Is dentistry worth it? Should I change my degree? Watch

musli-cat
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I'm currently in the first year of dentistry but have been doubting my decision about pursuing this degree.

I have given my reasons below but was wondering if there are any dentists/clinical dental students out there who could give there opinion on the profession:
do you enjoy the work? does the monotony get boring eventually? Is the lifestyle really what it's made out to be? would you do it again or do another degree?


Since before I began the course I was never particularly excited about starting dentistry and was wondering about whether I should do it. But since I put so much effort into applying and was so determined to get in I didn't want to regret not taking the offer as it's such a competitive course.

However the problem is I don't really know what I want to do with my life. I picked the course as a safe option with good job prospects, salary, that I thought I would find relatively interesting and that would give me free time to spend with my family and on hobbies. Before I thought if I didn't like the job it would be well paid enough for me to support myself part time and try something else. But now I'm wondering if it was a mistake to pick something so specialised as what else could I move into?

I'm now wondering if it would have been better to pick a different, less specialised course and enjoy more free time at uni with a wider variety of career options at the end. But I keep thinking I may just end up in the same situation - on a course I'm not sure of but with worse job prospects.
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orange.bananna
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(Original post by musli-cat)
I'm currently in the first year of dentistry but have been doubting my decision about pursuing this degree.

I have given my reasons below but was wondering if there are any dentists/clinical dental students out there who could give there opinion on the profession:
do you enjoy the work? does the monotony get boring eventually? Is the lifestyle really what it's made out to be? would you do it again or do another degree?


Since before I began the course I was never particularly excited about starting dentistry and was wondering about whether I should do it. But since I put so much effort into applying and was so determined to get in I didn't want to regret not taking the offer as it's such a competitive course.

However the problem is I don't really know what I want to do with my life. I picked the course as a safe option with good job prospects, salary, that I thought I would find relatively interesting and that would give me free time to spend with my family and on hobbies. Before I thought if I didn't like the job it would be well paid enough for me to support myself part time and try something else. But now I'm wondering if it was a mistake to pick something so specialised as what else could I move into?

I'm now wondering if it would have been better to pick a different, less specialised course and enjoy more free time at uni with a wider variety of career options at the end. But I keep thinking I may just end up in the same situation - on a course I'm not sure of but with worse job prospects.
Have you spoken to your family about this? Or if you don't want to initially talk to them is there anyone at uni you can talk to - do you have a personal tutor?
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musli-cat
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(Original post by orange.bananna)
Have you spoken to your family about this? Or if you don't want to initially talk to them is there anyone at uni you can talk to - do you have a personal tutor?
Yes I have but it hasn't helped that much as they just told me they think I should just stick with the degree and I don't really know how much insight they could give as none of them are dentists.

I don't want to talk to my personal tutor as they're from the dental department and since the course is such that I'll be in close contact with dental lecturers at uni once the clinical part of it starts I'd rather they not know if I decide to stay on the course.
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Aelith
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I think this really depends on you. You can't relie on others, as not everybody has the Same point of view. People will advise you to stay in the course for instance because they like the idea that dentistry is an art while others don't like to deal with their hands and thus don't like dentistry.
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muchomungo
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(Original post by musli-cat)
I'm currently in the first year of dentistry but have been doubting my decision about pursuing this degree.

I have given my reasons below but was wondering if there are any dentists/clinical dental students out there who could give there opinion on the profession:
do you enjoy the work? does the monotony get boring eventually? Is the lifestyle really what it's made out to be? would you do it again or do another degree?


Since before I began the course I was never particularly excited about starting dentistry and was wondering about whether I should do it. But since I put so much effort into applying and was so determined to get in I didn't want to regret not taking the offer as it's such a competitive course.

However the problem is I don't really know what I want to do with my life. I picked the course as a safe option with good job prospects, salary, that I thought I would find relatively interesting and that would give me free time to spend with my family and on hobbies. Before I thought if I didn't like the job it would be well paid enough for me to support myself part time and try something else. But now I'm wondering if it was a mistake to pick something so specialised as what else could I move into?

