Through: Savannah Craig
Applying for dental residency programs is similar in many ways to applying to a dental school.
First, you need to narrow down your list of programs. Then you have to start your application on a centralized portal (ADEA-PASS) and collect your application materials. Finally, you will interview several programs before making a decision about where to go.
However, experiences with residency programs and their application timelines are not as standardized as dental school applications, which can make applying for a dental residency more confusing without someone helping you through it.
GPR vs AEGD
Dental residencies for general dentists are referred to as General Practice Residency (GPR) or Advance Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) programs.
In general, GPR programs focus on medical management of patients and are typically associated with a hospital. While AEGD programs focus on clinical dentistry and can be associated with academic institutions.
However, during my research for my own residency application, I found the line between GPR and AEGD designation blurred. Personally, I would not recommend choosing a program based on this title.
The best way to determine which programs to sign up for is to contact the programs and get specific details of their current residents. This is especially important if you want to gain specific experience during a residency.
Find a GPR or AEGD program
If you’re just starting your research on residency programs and don’t know where to start, it can be overwhelming.
I started using the ADEA website to find a full list of postgraduate programs.
I’ve narrowed my search down to locations I’d like to move to for a one-year program. I spoke to senior classes and tried to make a list of programs that offered experiences or opportunities that I was most interested in. I then contacted program directors via email and expressed my interest in their programs, listing details about their programs that got me excited, and asking to contact their current residents.
Lucky for you, IgniteDDS has done some of that legwork for you with their Free Residency guide!
It’s a great resource to get you thinking about what you want from a program, and has collected information on over 70+ programs to save you the hassle of reaching out!
The application process for ADEA PASS
Once you know where to apply, it’s time to start with you PASS application†
It is very similar to your Dental School application. You list extracurricular activities you have participated in and leadership positions you have held, and submit a personal statement.
It may be tempting to reuse your personal statement from your dental school applications, but I would advise against it. You have grown, changed and learned a whole new set of skills in the last 4 years. It’s time to showcase these programs that will set you apart from other dental students applying.
It’s important to emphasize why you chose these programs, but it’s also important to show them why they want you on their team. Writing a good personal statement can take time, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to write and revise it before your application due dates!
Letters of Recommendation
Your application must also include letters of recommendation. I tried to find recommendations that knew me in different environments and that could give the programs a good idea of who I am.
Brainstorm about people who know you well and who want to write you a recommendation. Be sure to give them plenty of notice so they aren’t in a rush to submit it before your due dates. Once your recommendations have been submitted, be sure to send a thank you note to your recommendations and keep them updated throughout your application process!
Interviewing for a residency program
The interview process for residency programs is unique depending on whether you chose to apply for MATCH or non-MATCH programs. Non-MATCH programs work more on an ongoing admissions process. It is not uncommon to apply to a program and be offered a job before applying to your other programs.
It’s important to have an idea of which programs are your top picks and to think through different scenarios based on how interviews are offered. Be honest with yourself and the programs you’re applying to. Don’t be afraid to ask for more time for a decision if you need it, but don’t hold onto a position that can be offered to someone else if you don’t intend to accept.
Next: Why You Should Consider a General Dentistry Residency Program
photo by Andrea Piacquadio