schools is a 17 in each section.

STUDYING FOR THE DAT

You should begin studying for the DAT at least 6 months prior to taking the test. Consider your study time to be equivalent to the time commitment of a 3-4 credit hour class. Some students choose to study on their own or with other students who are also preparing to take the exam. For students who choose to study on their own, there are various books designed to help guide you through the preparation process. Books have been published by Kaplan and Princeton Review to name a few. These books can be purchased online or at various bookstores.

Other students choose to take a prep course. There are several private companies that offer DAT prep courses, each with their own individual promises. These courses may be as much as $1500. UVU does not recommend one company over another. Visit the companies' websites listed below and talk to fellow classmates before choosing a prep course.

The Dental Application

Nearly all Dental programs use the Dental school centralized application service (AADSAS). AADSAS allows you to apply to several schools without filling out multiple applications. AADSAS opens around June 1 and runs for nearly one year per admissions cycle.

Plan to apply to Dental school as soon as pre-requisites are completed (or almost completed), starting in June. Early application is vital to being considered competitively. Generally, students will have one year to complete additional requirements and bachelor's degree after they have started the application.

Extracurricular Activities

It is extremely important to be involved in activities outside of the classroom in order to be competitive for admission into vet school. GPA and GRE scores are important, but they do not make you unique. Extracurricular activities are a chance for you to set yourself apart and display your motivation for pursuing a dental degree and dedication to serving the community. Preparing to apply for dental school is NOT about checking off boxes. Dental schools are not going to care if you have done the experiences if you have not learned from them. Admissions committees want to know that you are willing and able to learn in any circumstance and/or environment.

Extra-curricular activities help Dental schools evaluate your potential as a clinician and professional. They can help you stand out as an applicant and demonstrate your motivation for pursuing a career in healthcare. Consider planning out your extra-curricular activities by semester, just like your pre-requisite courses. Starting early helps avoid the stress associated with cramming everything into the last few semesters prior to the application.

Minimum Recommended Extra-curricular Activities

  • Dental Experience: 50-100 hours shadowing or other dental related experience
  • Volunteer Service: 45 hours during each of the pre-dental years including the year of application
  • Leadership: 3 different leadership positions during the pre-dental years
  • Research: 45 hours during the pre-dental years. Research is not required, but is highly recommended and should be hypothesis-based in any subject
  • Healthcare Experience: 50-100 hours of shadowing/experience

Volunteering

What is it?

Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life, but there are many benefits to volunteering including skill development, meeting others, having fun, and a variety of other reasons. Volunteerism is the act of selflessly giving of yourself without the expectation of compensation. Compensation includes payment, stipends, or grades for a class.

Why should I do it?

To be a strong applicant for health professions programs you should demonstrate dedication to serving the community. The volunteer opportunities you choose can also be an excellent way to set yourself apart by showing health professions programs what is meaningful to you. The activities you choose to be involved and the reasons why can make you unique. Consider which opportunities will be the best reflection of who you are.

Volunteer service can be done with any group or organization and does not have to be healthcare related, but it can be helpful to look for opportunities that will take you out of your comfort zone and show a diversity of experience. Being involved in 2-3 service opportunities will benefit you more than having several brief experiences. The number of hours each year we typically see from students who get accepted to dental programs are 45-60 hours .

What are the expectations?

In order to be a competitive applicant, you should plan to be involved in volunteer service throughout each academic year (August-July). Most students are already busy taking a full-time schedule and oftentimes working, but it is important to make volunteering a priority. Fit it into your schedule any way it works best. Perhaps you will volunteer for one hour a week. Maybe it will better in your schedule to volunteer four hours on a Saturday once a month. You decide what works best for you.

It is important that you find something you can be dedicated to and passionate about. You will find the experience that much more rewarding. And remember, you are not just checking off boxes to get into a health professions school. You are making a difference in your community and learning valuable lessons about yourself and the world around you.

How do I do it?

It is up to you to find the volunteer experiences that are the best fit for you. One of the first places you can start looking is UVU's Volunteer and Service-Learning Center. This office maintains information on volunteer needs in the community in many different areas. There is a very good chance you will find something there that interests you. Other good resources include United Way and the website volunteers.utah.gov maintained by the state.

Shadowing Program

What is it?