I'm now wondering if it would have been better to pick a different, less specialised course and enjoy more free time at uni with a wider variety of career options at the end. But I keep thinking I may just end up in the same situation - on a course I'm not sure of but with worse job prospects.
Ok, I'll answer your questions as honestly as possible. They're my opinions based on what I know and my experiences. What you're talking about is a huge decision so you'll have to think it through carefully.

Do I enjoy the work...not really. It's nice to have a pleasant patient you can chat with and help but really (I'm talking about general practice here)...it's a pretty boring job at times. It's very very stressful as well. It can be nice to help people though and do a decent piece of work for them. But it is very repetitive.

Your reasons for choosing the profession are the same as mine were and the vast majority of people. The trouble, UK dentistry is in a desperately sorry state right now.
It's so dependent on government contracts, The BDS is almost on the verge of becoming a semi-defunct degree in a few years time. They may give most NHS work to dental therapists and demand that you do loads of extra training in order to do what dentists have always done. It's like a never ending pyramid scheme.
It's not that well paid for the length of training and stress (+ fees). The working hours are often long, especially if you have to work in the evening. It's not a very stable job anymore as there's so many dentists looking for work who could replace you. You're self employed in most cases. That means you have very few employment rights (e.g. unfair dismissal). A practice owner doesn't need a reason to fire you. They just need to give you notice. It's a practice owners market. Ten years ago there was a shortage of dentists. Now there's way too many for it to be lucrative in the way it was. It depends on the practice. It's highly competitive to get a decent job in many parts of the country. If you want to work in the South East, you're going to be disappointed.

It is very specific. It does close off other avenues in a way that other courses do not. If I could go back in time I would probably do something else, I'm just not sure what.
I wouldn't worry that you don't know what you want to do in life. Most people don't and if they do, they'll change their minds. Keeping you options open isn't a bad idea.
The problem with dentistry is that it's deceptive from day one. The training is long and complicated and bears very little resemblance to the job years down the line. The course was mostly interesting (if v. stressful). The job is not, I've found. You won't know whether you'll enjoy it or not until you're doing it as a dentist.
It really does seem as if no one cares about young dentists and the investment they've made in this profession. Clinical training in uni is poor and you have to learn almost everything on the job. They lie to you at uni and make you think you'll be loaded. You won't.

If you really like clinical work I'd say switch to medicine. For those that scoff at that idea...you have lots of options as a doctor. As a dentist you don't. If you don't believe me, go to your uni library and look at the jobs section in the British Medical Journal. Then go and look at the section in the British Dental Journal. I rest my case.

Incidently, the 1st year of dental school is very academic and dry so I'm not surprised you didn't enjoy it. It bears no resemblance to the later clinical years. That's my opinion, see what some other people say who know the job and make a decision. You're not far into it, no one's going to think less of you if you decide its not for you.
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ledleyking123
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How much are dentists making these days I thought it was loads???
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Zarek
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So, not a dentist but have been through uni and a fair bit of experience of world at work. I would say that if you are confident that it will not be an enjoyable career for you, then change now - career is so important to enjoy and it will never be easier to change. But also worth mentioning that all well paid jobs are demanding and I do not think there is an easy way to earn a living, so also reflect before changing from something which has been hard won about what would be better. I'm sure that a dentistry degree would also be a gateway in to other management paths if you wanted to change after some practice. Good luck.
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muchomungo
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(Original post by ledleyking123)
How much are dentists making these days I thought it was loads???
Average associate on the NHS makes £40-60K a year. A few dentists make substantially more but they are in the minority.
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PPPLLL
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(Original post by musli-cat)
I'm currently in the first year of dentistry but have been doubting my decision about pursuing this degree.

I have given my reasons below but was wondering if there are any dentists/clinical dental students out there who could give there opinion on the profession:
do you enjoy the work? does the monotony get boring eventually? Is the lifestyle really what it's made out to be? would you do it again or do another degree?


Since before I began the course I was never particularly excited about starting dentistry and was wondering about whether I should do it. But since I put so much effort into applying and was so determined to get in I didn't want to regret not taking the offer as it's such a competitive course.

However the problem is I don't really know what I want to do with my life. I picked the course as a safe option with good job prospects, salary, that I thought I would find relatively interesting and that would give me free time to spend with my family and on hobbies. Before I thought if I didn't like the job it would be well paid enough for me to support myself part time and try something else. But now I'm wondering if it was a mistake to pick something so specialised as what else could I move into?

