Has anyone made a the transition from dental to medicine?

Hello everyone. I am a dental hygienist and have finally made the decision to apply to med school. I will be taking the MCAT at the beginning of next year and applying to the early decision program at MUSC to start in 2014. My question is, I know that I am already not the traditional student, but will being in the dental field hurt my chances of getting into medicine?


Hello, and a very warm welcome to OPM! I have been on this site for a couple of years now, attended three OPM conferences, and have loved every minute of it all. I hope you find it to be as helpful and encouraging as I have.

And now, to your query …

I’m not in the dental field, but I will do my best to answer your question from my own perspective and knowledge: No, you are not a “traditional” student. None of us on this site are. We all come from different backgrounds in terms of education, work experience, age, family life, etc. It’s easy to think of that as a weakness, but in reality, our varied and sundry experiences are our strengths! They are what have made us who we are today, and what will make us successful, compassionate physicians in the future. I encourage you to think about how your past education and career contribute toward your goal of wanting to go into medicine, not detract from or distract from it. (I hope that makes sense.)

Yesterday, on my other Google blog (“My Bedside Manner”), I wrote a post - which I sincerely believe with all my heart - that “nothing is wasted.” Here is the link in case you want to read it: This I Believe: Nothing Is Wasted. You might find it encouraging. I know clinging to that belief has helped me through a great deal of turmoil and uncertainty.

I said I’m not in the dental field, which is true. My background is in writing and editing. But actually, the director of my former post-bac program (I just graduated in May) was a DDS prior to becoming an MD. So actually he was a non-traditional student as well. He is now an extremely successful, capable doctor (and he continues to practice medicine), as well as being director of a 100-student post-bac program. So dentistry -> medicine is definitely doable!

I hope this helps, and encourages you. Keep us posted on your progress! Best wishes.

  • Lorien

    P.S. I’m also taking the MCAT beginning of next year … when are you planning to take it? I’m thinking January. Just curious.

Hi Lorien,

Thank you for welcoming me and responding to my question. I really like your belief that nothing is wasted. I read your article on mybedsidemanner.com and it is both encouraging and brave. And I don’t regret the decision that I made to work in the dental field (originally I wanted to be a dentist) because I now know that the dental field is not where I want to be. And I never really thought of it as a negative, until I met with an admissions counselor at MUSC and she made the comment that, to her knowledge, they had never had a hygienist apply to med school. I’m glad to know that your former teacher went from being a DDS to a MD.

As for the MCAT, I am also planning on taking it in January because if I do not like my score, I will have time to retake it and still apply for early decision.

Thanks again,


PS— CONGRATS on your graduation!!!


Regarding “we’ve never had a dental hygeinist apply”… I thought my school might say that about nurse-midwives, but turns out I was their THIRD! Reams of massage therapists (not so much of a stretch for an osteopathic medical school - if they want to be a doctor its often the case that they want to be a DO. The president of my med school was a podiatrist, then went to med school and became a proctologist, and now he’s the president of a medical school. In my class we have army medics, PA’s, a mechanic from the US Olympic bike team, a Nascar mechanic, firefighters, elementary school teachers, college professors, nurses, a concert pianist, 2 pilots, etc, etc, etc. Non-traditional is…non-traditional. I concur with Lorien’s advice - that you consider what your path to here has contributed towards your eventual goal to become a physician - and concentrate on those positives!