A dentist is a medical professional who leads teams to provide preventative and restorative care to keep people healthy, alleviate pain and treat patients’ oral health needs. Dentists are also at the forefront of research and developments to enhance dental and overall well-being of their patients. A dentist must be comfortable working in close proximity with others, be detail oriented and be very good at working with their hands. Some specialties to be considered include Dental Public Health, Endodontics, Orthodontics, Pediatric Dentistry and Periodontics.
The path to becoming a medical practitioner begins with a genuine desire and interest in helping other people. The strong foundation built as an undergraduate student at Westminster College includes demonstrating the knowledge, skills and personal growth attributes that contribute to a strong dental school application and future success in dentistry.
Students can choose different paths to dentistry school, but must be mindful of the core requirements for competitive applications, preparing for the DAT exam, gaining appropriate experiences in the field and completing their respective majors. While it is possible for a pre-dentistry student to do virtually any academic major, it is imperative for all pre-dent students to work closely with both academic and health professions advisors to ensure completion of all requirements for professional schools and for their undergraduate degree. Most often, a student on a pre-dentistry track will choose a science major such as Biology, Biochemistry or Neuroscience since the curricula include most, if not all, required and recommended courses. Students will typically apply to dentistry school between their junior and senior years, allowing for a direct transition following graduation, but some wait until after they graduate to apply in order to further their education and gain more relevant experience.
The academic and extracurricular experience at Westminster College, ranging from coursework to on- and off-campus service and experiential activities to international study and/or travel, contribute strongly to the appeal of the well-trained and well-rounded individuals who graduate from our school.
A special articulation agreement with Case Western Reserve University allows students to spend three years at Westminster in a traditional liberal arts program, then four years at the Case Western University School of Dental Medicine, earning both the B.S. and D.M.D degrees in seven years instead of the typical eight. To participate in this program, students must be accepted to both Case Western University and Westminster College in their senior year of high school.
Another articulation program permits qualified students who complete the four-year Westminster degree to be directly admitted to the D.M.D. degree program at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) School of Dental Medicine in Bradenton, Florida. Students apply to the eight-year WC-LECOM Dental Affiliation program either as a high school senior, or at any time before the completion of their second year at Westminster.
Core Requirements for Dentistry School (and for DAT Exam Preparation) generally are:
The following courses are also strongly recommended:
Additional course requirements may vary from one professional program to another, so it is the responsibility of the student to be aware of specifics regarding their schools of interest. Good planning and working closely with academic and health professions advisors are essential to maximize chances of success in the highly competitive dental school application environment.
A sample schedule for a biology major preparing to take the DAT exam between their junior and senior year and matriculating to dental school following graduation is below.
With the exception of the core requirements and courses strongly recommended ahead of the DAT exam, there is curricular flexibility within any chosen major and among the elective courses that are part of the liberal arts curriculum at Westminster College. It is, however, strongly suggested that students take both courses in Anatomy & Physiology (BIO 335/336) in order to be prepared for the dental school curriculum. Students planning to study abroad for a semester must also plan accordingly to meet all requirements and timelines. It is also advisable for students to budget time during the spring semester of their junior year to prepare for the DAT exam that will test knowledge in Biology, Organic Chemistry, General Chemistry as well as reading comprehension, perceptual ability and quantitative reasoning.