Published on 12th October 2015 by Site Editor

Medicine or Dentistry? Are you choosing between them? The two can overlap to a certain degree.

Both careers have a strong basis in science, require knowledge of physiology, depend on interacting with patients and involves applying problem solving skills. With this in mind, it can be difficult to decide whether to study medicine or to study dentistry.

The following article aims to summarise the main aspects of dentistry that stand it apart from medicine and aid as a guide for those who are unsure as to which path to take.

  • Treating Patients Whilst Studying Dentistry – Whilst studying dentistry you will gain a lot of hands on experience working with patients. To start with training is done on a phantom head to gain the necessary skills and after progressing from this stage students are responsible for treating patients. A supervisor is present at all times but by the end of the degree students will be proficient at treating a variety of dental diseases.
  • Manual Dexterity – All dentists require developed manual dexterity skills. This is due to the fact that all dentists will be performing treatment in one area or another. This is something that can be developed to a certain degree, however you have to enjoy hands on work otherwise dentistry might not be the right career path for you. Within medicine it is possible to specialise in paths that do not require manual dexterity skills such as general practice.
  • Specialities – Unlike medicine, within dentistry it is not always necessary to specialise. After completing the dental foundation training year after your degree in dentistry it is possible to go straight into working as a general dental practitioner. If you want to specialise in a certain area of dentistry however, further training is required.
  • Job Control – To a certain extent within dentistry there is a greater degree of job control. This is due to the fact that there is the option within dentistry to run your own practice, although this is also possible in medicine the majority of doctors work in the NHS. This means that dentistry may appeal to those who also have an interest in business.
  • Work Experience – When in doubt of which career path to choose the best option is to complete a range of work experience in both fields. Often people underestimate the variety of roles available within dentistry and what is involved. In addition to this, a popular question asked at interviews is to express why you want to study dentistry rather than medicine and vice versa. It is useful to have work experience in both fields to answer this question and demonstrate that you understand the differences between the two fields of healthcare.

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