These are professions which need individuals with a diversity of educational backgrounds and a wide variety of talents and interests. Specific pre-medicine and pre-dentistry course requirements and other qualifications for enrollment may vary somewhat from one medical or dental school to another, but all recognize the desirability of a broad education: a good foundation in the natural sciences, highly developed communication skills, and a solid background in the social sciences and humanities. The majority of students entering medical or dental school hold a Bachelor’s degree, but it is possible in some cases to complete the degree requirements after enrollment in the professional school. Most students major in one of the sciences, usually biology or chemistry. It is possible to major in non-science areas, completing the necessary science courses as electives. However, since so much of medicine is derived from a scientific basis, the student who majors in a non-science field and elects the minimum number of required science courses must excel to insure adequacy of preparation and favorable consideration of the application. The entrance tests require excellent verbal reasoning skills, so a good background in English is also advised. A student planning a career in medicine or dentistry should request an advisor from the Natural Sciences as early as possible.

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  • Endodontics
  • Oral Pathology
  • Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology
  • Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Orthodontics
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics
  • Public Health
  • Research
  • Private practice (80% of dentists)
  • Armed services
  • Federal, state, & local health departments
  • Correctional facilities
Test Required: DAT
Schooling Required: After earning an undergraduate degree, the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) requires 4 years of dental school (last 2 years are clinical rotations).

Strategies for Gaining Admittance into Professional Programs

  • Choose an appropriate undergraduate major and include prerequisite courses required by the professional program, e.g. biology, chemistry, and physics, if they are not a requirement of the chosen major.
  • Meet with a pre-health advisor periodically to discuss curricular decisions.
  • Maintain a high grade point average, particularly in the sciences, to improve chances of admission to graduate or professional school.
  • Develop strong computer, mathematics, and verbal and written communication skills.
  • Build strong relationships with professors and/or employers in order to secure strong recommendations.
  • Join related student organizations, such as Alpha Epsilon Delta, and assume leadership roles.
  • Obtain summer jobs, volunteer positions, or internships to test fields of interest and gain valuable experience.
  • Develop a back up plan in case medical/graduate school admission is denied.
  • Look at entrance requirements for desired institutions. Be aware of any standardized test requirements, minimum grade point averages, and prerequisites.
  • Talk to professionals already in your desired field regarding their backgrounds. Arrange a shadowing experience.
  • Join professional associations and community organizations to stay abreast of current issues in the field and to develop networking contacts.
  • Read scientific journals related to your area of interest.
  • Research accredited institutions. Check graduation rates, success rates on licensing exams, cost, location, etc. If possible, speak with current students

General Information

  • Develop a desire to help people of all backgrounds and ages including various races and socioeconomic groups.
  • Gain an understanding of the rigorous education and training required in the medical professions to ascertain your willingness to complete the required experiences.
  • Study the demands required by each of the medical fields. Many physicians work very long, irregular hours. Consider your tolerance for such a schedule.
  • All fields require licensure that is generally regulated by the state of residency.
  • Plan for a lifetime of learning to stay abreast of new trends in the field and to fulfill continuing education requirements for licensure.
  • In some medical fields, additional training is necessary for advanced research and administrative positions, university teaching, and independent research.
  • Some medical fields offer the opportunity for post doctoral experiences which can allow one to gain additional training or specialize in a particular area.

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Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
(2005) UTK is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA /ADEA Employer

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