Shadowing provides an opportunity for you to gain exposure to the healthcare field you are interested in and develop a clear understanding of what life in that profession entails. It is a chance to observe a professional as they go through a routine day seeing patients, completing paperwork, talking with insurance companies, etc. Because shadowing is meant to be just observational, it does not fulfill other requirements to gain hands-on experience interacting with patients. Go to the Healthcare Experiences link for information about the hands-on experience expected by health professions programs.

Why should I do it?

Professional schools want to know you have had enough experience with professionals in the field to know that it is something you really want to do and that you have a good understanding of what your life will be like. In addition, it is a great opportunity to ask questions and develop rapport with professionals. You will likely need at least one letter of recommendation from someone in the field you have chosen. You will get a better letter if you spend some time getting to know the people you shadow.

What are the expectations?

You are expected to demonstrate dependability and professionalism, while discovering skills that will benefit you as a healthcare professional. Some programs look for separate shadowing and patient contact experience, while others will consider them combined. Plan to shadow each professional for a minimum of 9-12 hours. The number of overall shadowing hours we typically see from students who get accepted to dental programs are 50-100 hours of shadowing/experience, at least 25 hours should be spent with a general dentist.

How do I do it?

It is up to you to find shadowing experiences that will work best for you. One place to start is by talking to your own healthcare providers. Are they willing to have you shadow? Do they know someone who may be willing to have you shadow them? A second place to start is by asking people you know if they know of anyone you can contact. Cold calling offices is one of the least effective ways to find shadowing opportunities. Start by asking people you know before taking this route.


Research

What is it?

Research is more than just reviewing what others have already done and summarizing it in a long research paper for class. Research revolves around a specific hypothesis and follows the scientific method. Most research is experiment, survey, or observationally based. Research does not have to be limited to healthcare or science fields and instead, may cover diverse subject matters. 

Examples of research:

  • Working in a genetics lab to determine how gene therapy influences deafness in mice
  • Collecting sea snails and observing how quickly they reproduce and in what conditions
  • Conducting interviews with women about how religion influences their self-efficacy
  • Experimenting with how fire-fighters get dressed to increase response rates in emergencies
  • Surveying teens about their views of sexuality

Why should I do it?

Many health professions programs will require you to assist in research, understand how to interpret research, or even run your own research projects. Moreover, you will likely have opportunities to participate in research as a way of receiving financial compensation or to improve your attractiveness to residency programs. Completing research in your undergraduate coursework shows your potential to be successful in graduate level research you are proving that your learning curve will not be too steep because you have done this before.

Research is very strongly recommended for dental school.

What are the expectations?

Many students wait to start working on research until their sophomore or junior year because research often requires enough coursework to provide a strong academic background and an introduction to research principles. Regardless, research should typically be completed prior to the application in order to qualify for credit on the application. Research may be in any subject, as long as it is hypothesis-based.

  • Research must be hypothesis-based
  • Research must be supervised or mentored by someone familiar with research processes
  • Research must follow scientific processes and is not simply reading about research that is already completed
  • Your hypothesis may be your own or you may assist in another person's research
  • Research is typically completed outside of class and not as part of your major
  • Plan on at least 50 hours to be competitive

How do I do it?

There are a few different ways to participate in research.

  1. Create your own project
    1. Develop a hypothesis for a subject of your choice
    2. Approach a professional who knows how to conduct research and ask for his or her help as a mentor
    3. Work with the professional to complete the research following sound scientific principles
  2. Help a professor with his or her own project
    1. Approach a professor to see if he or she is participating in research
    2. If YES, ask if you might be able to participate/assist.
      1. Follow the professor's expectations to complete the research
    3. If NO, ask if he or she knows 2-3 people that might be able to help
      1. Use that reference to approach the referral
      2. Repeat steps until you find a professor who will accept your assistance
  3. Find a professional (healthcare professionals, research organizations, other universities, etc.) to help with an existing project
    1. Approach a professional to see if they might accept your assistance OR
    2. Apply for a research position/internship like you would apply for a job
    3. Follow the professional's expectations to complete the research

Healthcare Experience

What is it?

Healthcare experience outside of shadowing usually includes volunteering or finding employment in a healthcare setting, usually with direct patient contact (i.e. offering clinical care and not just working in a healthcare environment) . Many students will consider getting a basic certification or may find opportunities that offer on-the-job training.

Examples of healthcare experience:

  • Volunteering with hospice
  • Working full-time as a paramedic
  • Taking a C.N.A. certification course and finding a position at a local hospital
  • Receiving on-the-job training to work as a Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy Tech
  • Getting an internship with the 30-Day Heart Challenge

Why should I do it?