I'm now wondering if it would have been better to pick a different, less specialised course and enjoy more free time at uni with a wider variety of career options at the end. But I keep thinking I may just end up in the same situation - on a course I'm not sure of but with worse job prospects.
Please take this post with a pinch of salt. This is my story.

I was in the exact same situation as you last time. I applied to dental school in Ireland and got in. After finishing first year, I decided to quit. Shocking, right? Similarly, I went into dentistry thinking that I would be able to earn lots of money and gain a lot of respect from my family and friends. I didn't really like the profession at all. I absolutely hated learning anatomy and dental anatomy and I did not like the feeling of being in a hospital. I was truly and I mean truly depressed there. I can remember myself crying on my bed in my room, thinking to myself I can't believe that this is happening to me. I felt like I was trapped in a dog cage. I stuck it out in dental school for a year because I promised my family I would give it a go and it was torture. I probably cried to my parents like 3 times. Wow I sound like a loser back then. Anyways, my grades in first year were mediocre. I did complete rubbish in the dentistry related topics (dental anatomy) but did quite well for the others such as Biochemistry and Health economics and so on.

So toward the end of first year, I realised that the best decision for me is to drop out and do something less specialised than Dentistry because I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life back then. I reapplied through UCAS and I am currently doing a bachelors in biochemistry with management at Imperial College London. I am happy to say that yours truly is doing much better here than I was at dental school. For me, I have chosen to study this course because I am fascinated with both subjects and that I am able to have the best of both words as I am studying both science and commerce-related subjects. Thus, I am not restricted to just one thing.

My advice for you:
1. Follow your heart. If you feel like Dentistry is not for you, please don't force yourself to stay on the course. It will only get harder in the future and there is no point for you to go through 5 years of dental school, just to do something else besides becoming a dentist after you graduate.

2. If you feel like money and job security is a major factor in your life and that if there is no other alternative course you feel that you can get onto, then by all means, stick to Dentistry. Even with all the things I have just said, it is still a rewarding career.

3. If you really want to drop out, PLEASE find a course that interests you and STICK with it. Also, use your time at university to explore the different careers out there. Join as many clubs as you can and apply for as many internships as you can whether it's investment banking or research or teaching or whatever. Luckily, at Imperial, the opportunities here are really good.

In conclusion, take control of your destiny and do whatever it takes to make you happy because it is not worth being miserable but you need to weigh in your options REALLY CAREFULLY and devise a structured plan of what you want to do with you life from now on!

much love
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ledleyking123
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(Original post by muchomungo)
Average associate on the NHS makes £40-60K a year. A few dentists make substantially more but they are in the minority.
Sorry what level is an associate 60k is a lot man
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musli-cat
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(Original post by PPPLLL)
Please take this post with a pinch of salt. This is my story.

I was in the exact same situation as you last time. I applied to dental school in Ireland and got in. After finishing first year, I decided to quit. Shocking, right? Similarly, I went into dentistry thinking that I would be able to earn lots of money and gain a lot of respect from my family and friends. I didn't really like the profession at all. I absolutely hated learning anatomy and dental anatomy and I did not like the feeling of being in a hospital. I was truly and I mean truly depressed there. I can remember myself crying on my bed in my room, thinking to myself I can't believe that this is happening to me. I felt like I was trapped in a dog cage. I stuck it out in dental school for a year because I promised my family I would give it a go and it was torture. I probably cried to my parents like 3 times. Wow I sound like a loser back then. Anyways, my grades in first year were mediocre. I did complete rubbish in the dentistry related topics (dental anatomy) but did quite well for the others such as Biochemistry and Health economics and so on.

So toward the end of first year, I realised that the best decision for me is to drop out and do something less specialised than Dentistry because I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life back then. I reapplied through UCAS and I am currently doing a bachelors in biochemistry with management at Imperial College London. I am happy to say that yours truly is doing much better here than I was at dental school. For me, I have chosen to study this course because I am fascinated with both subjects and that I am able to have the best of both words as I am studying both science and commerce-related subjects. Thus, I am not restricted to just one thing.

My advice for you:
1. Follow your heart. If you feel like Dentistry is not for you, please don't force yourself to stay on the course. It will only get harder in the future and there is no point for you to go through 5 years of dental school, just to do something else besides becoming a dentist after you graduate.

