Interested in pursuing a specialty in orthodontics? Read below for an interview of my colleague, Dr. Katie Garrett, who is entering her orthodontics residency this fall! She provides some great advice for dental students who are considering ortho!
1. What general advice do you have for students interested in specializing in orthodontics?
I would advise to get some type of clinical ortho experience, whether that be shadowing, assisting in the summer at an ortho office, or volunteering free time in clinic—just to get the experience of what an actual orthodontist does on a day-to-day basis and make sure it’s in line with what you actually want to do. Confirming this as early as possible will allow you to focus your time and resources throughout dental school to make sure you can achieve that goal.
Research! Almost every ortho program (at least ones that are Masters programs) will require you to present a thesis, so they want to know you have experience doing research, even if it has nothing to do with ortho. D1 year I focused on academics as much as possible, but D2 year I did a lot of research before entering clinic when I knew my life would get a lot busier.
As a D3/D4, I would just dedicate as much time to assisting in the ortho clinic as possible. Getting to know the faculty, showing interest, and getting experience with patient care will only help with getting admitted into an ortho program.
4. What types of questions can students expect in their interview?
You can expect all of the typical questions (“tell me about yourself”, why orthodontics, strengths/weaknesses, etc.), but I also got some curve balls that are more just to keep you on your toes. They usually don’t ask many questions specifically about orthodontics because they’re not expecting you to know content yet. I did get a lot of questions about my research experience.
5. How can students set themselves apart from other candidates interested in orthodontics?
While most applicants will have smaller research projects to check off that part of the application, publications (especially if you are first or second author) will be impressive to them. Any research experience is better than none though, so don’t fret if that doesn’t seem doable to you. I have been an ortho assistant for the past 6 years where I work during my summers and school breaks. Some of my interviewers brought this up and seemed impressed that I already knew how to do a lot of orthodontic procedures, but other interviewers never even brought it up, so that can be hit or miss. They like to bring up things that are just overall unique to your applications, whether that is a hobby that you listed, an art award that you received, or something that you think won’t be found on many others applications. Obviously you don’t want to fib or exaggerate anything to make yourself look better, but don’t be afraid to add things that ‘make you you’ on your application, even if it’s not ortho related. Best of luck!!
I hope you enjoyed my interview with Katie! She dished out some insightful advice (which doesn’t surprise me…she’s an ortho rockstar)! Be sure to check out my other posts on AEGD vs. GPR, Peds Residencies, Perio Residencies, OS Residencies, and Endo Residencies.
Are you interested in specializing in ortho? How are you preparing for your future specialty? Comment below!