Dental Schools are often looking for applicants who can demonstrate that they have good manual dexterity. This blog aims to shed some light on this area and highlight ways that you can develop your manual dexterity, indicate your skills in your personal statement and then show these skills at interview. Here is a four step process to show that you have the manual dexterity required to secure a place at dental school.
1. Understand What Manual Dexterity is
Manual Dexterity is the skill of using your hands to carry out a task skilfully and to a high level. It’s a skill developed through life as well as through a Dentistry degree. That’s why different Dental Schools place varying importance on it. It is useful to know how manual dexterity is applied in Dentistry such as in placing fillings, making dentures or removing calculus from the tooth surfaces – so do some research!
2. Develop Your Manual Dexterity Skills
If you don’t already have a hobby that involves manual dexterity it might be worth taking one up. This will give you an idea if you enjoy using your hands and also give you the chance to practice your skills. Examples of hobbies that involve manual dexterity are; playing a musical instrument, painting, creating models, stitching or knitting, building computer circuit boards and DT projects.
3. Highlight Manual Dexterity in Your Personal Statement
A good place to highlight your manual dexterity skills in your personal statement – either when you are talking about why you want to study Dentistry or in a section relating to your extracurricular activities. A key thing to remember to do is to reflect on your manual dexterity skills. You can speak about how you may have had to preserve and practice a skill that at first you found difficult. You could then relate this back to learning skills in Dentistry.
4. Demonstrate Manual Dexterity at Interview
Depending on the interview, you might be asked to directly demonstrate your manual dexterity by completing a task, or you may be posed a question about manual dexterity. Sometimes the interviewers may not ask you a direct question relating to manual dexterity at all!
If you are assigned a task, the key to completing it is to listen carefully to the instructions. Remeber to stay calm! Interviewers understand that you will be nervous, so they will not be expecting a perfect performance. They just want to see how well you do under pressure.
Questions relating to manual dexterity require you to speak about what you have done to develop your skills. This is where you can speak about your preparation and reflect on what you have learnt.
If interviewers do not ask directly about manual dexterity, you may be given a chance to show some examples of your skills at the end. If you have made anything showing your skills bring this with you. Alternatively, you can bring your manual dexterity into an answer for “Why do you want to study Dentistry?” or “What skills are important for a Dentist to have?”