There are many ways to get to your destination, but I wanted to share my journey and how I got there.  Here are a few pearls I learned along the way:


  • Plan ahead for your future
  • Write down where you want to be in 5 years and 10 years
  • Hang out with the right crowd
  • Surround yourself with motivated people
  • Don’t let peer pressure get in your way of achieving your dreams
  • Research career paths and shadow the professionals in those professions
  • Start thinking about what courses to take early on
  • Build your resume
  • Join organizations and take on leadership roles
  • Volunteer in your community
  • Get involved in extracurricular activities
  • Take AP courses and get college credit
  • Read books
  • Play sports
  • Do your homework and prepare yourself for college
  • Prepare your personal statement and apply to schools that have a good reputation for getting you to the next level of your career
  • Get the help of your English teachers and high school counselor for writing your personal statement and application essay
  • Apply to as many scholarships as you can


  • Continue to shadow different professionals so that you can figure out if that’s your passion
  • Once you have decided which career is right for you, see how to exactly get there
  • Take all the pre-reqs for the graduate program you will be applying to

After deciding Dentistry is for your:

  • Congrats! You have chosen one of the best professions in the world πŸ™‚
  • For Dental School Admission test, try to take the courses that will cover topics on the DAT closer to when you will be taking the test so that the material is fresh on your mind
  • Join the pre-dental organization in your university or start one if there is not one
  • Volunteer in your community
  • Reach out to all the dental volunteer organizations and give your time
  • Build relationships with your faculty and ask them for a recommendation letter
  • Start studying for the DAT early, using your courses and using KAPLAN or other resources
  • Give yourself at least a month to focus only on the DAT studying
  • Take the DAT early so that you can retake it if you have to
  • Make sure you keep your GPA very high, especially in the sciences
  • Major in something that you feel will you give you the best well-rounded education
  • Go beyond the basic 12 credit hours every semester
  • By the third year, start working on your application and apply to dental school as early as possible
  • Write your personal statement and then re-write it a few times and then have friends, family and teachers read it and proofread it for you- make sure it explains your life story and your why?
  • Remember that most dental schools put heavy weight on the interview process, so once you do get an interview- that can be as important as 40% of your acceptance!
  • Gets lots of sleep and make sure you go over your application beforehand, practice talking to your friends and family or just to yourself answering the most commonly asked questions.

Dental School

  • Enjoy the summer before dental school starts- take a big vacation- you deserve it!
  • First year can be tough due to number of credit hours and school load but remember that you can do anything at this point πŸ™‚
  • Study hard enough to pass your tests
  • Absorb all the information that relates to dentistry and will help you become a better dentist
  • Volunteer in the field any opportunity that you get
  • Keep your notes and create study guides
  • Collaborate with your classmates and learn together
  • Build relationships with your faculties and your colleagues
  • Start treating patients and taking great care of them
  • Find a mentor and have them guide you and inspire you
  • Practice your clinical skills- it’s ok to be slow while you’re perfecting your skills
  • Don’t keep taking loans out for random things- just what is necessary for you to get your education and survive dental school
  • Apply for scholarships if available
  • Take advantage of the library
  • See what part of dentistry makes you the happiest- there are so many different specialties you can look into
  • If you like many things and different types of procedures then general dentistry is the way to go instead of limiting yourself to one certain area
  • Start looking at specializing if interested and look at the schools- shadow and talk to those specialists
  • If want to stay in General Dentistry- highly consider AEGD or GPR programs for advanced education
  • Apply early and make sure you have the grades, community and extracurricular activities and recommendation letters to support your application!


  • Associateship is recommended right out of school to get a feel for private practice.
  • Make sure you understand and agree with the contract
  • Save your money and manage it- don’t go buying the best cars and clothes just yet, come up with a strategy to pay off your loans first
  • Practicing and perfecting your skills is just as important as communication and interpersonal skills
  • Observe office designs, equipment, supplies
  • Learn the business aspect of dentistry by reading lots of books, listening to podcasts, talking to other professionals
  • Learn how to provide the best customer service
  • Practice building rapport and relationship with your patients
  • Practice diagnosing and treatment planning and presenting treatment plans

Starting your own practice:

  • Look for the best location
  • Network with other professionals and dental companies
  • Ask for recommendations for the best realtors, CPAs, banks, architects, designers, etc.
  • Create your brand, your mission statement, your vision, your niche, and what’s unique about you 
  • Start small but always think big and have room to grow
  • Focus on providing the best customer service
  • Hire and fire people as needed to build the best team that will help you achieve the vision for the practice
  • Take care of people better than your own family
  • Treat people like you would want to be treated
  • Get involved in your community
  • Volunteer your time and expertise
  • Take care of your team and help them reach their goals and dreams
  • Balance your work and family life
  • Be appreciative and give back as much as possible πŸ™‚

Best wishes to you on this wonderful journey!  Reach out to me if have any specific questions, 

Dr. Hoda Bassiri