2. If you feel like money and job security is a major factor in your life and that if there is no other alternative course you feel that you can get onto, then by all means, stick to Dentistry. Even with all the things I have just said, it is still a rewarding career.

3. If you really want to drop out, PLEASE find a course that interests you and STICK with it. Also, use your time at university to explore the different careers out there. Join as many clubs as you can and apply for as many internships as you can whether it's investment banking or research or teaching or whatever. Luckily, at Imperial, the opportunities here are really good.

In conclusion, take control of your destiny and do whatever it takes to make you happy because it is not worth being miserable but you need to weigh in your options REALLY CAREFULLY and devise a structured plan of what you want to do with you life from now on!

much love
Thanks, this really helps I was just wondering if you could tell me how you went about reapplying in case I decide dentistry isn't for me?

Did you have to essentially take a gap year after 1st year to reapply through UCAS? Would you use a reference from your old school or would universities expect a lecturer/personal tutor from the university you left to write one? Or should you avoid the fact that you dropped out of a course altogether?
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Hippysnake
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I can sort of relate. But I'm a lot further into my degree . Oh well, just gotta hope this is a bump in the road and all will be well!
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RedArrow
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You won't be a good dentist even if you miraculously get your degree FACT
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musli-cat
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(Original post by muchomungo)
Ok, I'll answer your questions as honestly as possible. They're my opinions based on what I know and my experiences. What you're talking about is a huge decision so you'll have to think it through carefully.

Do I enjoy the work...not really. It's nice to have a pleasant patient you can chat with and help but really (I'm talking about general practice here)...it's a pretty boring job at times. It's very very stressful as well. It can be nice to help people though and do a decent piece of work for them. But it is very repetitive.

Your reasons for choosing the profession are the same as mine were and the vast majority of people. The trouble, UK dentistry is in a desperately sorry state right now.
It's so dependent on government contracts, The BDS is almost on the verge of becoming a semi-defunct degree in a few years time. They may give most NHS work to dental therapists and demand that you do loads of extra training in order to do what dentists have always done. It's like a never ending pyramid scheme.
It's not that well paid for the length of training and stress (+ fees). The working hours are often long, especially if you have to work in the evening. It's not a very stable job anymore as there's so many dentists looking for work who could replace you. You're self employed in most cases. That means you have very few employment rights (e.g. unfair dismissal). A practice owner doesn't need a reason to fire you. They just need to give you notice. It's a practice owners market. Ten years ago there was a shortage of dentists. Now there's way too many for it to be lucrative in the way it was. It depends on the practice. It's highly competitive to get a decent job in many parts of the country. If you want to work in the South East, you're going to be disappointed.

It is very specific. It does close off other avenues in a way that other courses do not. If I could go back in time I would probably do something else, I'm just not sure what.
I wouldn't worry that you don't know what you want to do in life. Most people don't and if they do, they'll change their minds. Keeping you options open isn't a bad idea.
The problem with dentistry is that it's deceptive from day one. The training is long and complicated and bears very little resemblance to the job years down the line. The course was mostly interesting (if v. stressful). The job is not, I've found. You won't know whether you'll enjoy it or not until you're doing it as a dentist.
It really does seem as if no one cares about young dentists and the investment they've made in this profession. Clinical training in uni is poor and you have to learn almost everything on the job. They lie to you at uni and make you think you'll be loaded. You won't.

If you really like clinical work I'd say switch to medicine. For those that scoff at that idea...you have lots of options as a doctor. As a dentist you don't. If you don't believe me, go to your uni library and look at the jobs section in the British Medical Journal. Then go and look at the section in the British Dental Journal. I rest my case.

Incidently, the 1st year of dental school is very academic and dry so I'm not surprised you didn't enjoy it. It bears no resemblance to the later clinical years. That's my opinion, see what some other people say who know the job and make a decision. You're not far into it, no one's going to think less of you if you decide its not for you.
Thank you for your reply! This helps a lot and a lot of what you said relates to why I'm thinking of leaving.

