Over winter break, Abigail Goldstein completed an externship at Pediatric Dental Associates in Ambler, PA and Philadelphia, PA with Dr. Kim Thomas ’92. She decided to participate in this externship because of her interest in a career in dentistry, but she never had the chance to shadow someone at a dental office. This was the perfect opportunity to get her foot in the door.
Abigail felt very prepared for the Extern application process since she had participated in the program last year. She proposes to utilize the Career and Professional Development office’s resources for polishing your resume whether it be an in-person meeting or through Handshake. When writing your essay, Abigail says to think about the most important things you’ve done during your collegiate career and to answer the prompt genuinely. Although she chose Pediatric Dental Associates as her top choice, Abigail also picked other externships involved in the medical field as backup. The junior prepared for her externship by making sure she knew what her sponsor expected of her and showing up prepared, dressed professionally with questions.
On her first day, Abigail sat in Dr. Thomas’s office and asked her questions about whatever she wanted to know. After a few hours, the day began to get busy. Most of her days consisted of observing Dr. Thomas during her appointments. When Abigail was in the Ambler office, she saw simple cleanings and fillings. At the Philadelphia office, she was able to sit in on oral surgeries. Her favorite aspect of the experience was her day spent at the surgical center since she got to be in the oral surgery room where the pediatric patients were getting their dental work done under anesthesia.
The most effective questions that the junior asked her sponsor were related to her career and family. Abigail also had the chance to talk to some resident students. Since they were more recently out of dental school, she asked them about the application process and important classes to take for dental school. Abigail recommends communicating with your sponsor via email to introduce yourself and suggest a phone call to go over logistics prior to the start of your externship. Following up with them is also a good idea. She followed up with her sponsor after the externship and Dr. Thomas is willing to have her in for more shadowing over the summer. In order to stay connected with your sponsor, Abigail suggests connecting with them on LinkedIn or sending frequent emails. “I learned a lot of valuable information not only from my sponsor, but also from her colleagues. Be open, have questions, and listen. It’s a great opportunity to see if this is really what you want to do with your life,” adds Abigail.
This experience reassured Abigail that she wants to pursue a career in dentistry and created an interest in specializing in pediatrics, which is something that she had not considered before. She learned that every day is different; some days are very busy while others are slow.
The Coolest Part of the Experience
The coolest part of the experience was her day spent at the Philadelphia office. This office not only sees regular patients for cleanings and fillings, but also has an operating room for larger surgeries. “This is obviously where the cooler cases are. It is also home to their residency program, so I was able to talk to residents about their journey through dental school and get advice from them,” explains Abigail.
Abigail advises other students participating in the Extern Program to come up with questions to ask your sponsor since they are an incredible resource to show you the ropes on how to get to where they are in their career. She would absolutely recommend this externship to anyone interested in the dental field.