Detroit Mercy ASDA hosts pre-dental students for shadowing days

By: Brittany Schweiger, DS2, ASDA Pre-Dental Chair

Many applicants think they know what to expect of dental school, but they have no idea.  Detroit Mercy ASDA wanted to help with that.

In celebration of October being ASDA’s Pre-Dental Month, several events were hosted for pre-dental students to experience what Detroit Mercy Dental is really like.

The main event was the Pre-Dental Shadowing Program which took place on two separate days. More than 45 applicants expressed interest; a total of ten participants were chosen, five per day.

The day included a tour of campus and opportunities for participants to shadow each a DS1 and DS2 student.

Applicants often overlook the importance of basic science courses as the foundation to our education. We wanted to remind them that dental school is more than simulation lab and patient treatment, so we scheduled participants to experience the new integrated biomedical and clinical simulation curriculum by including them in DS1 didactic coursework. They received handouts of the notes to follow along.

In addition to didactic courses, we wanted to include simulation experience. Pre-dentals shadowed DS2s in the denture simulation where they listened to a brief lecture regarding anterior and posterior tooth set-up, practiced drilling on a Learn-A-Prep and even had the opportunity to wax-up a tooth..

Kal Barawi, DS2, (left) shows a pre-dental student how to set anterior denture teeth

One of the most important aspects of our Pre-Dental Shadowing Program is for participants to experience the culture at Detroit Mercy Dental. Many say our school feels like a family. I can personally attest to our welcoming and caring atmosphere; this is difficult for others to understand until it is personally experienced. We hope each of our participants took that special feeling away from their day with us.

Elizabeth Horn, a Junior at Michigan State, shared her thoughts on the experience, describing a full and rewarding day.  Here is what she had to say:


“I was so thrilled when I found out that I had been accepted to ASDA’s Pre-Dental Shadowing Program! I was unsure of what to expect of “a day in the life of a dental student.” Prior to this event, the only knowledge I had of what dental school is actually like came from dental student’s Instagram accounts, which portray everything with rose colored glasses, and I knew that the every day realities couldn’t always be fun and glamorous.

Once we were paired up with our volunteer student shadows, we headed into the first class of the day, which focused on dental materials. This was instantly interesting, and directly related to our future careers.

The instructor discussed the history and scientific mechanisms of methyl methacrylate. The content was new and exciting, and I could see the direct correlation and relevance of the material science to my future practice.

Following this, we had biochemistry and pharmacology lecture, which was also interesting. I was surprised to learn the format of DS1 lectures, as I didn’t know the vigor of the schedule. Knowing that DS1s sit in lecture all day has motivated me to change my study habits in undergrad to better prepare for the transition to this type of learning model.

My DS1 partner recently graduated from my undergraduate university and I found it nice to be able to talk with her about our shared experiences and to learn her tips for the application process.

Elizabeth on the far right, with other pre-dental students and second-year volunteers.

Following lectures, we had lunch with DS2s. I really enjoyed being able to hang out with them and getting to know them as people, not just dental students.

After lunch, we had a tour of the school, clinic, and simulation labs. I liked being able to receive a full tour and not just see the inside of a classroom.

We then paired with our DS2 student partner and joined them in the simulation lab as they created a denture. This was my favorite part of the day, as it was more sociable and hands-on.

The lab began with the instructor detailing how to place the remaining teeth in the denture wax. The DS2 then taught me how to hold the handpieces, place the bur, and drill.

This made my dream of being a dentist feel real. It felt amazing to see the handpiece in my hand. It is was a reminder of where I want to be at the end of this long, tiresome application process, and motivated me to keep working hard!

I am so grateful for this experience and feel that I learned so much about the application and interview process, the realities of dental school life, and the diversity of dental students regarding their backgrounds and goals for the future.”