Chasing the American Dream as a Dentist

Chasing the American Dream as a DentistChasing the Dream of DDS in USA

The dream of DDS in USA might feel like a borrowed idea from the generations before us, but young dentists like us realize how golden it still is. Although becoming financially independent, and building a new life in a different country sounds like a common endeavor nowadays. 

For DDS in USA and DMD aspirants, the whole journey is nothing short of a quest. Ranging from making this choice, securing a visa, and managing your funding; to preparing and giving the boards & Toefl. From building an extensive portfolio and securing interviews to preparing for them and the bench tests while figuring out the finances on the course- there are obstacles, challenges, hurdles, and pitfalls. This has driven people to go above and beyond in their efforts to secure a position in US Dental Schools. But, how achievable is this path for you; what are the things that you need to keep in mind before you embark on this journey and how do you make your final decision of doing so?

To make the answers to these questions lucid, we will break the entire process into 2 parts: Baby steps and Dinosaur steps. The only catch is that both steps are equally important for success; and with the right knowledge and guidance, absolutely achievable.

The Baby Steps are ones you have major control over and can achieve on your own terms. These can be the starting point for your preparation. These will provide you with the kick-start to get you cracking. 

  1. First and foremost, ask yourself, whether you truly believe that these are the opportunities you really want to pursue. Do you have the conviction and belief to both start as well as finish the race? It requires a mix of setting your goals high while also, keeping in touch with the reality of your resources. A good starting point is to go through the list of the academic requirements for the Caapid cycle and start figuring out their preparation and finances. With numerous resources online, a good amount of research on these can both cut down the expenses and improve the quality of the preparation.
  2. Analysis of the resources you already have at your disposal and their early utilization can help you build an impressive CV over time, preventing loads of work from bulking up at the end. This includes using the opportunities available at your current University/ workplace; participating in workshops/ conferences getting in touch with your professors/ peers/ colleagues and working on projects together. These measures can fit into your schedules and thus, giving you room to work on multiple things. 
  3. Get in touch with any acquaintances you might have in the U.S. (Family, friends, or college seniors) who’ve shared a journey similar to the one you are about to tread on i.e. either pursuing DDS currently or are working as dentists in the U.S. Such validated information will help you build your CV, write your essays, gather community service experience and prepare for shadowing opportunities even before you travel to give your boards or your interviews.

“There are no superheroes, just us. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

Shiza Shahid, Malala Fund

The Dinosaur Steps are the steps that’ll involve big moves and more planning in clearing them successfully. These will need time, research, and guidance. When life gives you lemons, trade them for clearing these.

  1. The biggest step is moving out of your comfort zone. The next is to move to a different country. This transition will provide a unique set of challenges for each one of us. From giving the dental boards and securing opportunities to shadow dentists here to preparing for the bench test and deciding what schools to apply to; awareness and research from online sources and knowledge of dentists actively participating in the process will make a key difference in figuring out the best way to accomplish all of the things mentioned above. 
  2. Financial planning alone – whether it would be for visa, travel, accommodation, application fees, or bench-prep materials- could be vast, and planning for how to fund them will be imperative for this journey. This will require learning about the different ways to obtain loans, the benefits of obtaining them in different countries, alternatives to a lack of a co-signer, etc. When worked out with adequate research, and help from your financial advisor well in advance; payable and manageable debts can be achieved.
  3. Keeping in touch with reality and staying ahead of your learning curve. Developing awareness and competence from the start seems like an easy choice, but sustaining that throughout this long journey will require active efforts. Awareness about the competition, costs, and efficiency while keeping an open mind about learning from mistakes, leaving your comfort zone, and seeking help & guidance can make all the difference in how resilient you are to stay the course. Self-criticism to ensure that your preparation for the boards/ Toefl/ Interview is thorough and whole-hearted will be key to translating your efforts into fruitful results. 

“The people who don’t give up are the people who find a way to believe in abundance rather than scarcity.”

As daunting as this process may seem, there is no better way to know whether you can achieve it, than by attempting it. By keeping in mind the steps you will have to clear; the work, time, and resources you will have to put into this journey; and the risk-to-benefit of it for your professional life; you can make a calculated decision of going for DDS/DMD in the U.S. Wholesome knowledge of the process, and planning of your work and efforts will help translate your vision into your reality. 

From the people who have done it before, to the people who are pursuing it at the moment; this can prove to be a life-changing decision in all possible ways, and it’s 100% up to you to achieve it.

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Author: Kavya

A fresh, 20-year-old dental surgery student from India, riddling the pathway to practicing dentistry in the States out.