One of the most common questions at Dental Interviews is “Why Dentistry, not Medicine?”, and it is very important that you are prepared for this question. The trouble with that is that most candidates will over-prepare. Their answer will sound rehearsed and too robotic. Examiners do not like this at all, and it will not set a good impression for the rest of your interview.
So how do you answer this question? Let’s take a look
Firstly, it is worth noting that this question, along with many other questions of the same topic, are covered in great detail in our Interview Package. Our Admissions Specialists will give you excellent examples of how to tackle this question, and show you what makes the answer so good. They also look at answers which are below average, and teach you how to avoid the common mistakes.
It is important to be fully prepared for this question. Your preparation should start with your research before you apply to dentistry. You should try to undertake as much varied work experience as you can in order to fully understand and answer the question. We highly recommend that you explore work experience outside of dentistry, alongside the minimum requirements of dental work experience, too.
This additional work experience can be in any sector or line of work, but of course, if it is in the medical field (eg a GP Surgery), then you will be better equipped to answer this tricky question.
If you are struggling to find appropriate work experience, don’t hesitate to contact our Admissions Specialists who can assist you in finding work experience.
Understanding the Question
The next step in successfully answering this question is to understand what they are actually asking. Dentistry and medicine are very closely linked, and arguably, overlap quite a lot in the healthcare sector. Therefore, the question wants to know whether or not the candidate is able to differentiate between the two careers. You must input your own opinions and experiences (from work experience or talking to dentists/doctors) and have a strong and valid reasoning.
How to answer “Why Dentistry, not Medicine?”
The question can be answered in a number of ways. How you answer the question is completely down to you and your personality. Answer the question in a way which makes you feel comfortable and confident. There is no right or wrong answer, so examiners want to see if you can justify your opinion and also demonstrate a passion and enthusiasm for dentistry.
- You can decide to answer the question by explaining what unique feature of dentistry stood out for you and made you want to Become A Dentist. What unique benefits does Dentistry have that Medicine does not? Why might someone want to be a dentist instead of a doctor? What have you seen at work experience that proves this?
RED FLAG: one obvious and very common answer to this is that “dentists can use their hands everyday and it requires a lot of manual dexterity, which a career in medicine does not”. We strongly advise you to use a lot of caution if you use this answer. It is not strictly true: if dentists decide to pursue a career in research, they will use little or no manual dexterity, whereas a cardiac surgeon would be using manual dexterity every single day. Therefore, if you use this phrase as an answer, be ready to elaborate and justify what you have said. Many examiners will catch candidates out this way
- You can also answer the question by explaining a negative side of medicine that dentistry does not have. Again, you should use a lot of care if answering this way. Because you don’t wait to insult medicine as a career. Your aim should be to show the positives of dentistry and why it appeals to you, rather than the negatives of medicine.
Example: “I want to study dentistry rather than medicine because, in my opinion, dentistry is an extremely focused microcosm of medicine. Dentists have the ability to almost be ‘specialists of the oral cavity’, whereas much of medicine comprises a very brief overview of a lot of wide and varying topics. I have always enjoyed learning and studying subjects in great detail, rather than just gaining a vague overview. I believe that as clinicians, we can be better equipped to help our patients if we focus on one area in particular.”
As you will read, this is a fairly decent answer. The candidate explains why they prefer dentistry over medicine, and links it back to themselves. They say that they enjoy learning the tiny details of subjects. An examiner would like counter-argue the point that medicine has sub-specialities such as ophthalmology or endocrinology, which are extremely niche, too. The candidate therefore needs to be prepared to answer this valid counterpoint, too.
Prepare for follow-up questions
When preparing for “why Dentistry, not Medicine?” it is always a good idea to practice your answer with a family member or friend. Get them to ask you follow-up questions that will put you under pressure (see above). Your answers to follow-up questions will determine whether the examiners will be impressed with you or not
Some Possible Answers:
Become A Dentist has briefly outlined some possible answers to “why Dentistry, not Medicine?”. However, in order to fully discover the knowledge and depth of the answer, we recommend you visit our Interviews Package or discuss it with our Admissions Specialists today.
Our Admissions Specialists also run live Q&A sessions on social media, which you can find HERE.
- Manual Dexterity is required more for a general dentist than for a general doctor (GP).
- Dentists will have the opportunity to learn hands-on and treat their own patients whilst learning. Medics, unfortunately, spend a lot of time observing and learning the theory
- It is not always necessary for dentists to specialise.
- There is significantly greater job control in Dentistry than medicine (hours you work, days you work etc)
- To find out more, visit our Interviews Package to unlock
Become A Dentist