How to Ask a Dentist to Shadow them in 2021

Becoming a dentist is no easy feat. A person has to study for several years, and then undergo rigorous testing to become a licensed dentist. Therefore, asking a dentist if you can shadow them is considered a very big compliment. It means that you re aware of how fantastic their job is, and how good they are at it. So much so that you want to know more about how it all works. However, asking a dentist if you can shadow them or not can be a little intimidating. Therefore, this article answers a simple question- how to ask a dentist if you may shadow them.

If you are already intimately acquainted with a dentist, then asking if you can shadow them is not that difficult for you. There will be no need for any formal introduction or anything of that sort. However, if you are someone with no prior connections to the world of dentistry, then this article is perfect for you! We will be covering two main ways that you can approach a dentist, along with a few tips to ensure a good shadowing day.

北京合众齿科总院的牙科医生看诊中~
Photographer: Bofu Shaw | Source: Unsplash

1. Cold calling vs. Asking in person

Depending on the situation, asking in person is the preferred option over cold calling. An example of “depending on the situation” can be the fact that the dentist you want to shadow practices a long drive away. However, even in such a situation, if you are capable of making the drive, make it. Travel to the dentists’ office and ask in person.

A. Benefits of asking in person

  • The fact that you physically showed up at the office to ask is a testament to your dedication and commitment.
  • It also means that you can have a personal conversation with the dentist and ask any questions or clear up any lingering confusion that you might have about the shadowing process.
  • You can leave an impression. The dentist may be busy and unable to meet you, but by showing up in person, you can communicate and connects with the staff there and leave a lasting impression.
  • You can showcase your professional side. Be sure to dress for the occasion in semi-formal clothes and remember to carry an updated resume with you.
  • You know that it is harder to say no to people in person. So if you ask in person, it is less likely that you will be rejected.

B. How to ask a dentist if you may shadow them politely in person

Here are three main scenarios that are likely to happen once you arrive at the dentist’s office. Here’s a guide on how to politely deal with any of them with ease and grace.

2. Greet the receptionist politely.

Before getting started with the scenarios- greet the receptionist politely. This is something that goes without saying. The receptionist is the one who will be relaying your message, so you want to have a good first impression on them. Be sure to sound confident and professional when you greet them. Start with a simple introduction of who you are and why you are visiting.

Scenario A- The dentist is busy with the patients.

The receptionist tells you that the dentist is busy with patients. Even if the dentist isn’t actually busy, there is not much you can do about it. Just hand over your resume with the receptionist, and be sure to point out your contact information. Ask the receptionist to get back to you and tell her that any day is good for you. Even if you have pre-scheduled events or tasks on a particular day, assure him/her that you would be willing to work around it. Simply put, ask the receptionist to get back to you whenever the dentist is available.

Scenario B- The dentist arrives to speak with you

This is when being dressed professionally and being equipped with your resume comes in handy. If you are lucky enough to encounter the dentist him/herself, then you have a few precious minutes to convince them. Preparing an elevator pitch from beforehand for such an occasion is, therefore, an excellent idea.

Your elevator pitch must consist of the following:

  • Your full name
  • Which college you are from and what your major is
  • If you are out of school, mention what you are currently doing.
  • Your purpose of the visit, i.e., ask for the shadowing opportunity.

Scenario C- You are informed that the dentist does not allow anyone to shadow him/her

This is a very real possibility. Therefore, it is always a good idea to shortlist at least two to three dentists whom you want to ask for an opportunity to be able to shadow them. Keep your options open. The dentist is entitled to declining your request irrespective of their reasoning. Don’t beat yourself up over it; this is something you cannot control. Politely accept the refusal, but leave your resume with the office just in case the dentist changes his/her mind.

3. How to ask a dentist if you can shadow them by cold calling their office

If this is the most feasible way for you to contact the dental office, then so be it. You will just have to improvise on the presentation tips given thus far so that you can leave a lasting over the phone. Being able to speak to the dentist himself directly is a very, very rare event—emphasis on the ‘very.’ So you will have to contend with the receptionist.

Start with a short, chaste introduction that includes a generic greeting such as “How are you?” and your name.

Make sure to clarify the fact that you are not calling for a dental appointment. Ask the receptionist if the dentist allows pre-dental students to shadow him/her, and state that you are interested in such an opportunity.

The next step is to offer to send over your resume. Cold calling should always be your second option because you were unable to travel to the offices physically. Therefore, it means that you won’t be able to deliver your resume personally, either. So, instead, politely offer to send over your resume.

The last step is to ask for a follow up when the dentist agrees to the shadowing request and notifies his staff of his availability.

4. Tips to having a great shadow day

  • If you are going to show up at the dentist’s office and personally ask for a shadowing opportunity, make sure to practice your elevator pitch beforehand.
  • Avoid calling the office during rush or break hours. Around mid-morning say, 10 am-11 am.
  • Be direct and to the point when talking to the receptionist over the phone. They have other patients to deal with and no time for idle chitchat.
  • Be aware of your schedule constraints, but try to be as flexible as possible. The worst thing would be having to call back and cancel. The dentist is helping you out, so remember to prioritize them.
  • Shadowing can take a toll both mentally and physically. So start with a half-day then work up to a full day.
  • Ask the receptionist how the office caters to a pre-dental student after the first shadow day is over. Ask him/her about what you should wear, where you should put your lunch, etc.

Asking a dentist if you can shadow them can be a little daunting. But practice beforehand and ask with confidence. Try to shadow a couple of different dentists to diversify your application and network. Dentists have once been in your position as a pre-dental student and would be flattered by the prospect of you wanting to shadow them.

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Category: Dentistry