A Gap Year Before Dentistry

Posted on: June 17, 2021Chicago

After completing my undergraduate degree, making the decision to take a gap year before applying to dental school was an easy one. Four years in the college bubble busy with completing pre-dental coursework, preparing for standardized tests, participating in research, and completing shadowing requirements left me eager to spend my gap year involved in meaningful service. 

While I began my service term with Heartland Health Centers in August, I was also applying to dental school. One of the benefits of engaging in service through NHC was the opportunity to connect and learn from professionals involved in the field of dentistry and public health. These connections aided in informing me about what to expect in the application process as well as my career path after dental school. 

During my service term, I was able to serve one-on-one with patients through health coaching sessions–– an opportunity that is unique to many of NHC’s service positions. Being able to share my experiences with direct patient interaction was always a topic of conversation during my dental school admissions interviews and offered valuable insight to patient-facing healthcare careers. I was also able to assist in a dental integration pilot project at Heartland which aimed to bridge the gap between dental and primary care. Participating in the pilot was especially valuable as the field of dentistry is ever-evolving to approach oral health from a more systemic perspective. 

Additionally, NHC members regularly partake in member training days. During these days, NHC will bring in speakers from a range of health-related professions, including mental health advocates, physicians, and public health professors. Learning directly from a diverse set of professionals in the field allowed me to think more critically about the framework of our current healthcare system and my future within it. 

Host Site

HHC-Albany Park
3737 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, IL 60625

HHC-Devon
1300 W. Devon Ave., Chicago, IL 60660

HHC-Lakeview
3048 N. Wilton Ave., Chicago, IL 60657

HHC-Lincoln Square
2645 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, IL 60625

HHC-Wilson
845 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago, IL 60640

HHC-Hibbard Elementary School
4930 N. Sawyer Ave., Chicago, IL 60625

HHC-Senn High School
5900 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago, IL 60660

HHC-Kilmer Elementary School
6700 North Greenview Ave, Chicago, IL 60626

HHC-Sullivan High School
6631 N Bosworth Ave, Chicago, IL 60626

HHC-Roosevelt High School
3436 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago, IL 60625

HHC-Albany Park
3737 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, IL 60625

HHC-Devon
1300 W. Devon Ave., Chicago, IL 60660

HHC-Lakeview
3048 N. Wilton Ave., Chicago, IL 60657

HHC-Lincoln Square
2645 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, IL 60625

HHC-Wilson
845 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago, IL 60640

HHC-Hibbard Elementary School
4930 N. Sawyer Ave., Chicago, IL 60625

HHC-Senn High School
5900 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago, IL 60660

HHC-Kilmer Elementary School
6700 North Greenview Ave, Chicago, IL 60626

HHC-Sullivan High School
6631 N Bosworth Ave, Chicago, IL 60626

HHC-Roosevelt High School
3436 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago, IL 60625