Additional Health Careers

Dental Careers

  • Dentists may have a variety of responsibilities, including diagnosing and treating diseases and injuries of the teeth and mouth, improving cosmetic appearance, performing surgical procedures such as implants, educating patients to prevent oral disease, and teaching and performing research. 
  • Over 80% are general practitioners while about 20% are dental specialists who limit their practices to one of the nine recognized dental specialty areas.
  • Although most dentists work in private practice, they also work in academic medical centers, research institutions, public health agencies, hospitals, military installations, and other industries. (American Dental Association, Dentistry Fact Sheet)

Shadowing and Volunteering

Interested students should familiarize themselves with the dental field before applying to dental school. In addition to being necessary to help inform your career decisions, this is a requirement for most dental schools. Opportunities can be found through the resources below and elsewhere:

  • Your family or local dentist: They are often delighted to talk about their career and may be open to shadowing.
  • House Premedical Tutors: Even if your House Tutors are not in the dental field, other resident and nonresident Tutors often are and can serve as resources. 
  • Harvard Alumni Association: Online database of Harvard alumni, many available for shadowing.
  • Harvard School of Dental Medicine: Students may contact the admissions office for names of current HSDM students willing to meet with Harvard College students and alumni.
  • American Dental Association (ADA) International Dental Volunteer Organizations: Search or browse by organization, location, and type of opportunity.

Application Process

The ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools, available at OCS and online, is a comprehensive guide with information on preparing and applying to dental schools, requirements and admissions statistics for individual schools, and the financial aid process.

Timeline

The dental application cycle is similar to that for medical schools with applicants officially beginning the process over a year prior to enrollment in dental school. Applicants should expect to apply well in advance of the official deadlines and spend the summer months (June through August) applying to schools, completing both the primary application and school-specific supplemental applications. Interviews, if granted, usually take place during the fall and winter. Acceptance offers will typically come no earlier than the beginning of December for most schools.

Course Requirements

Most dental schools require two semesters of coursework in each of the following: general chemistry, organic chemistry, general biology, and general physics. All courses should include corresponding labs. Increasingly, schools are adding requirements for courses in biochemistry, math and English. Students should check with individual schools and the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools.

Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

All applicants are required to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). The DAT is a computerized test and can be scheduled year-round. The test includes general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning and perceptual ability. Review the test, sample questions, and scheduling.

The Application

Students apply to dental school through a centralized application service, the Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS). 54 out the 58 U.S. Dental Schools participate in AADSAS. Processing of the application can take 4-8 weeks and applicants can monitor their status online.

Letters of Recommendation

A House Premedical Committee Letter is acceptable (and preferred) by most dental schools, and it should accompany three individual letters of recommendation for dental school applicants. The Premedical Committee Letter is sent directly to AADSAS; applicants must submit the Letter of Recommendation matching form available in AADSAS to their Houses. Students can print this form after they have initiated their AADSAS application.

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Veterinary Careers

Doctors of veterinary medicine play a significant role in the health care and welfare of animals as well as human public health, medical research, and public safety.

Although most veterinarians work in private practice (approximately 75%), many others pursue a variety of careers including preventive medicine, regulatory or military veterinary medicine, laboratory animal medicine, research and development in industry, teaching and research, and public health. (Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges)

Shadowing and Volunteering

Interested students should familiarize themselves with the veterinary field before applying to vet school. In addition to being helpful for career decision purposes, all veterinary schools require veterinary, animal, and/or health science experience; many recommend a breadth of experience working with many species. Opportunities can be found through:

  • Your vet, local zoo, or humane society: You could also ask a veterinarian in private practice, either at home or in Boston, whether they could use any help.
  • New England Primate Research Center: A part of Harvard Medical School, the Center offers a Summer Veterinary Program in Southborough, MA.
  • Research opportunities involving animals: Check the Harvard Funding Sources Database for undergraduate research opportunities within Harvard’s centers and departments. There are opportunities to work with animals in the areas of biological anthropology or OEB, e.g. Hauser Cognitive Evolution Lab.
  • Harvard Pre-Veterinary Society: A group of Harvard students interested in veterinary medicine. Join their listserv.  
  • Harvard Alumni Association: Online database of Harvard alumni available to discuss their careers.

Application Process

The AAVMC Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements Guide (available at OCS), provides information about individual US and foreign vet schools, including coursework and application requirements.

Timeline

The veterinary application cycle begins about a year prior to enrollment. Many schools have application deadlines in early October. Interviews, if granted, usually take place during the winter months (January-March). Acceptance offers may come soon after an interview or not until April.

Course Requirements

Vet school course requirements are more extensive than for medical school. Most vet schools require two semesters of coursework in each of the following: general chemistry, organic chemistry, general biology, and general physics. All courses should include corresponding labs. In addition, most schools require biochemistry and microbiology. Applicants will sometimes take these at other colleges or universities. In addition to referring to the Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements Guide (available at OCS), students should expect to consult with individual schools about requirements.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Most veterinary schools required the GRE general test; a few schools require GRE biology subject test in addition. Some programs will consider MCAT scores in lieu of the GRE.

The Application

For all but a handful of non-participating schools, students apply through a centralized application service, the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS). Completed applications are sent from VMCAS to the individual schools beginning a few weeks prior to the application deadline (around late September). Be sure to research individual schools regarding their application procedures.

Letters of Recommendation

Students do not need a committee letter from their House Premedical Committee; letters from individual faculty and supervisors are sent directly to VMCAS. VMCAS encourages applicants to use their online, electronic letter of recommendation format (eLOR). All but three vet programs participate in VMCAS.

Selected Opportunities and Resources in Veterinary Medicine

  • Animal Rescue League of Boston: A nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing domesticated animals and wildlife from suffering, cruelty, and neglect. Volunteer opportunities include assisting in the Mobile Clinic, Adoption Services, and Kennel Assistance. 
  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA): A nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums. A list of internship opportunities is available online. 
  • Cornell University, The College of Veterinary Medicine: The Vet School has a number of volunteer programs and publishes a newsletter that has helpful general information. 
  • Franklin Park Zoo: Descriptions of opportunities are available online. 
  • MSPCA-Angell: An organization involved in animal protection and veterinary medicine. Volunteer opportunities are available throughout Massachusetts. 
  • Museum of Science-Boston (MoS): Volunteers in the Live Animal Center at the MoS assist in the handling, care, and feeding of wild animals used for educational programs in the Museum.
  • New England Aquarium: Volunteer and internship opportunities, most of which require a six month time commitment. 
  • Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, MA: A reconstructed, 17th century village in southeastern MA. Opportunities include helping with rare-breed farm animals.
  • Projects Abroad: An international study and travel program with a specific area focusing on veterinary medicine. Placements include: Ghana, India, Mongolia and Romania (fee-based program).
  • Tufts Adventures in Veterinary Medicine Program: A week-long introduction for students interested in pursuing a DVM degree (fee-based). Tufts also has other volunteer opportunities to gain experience (e.g. wildlife clinic openings).
  • Windrush Farm Therapeutic Equitation: A nonprofit working horse farm with therapeutic programs for the disabled in Boxford, MA. Opportunities both in the barn and with students.

Quick Reference

Career opportunities in public health are diverse, and include such fields as: health services administration, biostatistics, epidemiology, health education/behavioral science, environmental health, international health, maternal and child health, nutrition, and public health practice/program management. Learn more.