Can Indian dentists work in the USA? If you are a licensed dentist in India and interested to move to the United States, you might be wondering if your degree is recognized and whether you can continue practicing as a dentist in USA. This article is for those of you who are exploring the possible work options in USA with a dental degree from India.
Can an Indian Dentist work in the US?
Unfortunately, Bachelors of Dental Surgery (BDS) is not recognized completely in the United States. Moreover, there are specific visa requirements you need to comply with if you want to work as a licensed dentist.
How to become a licensed dentist in the USA?
Dental school in the US is a post-baccalaureate level education, meaning students go there after earning undergraduate degree. Dental school itself is considered pre-doctoral because you earn a doctoral degree upon completion of the program.
Getting a DDS or DMD (which is the same degree with different names) is not the same as getting a license. One needs to graduate from an accredited dental school to earn a DDS or DMD and then apply for the state license.
To practice dentistry, you’ll need a license from the state you want to practice in. You can only apply for that license if you meet that states’ requirements. The majority of state license requirements include having graduated from an accredited U.S. or Canadian dental school, while some states can give a license to international dentists that have completed a residency program of usually 2 years or longer. The are only a few states awarding such a license. Each state has its own particular requirements, and you need a thorough research to familiarize yourself with these requirements.
Another alternative route to consider if you’re interested in both practicing dentistry and teaching is to become a full-time faculty member of a U.S. dental school where you’ll be given a provisional license to practice within the school’s boundaries. While you cannot go into private practice with this license, dental schools in the U.S. are often short of faculty making this an excellent opportunity for those with an interest in an academic dental career.
How can you become licensed as an international dentist?
This is the most common route to become a licensed dentist in the US. DDS/ DMD is a usually a 2-year advanced standing program. Some schools have an immigration restriction. NBDE Part 1 is required mostly by all schools while some schools prefer having NBDE Part 2 as well. It is good to familiarize yourself with the requirements of each school before you apply. (Relate article: Study materials for NBDE Part 1 )
- Some schools that consider internationally trained dentists but do not grant advanced standing status. If you are accepted, you will start at year 1 with the rest of incoming dental students and complete the entire program (usually 4 years).
An international dentist could join an accredited post-graduate program and apply a license thereafter instead of going back to school. This is not an option for most states however, as most of the states require international dentists to graduate from an accredited US dental school. If this is a route that interest you, make sure that you find a residency program in a specialty area or a residency program in general dentistry.
There are many Advanced Dental Education Programs in basic science or areas of dentistry that are not recognized as specialties in dentistry. Completing such programs are not likely to give you a dental license in any state.
Before getting into a program, usually schools prefer candidates with some sorts of shadowing experience in the US. Shadowing can be done on a tourist visa, however you can only work on a work visa. Even while you are in a program with student visa, you cannot work elsewhere unlike U.S. citizens. (Relate article: Dental Residency Programs for Foreign-Trained Dentists )
Working as a dental assistant is another route to strengthen one’s CV for the purpose of applying into a US dental school but it does have immigration restrictions and one needs to do basic courses to become a registered dental assistant. Again, each state has its own requirements for working an as a dental assistant.
It is definitely harder for international dentists to get licensed in the US, especially when many have graduated a while back and have already been practicing dentistry in our home country. Nonetheless, this is the reality of the situation.
Got a question about the process? Let us know in the comments section below!