I've found it particularly disheartening that I already have heard several lecturers saying that we'll be rich and yet I don't hear many more positives mentioned. Most of what I've heard is them telling us how strict the GDC is, how the profession has the earliest retirement rate, stress, watching what we put on social media sites etc.

I don't think I'd want to change to medicine however. Somehow none of the health professions ever attracted me apart from dentistry and now I'm wondering if I should have taken that as a sign that I should have pursued something else.
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musli-cat
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(Original post by RedArrow)
You won't be a good dentist even if you miraculously get your degree FACT
That is also in fact another reason I've been thinking of changing my degree, if I'm going to be a dentist I want to be a good one - helping people is one of the reasons I picked the profession and I don't want to be in that position if I lack the motivation to pursue my studies properly.

Which is why I'm trying to find out as soon as possible whether I want to do it or not.
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musli-cat
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(Original post by Hippysnake)
I can sort of relate. But I'm a lot further into my degree . Oh well, just gotta hope this is a bump in the road and all will be well!
I hope things work out for you

Would you mind me asking what year you're in and how you're finding the degree in general? I'm guessing you've started the clinical aspect of your degree, does it get any better since then?
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RedArrow
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(Original post by musli-cat)
That is also in fact another reason I've been thinking of changing my degree, if I'm going to be a dentist I want to be a good one - helping people is one of the reasons I picked the profession and I don't want to be in that position if I lack the motivation to pursue my studies properly.

Which is why I'm trying to find out as soon as possible whether I want to do it or not.
Hey... My sister is a dentist. In her second year, she also went thru a phase where she hated dentistry. Try to rub it off. Everything is interesting, tbh. Good Luck
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eddydentist
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I would say have a chat to your tutors but stick with it. Dentistry out in the big wide world bears little relation to that done as an undergraduate.
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Snooz
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This is surely the nightmare scenario of students everywhere, I'm sorry to hear you've begun to doubt.

Like some of the others have said, if you really aren't sure about it, don't do it. Unless you win the lottery, the one constant element in your life is going to be your work, so to be miserable with it is a disaster beyond measure. You're still in the first year, if you can find something else you'd rather do, now is the best time you're going to have to do it.

Best of luck to you!
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PPPLLL
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(Original post by musli-cat)
Thanks, this really helps I was just wondering if you could tell me how you went about reapplying in case I decide dentistry isn't for me?

Did you have to essentially take a gap year after 1st year to reapply through UCAS? Would you use a reference from your old school or would universities expect a lecturer/personal tutor from the university you left to write one? Or should you avoid the fact that you dropped out of a course altogether?
Hi again! Well for me it was a slightly complicated process. My urge of switching courses/universities started in early December of my first year. During Christmas break, I wasted no time and started another UCAS application and actually written a new personal statement as well as informed my old school that I am reapplying again. But at that time, I haven't actually dropped out of Dentistry yet.

I did all of that to basically save time from taking a gap year after Dentistry. By reapplying through UCAS earlier, I had the chance of starting my new course right after the summer break after completing Dentistry first year.

To answer your question of whether or not you should write on your UCAS application that you dropped out is entirely up to you I feel. For me, I was completely honest when I did my application. I wrote on my personal statement that I left Dentistry (note: I haven't actually dropped out at the time yet...haha) because I wish to keep my career options out there more open and that Dentistry is too specialised of a course. Besides that, I wrote that during Dentistry, I realised that I was interested in other things (e.g. biochemistry, economics, cell biology) and wish to pursue that in the future. I reassured the universities that I am willing to work hard the next time around.

Only two of the five universities actually asked for my first year grades. I reluctantly gave it to them because my results were so average, like less than 60% Thankfully, Imperial accepted my transcript and gave me an offer. I was pleasantly surprised at that. Overall, I got 4/5 acceptances even when I noted on my personal statement I quitted Dentistry.

There is no need for you to tell them. It was just a personally choice for me. They might be curious about what you did during the (gap) year (aka your first year of dentistry). But I guess you could say that you did something else.

Anyways I just realised that the deadline for 2014 entry is due on the 15th of January next year for most courses. If you want to submit a new app for UCAS, you really need to get working on your new personal statement ASAP. But it really depends on whether or not you want to stay in the same university or not. Do you want to switch to another university? If not, you could just ask you tutor on whether or not you can transfer to another course at the same university. It's up to you.
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