Happy AADSAS Opening Day! June 1st LET’S GO!
Edit: I need to include this here because it throws a major wrench into the screenshots I currently have of the AADSAS. Either this year or last year, the ADEA decided to upgrade the “look” of the AADSAS application, modernizing it and making the font, colors, and design of the website more contemporary. This doesn’t make it necessarily any easier, but is nicer on the eyes. All of the screenshots that I’ve embedded within the couple previous blog posts I’ve published are from the old application. I’m working on updating them to the new AADSAS screenshots, but it’ll take me a little bit. Thank you for your patience. Edits will be made in the coming days.
This post will only detail professional experience within the context of the AADSAS application (i.e. how to list it, what constitutes professional experience, etc.), a separate blog post will be specific to gaining said professional experience prior to even applying.
Under the new AADSAS application’s “Supporting Information” section, the following subsections exists: Evaluations, Experiences, Achievements, Licenses, and Personal Statement.
The old AADSAS had one section on “Professional Experience” with subsections: Academic Enrichment Programs, Awards, Honors & Scholarships (5 max), Dentistry/Shadowing Experience (10 max), Extracurricular, Volunteering, and Community Service (10 max), Research Experience (5 max), Work Experience (5 max).
Edit: Keep in mind that these so-called “max” numbers were valid for AADSAS applications prior to the 2017-18 cycle, so they may not be accurate. I will need to confirm these with an applicant later on. I recently learned that the Experience section’s categories are now “Academic Enrichment,” “Dental Shadowing,” “Employment,” “Extracurricular Activities,” “Research,” and “Volunteer.” Honors and Scholarships are now a separate section titled “Achievements.” There is a new section “Licenses” that allows you to add your dental hygiene or assisting license information, if applicable. However, all of the info below is still helpful.
Arguably one of the most important sections of the AADSAS a pre-dental student can fill, Experience is crucial. Many schools will also have a minimum shadowing requirement, typically calculated in number of hours, so it is wise to check with your designated schools, via website or ADEA Guide, ensuring you have fulfilled this threshold. Do your research, learning about each school’s requirements ahead of time will make completing the AADSAS exponentially simpler!
Edit 06/15/17: The new AADSAS Experience section is the umbrella term for employment, internships, and volunteer experiences. After experience entry, you may select up to 6 as your most important to highlight on your application PDF.
With the Experience subsection, you must include:
- Organization name and address
- Name of supervisor and optional contact information (phone or email)
- Position title (most often “shadow” or “dental assistant” will suffice)
- Type of dentistry observed (general dentistry? perio? ortho?)
- Brief description of activities/key responsibilities
- Average weekly hours
- Total number of hours
- Type of recognition (paid, volunteer, or received academic credit)
- Start month/year
- End month/year
I was a paid dental assistant. Does this still count?
Typically, the answer is yes, but again, check with individual schools.
Do I need to provide proof that I did all of this work?
No, the entire Professional Experience section of the AADSAS is all honor-based. Providing contact information of your supervisor or attending doctor is optional, however, internalize this advice early: never lie. A dishonest doctor is the worst doctor. During interviews, interviewers will test your knowledge based on the amount of experience hours you have stated on your AADSAS. In one interview, I chatted with a gruff, former Naval commander periodontist and one of his first requests from me was to name the steps of implant placement, directly alluding to the 80+ hours I listed shadowing a periodontist. I knew how to respond, thankfully, but no sooner came his next request, which was to name as many dental specialties as I could, hot seat-style. You never know what you’ll get out of an interview, but posts will come later.
This is new for the 2017-18 cycle: There is now an optional Release Authorization for every Experience you add. The Experience section now requests optional contact information for all Experiences added. I highly suggest you select “Yes” and allow for schools to reach out to your supervisors – it’s indicative of honesty and veracity of your application, just like the Letter of Evaluation release.
Is it fine to estimate total number of hours?
Yes, it is fine to estimate total number of hours for all sections, as sometimes exact numbers are not possible. Again, to reference the honor code applicants are held to in these sections, please make sure you are as close as possible to your legitimate numbers.
Does volunteering need to be dental-related?
Absolutely not. In fact, I found this subsection to be one of the few places on the AADSAS in which I could express the individuality of what I did during undergrad. This is a chance for you to flex your creativity and volunteer for organizations that you feel passionate about, beyond dental medicine or anything related to health, but I’m not saying dental experience would hurt. Personally, my dental volunteering included an annual day at Colorado Mission of Mercy (COMOM), a weekend of free dental care for Colorado’s underserved in a different city, every year (most states have something similar to this -insert state abbreviation-MOM is typically the way to search) and some time assisting at Kids in Need of Dentistry (KIND), but the vast majority of my volunteer work lay outside of anything dental-related. For example, I would volunteer to read books at elementary schools with my sorority and also give presentations about college and achieving goals to local high schools. I also volunteered at my school’s community soup kitchen.
How far back can I go?
This should go without saying, but do not include high school experience. Only include volunteer activities that you did whilst in college – admission committees want to know how you, the college student, handles the school-life balance.
Do I need research to be a competitive applicant?
No, but including it will boost your application, but not hinder you. I hear research is less of a factor with dental applicants than with medical school applicants. Above all, don’t do research if you absolutely hate pipetting and sitting in a lab, fine, but other research opportunities exist, including those involving field work and sociological study. Not everything is about microscopes and dark rooms!
Again, you do not need to streamline all of your college extracurriculars and experiences toward dentistry. You have incredible free will to take on whatever you please during your undergrad experience. It goes by fast. Enjoy the journey, not just the final destination. Looking back upon my own college experience, my heart grows heavy for the fond times I spent with my friends that I can never get back – you’re only young once, and my biggest piece of advice (besides APPLY EARLY) is to keep your mind open, try new things. I’ll end on a note that I once quoted during my feature on Humans of Colorado College (back in 2015):
“The Hippocratic oath that all healthcare providers swear by states, “do no harm.” Do no harm to yourself in limiting your own experiences at CC. Too many students are so rigid and determined to dive down a certain rabbit hole during their undergrad, and I was one of them. It’s refreshing to hear from prospective students (and first years!) that have no idea what they want to do, yet just know that whatever it is, they want to do it at CC. Stop and enjoy the faces and places around you – make plans, but don’t make promises to yourself or to anyone. Let life knock you around a bit and impart unexpected gifts in disguise.”
*This post is sponsored by Colorado ASDA
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