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FAQ: Should I Attend an International Dental School to Save Time?

"Spotlight FAQ" questions may be edited for privacy, length, and clarity. This post was last updated in October 2011.

Question: Anonymous on July 13, 2008 asked...
What do you think about attending a dental school in another country and saving yourself four years of study? In the U.S., the majority of students are required to have a bachelor's degree to be be accepted to dental school. In other countries to have a bachelor's degree is not a requirement and you can start dental school when you graduate from high school. What are the pros and cons of this idea?

Response: Top Ten Nation Writers replied...
Re: Foreign dental schools

It initially sounds as if it's a great idea, however, I recommend otherwise. If you attend a dental school outside of the U.S. or Canada or Australia (We'll call this trio USCanAus), those schools are not accredited by the ADA or the CODA, and therefore, you will be unable to practice in the U.S., Canada, or Australia upon graduation. This restriction includes schools in England or any other developed country outside of the U.S., Canada, and Australia. USCanAus all have reciprocal agreements within one another that allows portability to dental licensure. As a foreign graduate the only way to qualify to enter USCanAus is to take a 2 or 3 year Advanced Standing (AS) or Qualifying Program (QP) to earn a DMD/DDS in USCanAus. There may be exceptions or slight variations to these rules in a handful of states. These Advanced Standing seats are significantly harder to gain entry into than just the straight 4-year DMD/DDS seats. This doesn't mean that it isn't possible, plenty of people do what you have suggested. Other problems that you may face include a lack of a quality education, and unbeknown issues arising from the introduction of pass/fail NDBE Part 1 exams in the near future. Please note that currently all dental schools with Advanced Standing seats in the U.S. use NDBE Part 1 scores to scrutinize candidates for admission. This is all "up in the air" after somewhere potentially around 2011/2012, as dental schools will be scrambling to come up with other ways to scrutinize foreign applicants.

The only 'pro' of doing what you have suggested is saving potentially 2-3 years of education at most (and that is if you are an excellent student, and make no mistakes.) A lot of foreign dental schools that don't require undergraduate education are 5-year programs as well, so an additional year may be lost there. You may or may not also lose more years while applying for - and potentially waiting for - an Advanced Standing seat in USCanAus. It is of my personal opinion that this route of attending an international school is not recommended due to the mixture of all of these following reasons: you probably aren't going to save any time anyways, most dental schools that don't require undergrad education aren't in developed countries anyways (i.e. England or Ireland would require undergrad...) so you'd have to deal with safety issues being overseas. Dental school is difficult and it's better being somewhat closer to your family so you can go see them more often during short vacations. Why deal with Visa and student immigration issues? Furthermore, why deal with having to compete for heavy-in-demand AS seats, all for an attempt to save at most 1 or 2 years of education?

Take the safer route and apply to a U.S. or Canadian or Australian dental school. You'll get a quality education from the beginning, with the security of knowing that you will qualify for a dental license without having to seek admission to an Advanced Standing program. You'll be closer to your family. You'll also be more comfortable not having to deal with the language, cultural, dietary, and societal differences. At the end of the day, you'll probably spend less on your dental education as well by staying in the USCanAus. I hope this long winded answer helps.

Spotlight FAQ's is an idea to attempt to highlight interesting and relevant admissions questions for pre-dental students.

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