As an international dentist, I have seen two cycles of CAAPID. Alas, with success at my side, having gotten accepted into a dental school, I have truly realized the depth of the commitment and preparation required to get into a dental school in the United States.
We have all been listening to the success stories of those who have made it but I believe it is also important to know the other side— to know what failure is like. It is important because failures are the stepping stones to success and more importantly, I believe in the saying, “learn from the mistake of others, you can never live long enough to make them all yourself.”
With that note, today I am going to share the stories of three people (names changed) whom I have come across, who I thought could have done things better to get into a dental school.
Although life scenarios can be different, here are some experiences that you might find helpful.
International Dentist Mistake #1
Samantha came to the United States after marrying a man who had to move the US to work for a few years. They were not sure if they were returning to their home country soon or settle in the foreign land because of her husband’s nature of work. Samantha knew she cannot practice dentistry in the U.S. without going back to dental school. Yet she was reluctant for 2 years as she was not sure if she could commit financially to the dental school expenses. After 2 years, she decides to give dental school a shot, completes NBDE part 1 and applies to a few schools near her city. She did not get an interview call and has therefore, wasted another application year.
What could have been done better in this scenario?
Being in an intermediate situation of uncertainty is a very difficult place to be in. She could have decided her route as soon as she came to the United States. Being undecided and simply trying for the sake of it, not only adds to the pool of applicants but can also be heavy on the pocket.
Applying to dental schools requires your resume to be very strong and having a U.S. experience is a very strong credential. You can make use of your opportunity of staying in the United States to keep improving yourself. It would not go waste even if you decide to go back to your country. You can volunteer in dental community service organizations or health care related organizations or shadow a dentist. You can also volunteer to assist researchers in the dental field. Keep in mind all of this requires good job-searching and communication skills to help you gain the position.
International Dentist Mistake #2
Jacob desired to fulfill his American dream. He was aware of the process and the financial requirements it takes. He came to the United States to take NBDE part 1. Unfortunately, he fails. He had spent quite a lot of money for his first-time travel and visit. Yet he never gave up and tried the second time. Again, he failed. Disappointed with himself, he quit his American plans.
What could have been done better?
In this case, it is quite clear that he should have prepared for the exam well. Your trip from your home country can be quite expensive so you need to be mentally prepared for this. Besides, remember that getting into an American dental system does not end with clearing the NBDE exams. In fact, it begins with that. There is a false notion in some countries, that clearing NBDE is the biggest milestone to get into dental school. Well, the fact is applying to dental schools and getting accepted into one is the most challenging of them all.
International Dentist Mistake #3
Uma has always wanted to achieve her American dream. She did everything consistently—from clearing the boards to shadowing dentists to doing preceptorships in US dental schools. Coming to the he United States with a tourist visa, she spent a fortune on travel and applications. She applied for two CAAPID cycles and during the second cycle she got an interview call from only one school. Unfortunately, she was only waitlisted and much to her worry, the waitlist did not move. Now she must spend another year in CAAPID applications.
What could have been done better?
This is a commonly seen scenario. The best you can do in this situation is to put your best foot forward. Apply early, put your personal statement and letters of recommendation as perfect as possible, polish your resume and put efforts into adding experience before applying. Most importantly, do not let an opportunity slip your hand because of your underperformance in the bench exam and interview since getting interview calls itself is difficult due to the fierce competition. Be well-prepared for it in advance. Be financially and mentally prepared for the expenses and remember, once you get accepted you cannot take loans without a US citizen or permanent resident co-signer. You will need to show the financial requirement of $100k to get your student visa. You don’t want all your efforts to go waste if you are not prepared for the things mentioned above.
I hope this opinion blog gives you an insight on all the hardships that unprepared applicants may experience. Always remember the importance of preparation as being prepared is already half the victory!
We wish you the best of luck with your application and journey!