Health professions programs will have greater confidence in your ability to interact positively with patients and withstand the rigor of a career in healthcare if they know you have already been part of the industry. As you work in healthcare, you will develop concrete examples of yourself showing compassion to patients, working with a team of healthcare providers, and solving problems. These experiences will likely assist you in your application, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and interviews. Additionally, many health professions programs actually REQUIRE healthcare experience or patient contact.

What are the expectations?

Research the requirements for your health professions program to ensure you are meeting their expectations for healthcare experience. Some programs will specify the hours required and may require the experience to be paid. The recommendation for pre-dental healthcare experience is 50-100 hours of shadowing/experience.

How do I do it?

How you choose to get healthcare experience will depend on the qualifications of the jobs or volunteer opportunities you are seeking. Many positions in healthcare require a certification (e.g. C.N.A., medical assistant, paramedic) while others are more flexible and require on-the-job training. Sometimes approaching organizations directly is more effective than simply responding to job ads online. Many students will also offer to volunteer for free, which sometimes leads to paid employment.

For assistance looking for and applying to healthcare jobs, contact the UVU Career Development Center.


Personal Statement

Many students underestimate the power of a personal statement. It should not be written quickly or without planning. Your personal statement can determine whether you will be accepted into the program you want or not. It is the greatest tool an admissions committee has to get to know you, so it should be an accurate depiction of yourself. Remember, it's about what you learned, not what you did! Listed below are some do's and don'ts of personal statements.

    • DO talk about your motivation for choosing the career that you have (medicine, dental, pharmacy, PT, etc.).
    • DO make it interesting and compelling.
    • DO ask some of your friends and family to read it and ask them what kind of person they would think you are if they had never met you.
    • DO be honest and sincere.
    • DO NOT sound arrogant. Avoid using 'I' unless you are about to explain something you learned from a particular experience.
    • DO NOT describe the characteristics of a good doctor, dentist, pharmacist, etc. and how you have those same characteristics.
    • DO NOT repeat information that can be found elsewhere on your application unless you are adding additional details.
    • DO NOT list your experiences. This is not a resume. DO NOT write it like it is one. Choose one, two or three experiences and discuss them in detail.

Consider the following information from the NAAHP's publication Write for Success: Preparing a Successful Professional School Application:

"Answering some of the following questions my reveal some insights that you can share in your personal statement. As you are writing, you may find yourself feeling the urge to write about a specific event. Follow that urge. You may come up with something that will eventually make it into your personal statement.

    • Who are the most influential people in your life?
    • What have been the pivotal moments in your life? Looking back, what can you recall having changed you? How were you affected?
    • Do feel a passion for medicine [dentistry, pharmacy, physical therapy, etc.]? What is the source of that passion?

If you have a strong reaction to something you are writing about, it means the situation is important to you. Take a moment to think about how your reaction reflects who you are."

Click here for some examples of personal statements. If you would like help with your personal statement, contact the Pre-Health Office at 801-863-6484 to schedule an appointment with a Pre-Health Counselor.


Pre-Dental Letter Service

UVU uses an electronic service for gathering letters of recommendation called veCollect. This service will allow you to track your letters through the veCollect website. Additional information is below. It is highly recommended that you submit 4 letters of recommendation. Check with the individual schools where you are applying to determine which letters you need:

    • 2 science professors
    • 1 dentist you have shadowed or worked with
    • 1 additional of your choosing (professor, dentist, research or service supervisor, employer, etc.)

UVU Letter Service Process

Note: Please include the Letter Request Form when you request your letters of recommendation. All letters must be on letterhead and signed whether they are submitted by mail or electronically.

  1. Go to: collect.virtualevals.net and register for veCollect access. Find UVU and set up your account.
  2. We will manually activate your account once you have paid and attended a veCollect workshop with a counselor.
    • You can pay by cash, check, or credit card at LC 402 or you can pay over the phone at: 801-863-6484.
    • The fee for Pre-Dental Letters is $15.
  3. Once your account is activated, you will receive notification email.
  4. Add evaluator and letter records for each person for whom you are requesting a letter.
  5. Track the status of your letters through veCollect and follow up with letter writers.
  6. Once your file is complete, you will receive an email instructing you to create and lock your quiver.
  7. Letters are transmitted to AADSAS electronically by the Pre-Health Office.
    • Be sure to indicate on AADSAS that you are receiving an electronic, committee letter.
    • Use Douglas Watson as the sender.
    • Use prehealth@uvu.edu as the email address.

