Aug 15, 2022  
2021-2022 Catalog 
    
2021-2022 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Pre-Dentistry


Introduction

Western does not offer a “Pre-Dental” major, and there is no formula for getting into dental school. Selection committees evaluate applicants across multiple areas through a holistic review process. Important components include DAT scores, GPA (both cumulative and science), letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, community service, cultural competency, manual dexterity, and an interview, as well as background checks (including legal, conduct, and social media records).

Dental schools emphasize the importance of a liberal arts education and do not recruit students from one specific major or discipline. This gives you flexibility in planning your educational program. Use your undergraduate years to explore many academic fields, to develop basic skills and knowledge, to demonstrate expertise and to experience a field of study (major) of your choice. Dental school admission is competitive, so make every effort to maintain a strong GPA. Align with a major in which you both excel and enjoy. While Biology and Chemistry are popular choices, Pre-Dental students have majored in a diverse range of disciplines including Anthropology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Business, Kinesiology, Languages (i.e. Spanish), and Sociology. Some pursue combined majors such as Anthropology/Biology, Biochemistry, and Cellular & Molecular Biology.

 Contact Information

Pre-Dental Advisor
Anna Tognazzini
Assistant Director
Career Services Center
Old Main 280
360-650-4240
prehealth@wwu.edu

Pre-Dental Advisor
Erika Wiescher
Health Professions Advisor
Career Services Center
Old Main 280
360-650-4240
prehealth@wwu.edu

 Pre-Health Resources

wwu.edu/careers/prehealth.shtml

How to Indicate you are Pre-Dentistry:

Although Pre-Dental is not a major, the university maintains a record of students who have indicated their intention to pursue healthcare careers. In order to receive access to our Health Professions Advising Canvas site and advising that is relevant to your intended area, send an email to prehealth@wwu.edu with your name, W number, Western email address with “Pre-Dentistry” as the subject line.

Course Requirements


Regardless of major, certain prerequisite courses expected by most dental schools include:

Biology


Chemistry


Note: It is helpful if students begin general chemistry as early in their program as possible.

Mathematics


Physics


Other (non-science)


  • One year of English is highly recommended or required by some schools.
  • PSY 101  

Exposure and Experience


Advanced Placement

Check with individual schools whether they recognize Advanced Placement (AP) as college-earned credit. Not all do. It is better to view any earned credits as qualifying to enroll in upper division courses rather than as “testing out” of prerequisites.

Access to Classes

High demand exists for upper-division courses, especially in the sciences. Many departments grant enrollment priority to students declared in specific majors over those seeking enrollment for professional school purposes. Registration access procedures for impacted courses can change, and departments generally provide updates via their websites and email notifications, or by checking with the department’s program coordinator.

Repeating/Dropping Courses

When you repeat a course, only your most recent grade is used when Western calculates your GPA. However, the class still shows up on your transcript. Although some students think that repeating a course will help them get into professional schools, this is almost always untrue. Professional schools will take into account all college-level coursework when performing their own calculation of your GPA, and this will include any courses you have repeated at Western. Still, in some circumstances it may be appropriate to repeat a course so talk to an advisor to be sure. Also, dropping a course can have an impact on eligibility for financial aid, scholarships, and athletic participation so consider your options carefully and speak with an advisor before making a decision.

Shadowing

Dental shadowing/observation in the range of 50 to 100 hours is commonly required by most dental schools. This helps you gain exposure to the field and can possibly generate a professional letter of recommendation. For their first shadowing experience, students often ask a family friend, their own dentist, or someone with a personal connection to shadow. Many students have also had success calling local dental offices to ask whether they can shadow. Since dentists tend to run their own practices, they have the flexibility to allow shadowing. You may need to call several so don’t be discouraged if it takes some time. 

Community Service

The University of Washington requires a minimum of 50 hours. Working with individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds is essential. Your volunteer experience does not necessarily need to be healthcare related, but should be in something you are passionate about and interested in. Find experiences that allow you to serve your community and learn more about how to relate to others different from yourself. 

Research

Research experience is not required to develop a strong application for professional school, but can be a great way to enhance your application if you are interested. Many opportunities exist both on campus through individual departments and programs, and off campus. Contact your major department, or speak with a faculty member about participating in undergraduate research.

Letters of Recommendation

Western does not participate in a committee letter process for professional programs, so it is important for students to develop a good relationship with faculty members, supervisors and volunteer coordinators throughout their time as an undergraduate in order to have strong letters of recommendation.

Note: The above information is for preliminary advising purposes only. We encourage students to meet with a Health Professions Advisor on a regular basis to develop an individualized plan.