A medical internship is one way to build and grow your career. Dentistry is among the top medical careers you should go for if interested in health-related jobs. Being a broad career, you can choose a specialty where you get to perform some specific dentistry routines. You can choose to be a dentist, dental assistant, dental laboratory technician, or hygienist. All these careers are highly marketable.
For you to graduate in such health professions, most institutions require you to intern for a specific duration. Dental internships typically pack a lot of job- and non-job-related experiences. Here’s what to expect when completing an internship as a dental student.
1. Patient Handling
During dental internships, you handle real-life patients with various teeth issues. Your supervisors will teach you how to speak to patients once they walk through clinic doors. Remember, they might already be dreading the forthcoming procedure. According to research, 7% of Americans fear going to the dentist, probably because of previous dental experiences. For that reason, you must handle them with extreme skill to enhance their experience and calm their fears.
While on your internship, that’s when you can learn about the best practices. You must explain the typical procedures and assure patients that these will work. Also, you must train yourself to address issues in a professional yet friendly tone.
2. Performing Oral Procedures
You’re expected to observe the performance of oral procedures during the internship. Some primary duties you expect during your dental internship include:
- Tooth extraction
- Preparing patient for oral procedures
- Performing regular exams
- Providing dentists with tools of work as they carry out the procedure
Luckily, the better part of your internship will entail observing qualified dentists doing these procedures. Once the doctor gains confidence in your skills, they can delegate some light duties to you, but you’ll always be under supervision. Your host dentists understand too well that you’re still making baby steps in your dentistry career.
3. Lessons on Proper Handling of Dental Equipment
A dental clinic most probably has equipment you’ve only seen in books. While on a dental internship, you’ll get to use such special equipment. Mishandling tools can be dangerous to a patient. You may end up causing more pain instead of treating their ailments. So, pay undivided attention while your colleagues tutor you in equipment handling.
Aside from physical equipment, you’ll also learn other critical aspects like hygiene. You can enroll in dental hygiene internship programs if this is your specialty. Hygiene is crucial in maintaining oral health; you must master it.
4. Career Enlightenment
Getting first-hand experience with your desired specialty may help you decide on a career path. Students may often choose specific dental disciplines without clearly understanding what they entail.
On-the-job exposure during your internship will give you deeper insight into the dentistry field you’d like to specialize in. You can interact with a qualified dentist and their assistants who might shed light on your career path. By completing the program, you can decide what path to pursue, guided by facts.
Some institutions offer paid dental internships for college students. A quick search online can help you land such an internship. Getting rewarded for your efforts is a sure morale-booster. Remember, you spend energy and money to get to the workplace and stay the whole day. Think of transport costs, accommodation, and meals. So, you deserve some pay, perhaps the very first you’ll get in your career.
However, some dental clinics don’t pay interns. If this is the case, try to understand that your primary purpose is to gain exposure and not work as a full-time team member.
6. Constructive Feedback
Don’t expect to be perfect in everything you do. You’re still fresh in the industry and may falter here and there. So, anticipate a lot of feedback from your supervisors. Your winning point is taking corrections positively and striving to improve on the highlighted matters. That goes a long way to endearing yourself to your colleagues as a collaborative person, which might earn you a job later.
7. Office Politics
Like it or not, every workplace has politics. Being part of the team, you may be dragged into an issue or two. It’d be best to take a neutral stand on everything because you’re there for only a few months. Don’t invest all your emotion. It may compromise your experience and learning.
8. Idle times, Odd Jobs
As an intern, your schedule may not be as packed as a full-time dentist. You’re primarily an observer, so you may not have specific duties to handle from morning to evening. As such, prepare yourself psychologically for idle times. You can find ways to keep busy by interacting with various professionals or reading dentistry-related literature.
Likewise, you may find yourself doing odd jobs unrelated to dentistry. The host may ask you to do some data entry, pay bills, take photocopies, and others. Don’t be bothered by such. After all, it’s healthy to be active as you wait for the core business of the day.
Dental internships allow you to gain first-hand experience with patients. Also, you’ll network with industry professionals, which may help you gain employment in the future. Remember to take it easy as you’re still learning. It may or may not be according to your expectations, depending on the institution you intern at. Nonetheless, focus on your primary purpose of being there, such as learning.