How to Submit your Letters

There are 3 possible ways to have your letters of recommendation submitted:

  1. Have your letter writers mail their signed Letter of Recommendation to the address listed below. This is best for letter writers who may not be computer savvy. The Pre-Health Office will create an electronic version of the letter and post it to your veCollect account once the hard copy is received.

    Pre-Health Professions
    Utah Valley University ñ MS 101
    800 West University Parkway
    Orem, UT 84058

  2. The letter writer may submit an electronic PDF or Word document that includes their signature and letterhead to veCollect. This may be a scanned PDF copy or a Word document that has the signature and letterhead added electronically. If your letter writer prefers this method, you will need to send them the email request from veCollect under the My Evaluators section.
  3. As a last result, you can pick the letter up and deliver it to the UVU Pre-Health Office. In this case, the letter must be in a sealed envelope with the letter writer's signature over the seal to ensure confidentiality.

FAQ

  • What if I my grades are poor from some of my earlier semesters?
  • Can I still go to Dental school?
  • I have done a lot of volunteer and leadership with my church, but that doesn't count, does it?
  • What should I major in?
  • How much money will I make as a Dentist?
  • What is the job market like for Dentists?

Who is my counselor if I want to be a Dental Hygienist?

If you are interested in Dental Hygiene contact the school(s) you would like to attend and then see an Academic Counseling Center Advisor to map out your course sequencing. Your advisor is not the Pre-Dental advisor.

How can I be Competitive for Dental School?

Admission to Dental school is a highly competitive process. It is vitally important that Pre-Dental students prepare themselves to be competitive applicants during their undergraduate years.

Applicants are evaluated on a holistic level, with consideration on GPA, DAT scores, Dental shadowing, volunteer, research, and leadership experiences.

Work closely with your Pre-Health counselor who can assist you with:

  • Pre-requisite academic planning
  • Extra-curricular considerations (i.e. shadowing, dental experience, volunteering, etc.)
  • AADSAS and the application process
  • DAT planning
  • Writing personal statements
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Mock interviews

What kind of degree do I need to apply for Dental School?

At least 90 completed semester hours are required before matriculation into dental school; however, more than 90% of all first year dental students have completed a bachelor's degree. Because of this, it is recommended that all pre-dental students plan on completing a bachelor's degree.

Although many pre-dental students select biology as a major, dental schools do not consider one major as better than another. Your major should be chosen based on your interests and strengths and can be in any discipline, science or non-science. It is important to select a major that suits you. Keep in mind that you may use your undergraduate degree to fall back on if you are not accepted into dental school or if you choose to pursue alternate options.


How do I assess myself?

Where can I apply?

There are many factors to consider when choosing which schools to apply to. Most students apply to 10-14 schools. Listed below are some things to consider:

  • Location
  • Board Scores and Pass Rates
  • Cost
  • Curriculum
  • Mission Statement
  • Rotation Options
  • Prerequisite Requirements 

How do I apply?

Dental schools use a central application service where students submit transcripts, list activities/experiences, complete the personal statement and submit letters of recommendation that are then compiled and sent to the individual schools.


What's Your Brand?

This year, we challenge you to decide what your personal brand is. Own it.

Each of these brands imply an image. Of quality. Of style. Of being the best. Likewise, we all have our own personal image, our own brand. We can either haphazardly make choices that allow others to define our brand for us, or we can consciously define who we are, what we stand for.

So we ask the question, Who are you?
What qualities do you want others to associate with your name?

Good Examples

  • Take control of the way you want others to view you by living consistently
  • Volunteering at an animal shelter because it is helping animals.
  • Making sure that you have done your required researching.
  • Choose a profession that you are interested in.

Bad Examples

  • Volunteering at the local animal shelter merely because it is convenient.
  • The inquisitive researcher might seem inconsistent if she is a coordinator for the Super Spring Break Bash, but has limited research experience
  • The friendly future pediatrician may not seem genuinely interested in children if he only works in geriatrics

Avoid the random. Proactively plan who you are and who you want to be.

Remember that applying to professional school comes down to marketing YOU. Find and define your brand so you are memorable. Consistency is key. Here are a few avenues in the application process to consider using effective personal branding:

  • Personal statement: Tell them who you are
  • Extra-curricular activities you choose to participate in: Show them who you are
  • Letters of recommendation: What others see in you
  • Interviews: Confirm who you are