College of Dentistry Multiple Mini Interviews
College of Dentistry multiple mini interviews were held April 6th 2024

Dentists giving back: The impact of volunteerism in college admissions

The contributions of dentist volunteers to the college admissions process have a far-reaching impact on dental education and the profession as a whole.

By Duane Krip

In the world of dentistry, the journey from aspiring student to licensed professional is a challenging yet rewarding path. For many, the dream begins with the desire to make a difference in people's lives through oral health care. However, gaining admission to a dental college can be a daunting task, with competition fierce and requirements stringent.

In this landscape, volunteerism plays a crucial role, particularly among seasoned dentists who generously offer their time and expertise to assist in the selection process of candidates applying to enter a dental college. Among these volunteers are many who once walked the halls of the institution as students themselves, now eager to give back to their alma mater and contribute to shaping the future of the profession.

On Saturday April 6th ,2024, forty volunteers from the dental profession gathered at the University of Saskatchewan (Usask) campus for the College of Dentistry’s Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI). Eighty student prospects were vying to be selected to be one of the thirty-six students admitted into the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) program this fall.

The significance of volunteerism in dental college admissions

Volunteer involvement in the admissions process of a dental college serves multiple purposes, all of which contribute to the betterment of the dental profession.

For Dr. Curtis Argue (DMD ’97), his motivation to be a part of the admissions process stems from a desire to ensure the highest quality of candidates enter the profession. He articulated that for dentists over 50 years old like himself, “interests change, priorities change, and you start to look toward the end of your career and how you can help cultivate the next generation of dentists.”

With the expertise of experience of dentists like Dr. Argue, the admissions team can assess applicants more comprehensively, identifying those with not only academic prowess but also the qualities and characteristics essential for success in the field. This ensures that only the most qualified and dedicated individuals are admitted, maintaining the high standards of dental education.

Dr. Sarah Kowall (DMD ’23) was one of the most recent graduates from the College of Dentistry to return for the MMI admissions process.  For Dr. Kowall, volunteerism in college admissions fosters a sense of community, camaraderie and reconnection among alumni, faculty, and current students. She states that, “it strengthens ties between generations of dental professionals as these new entrants into the college will one day be future colleagues.” As a lifelong volunteer herself, Dr. Kowall feels that being an active volunteer in this type of setting instills a culture of giving back that extends far beyond the confines of the admissions office saying it “is a part of being a well-rounded dentist.”

Dentist volunteers bring a wealth of expertise and insight to the admissions process. Their firsthand experience in clinical practice equips them with a keen understanding of the qualities necessary for success in the field of dentistry. When evaluating candidates, they look beyond academic achievements to assess qualities such as empathy, communication skills, professionalism, and a genuine passion for patient care.

Additionally, dentists like Dr. Tarquin Stott (DMD ’22) volunteered to participate in the interviews desiring to give back to his college. For Dr. Stott, he vividly remembers what it is like to be on the other side of the interview table and how stressful the experience is. He understands how important it is to interact directly with applicants and gauge their suitability for the profession. These interactions provide applicants with an opportunity to showcase their interpersonal skills and demonstrate their commitment to dentistry.

The impact of dentist volunteerism on dental education

The contributions of dentist volunteers to the admissions process have a far-reaching impact on dental education and the profession as a whole. Dr. Nicole Kriel (DMD ’21) said that she likes the fact that she can see who is applying and “help pick the individuals best suited to be a dentist”. By ensuring that the most qualified and dedicated individuals are admitted, it helps maintain the high standards of dental education and produce graduates who are well-equipped to meet the evolving needs of patients and communities.

A reoccurring theme amongst the MMI volunteers was that dentist volunteerism reinforces the importance of giving back within the dental community. It instills in students the values of altruism, service, and mentorship, which are integral to the practice of dentistry. As students witness the commitment of dentist volunteers to the profession and their alma mater, they are inspired to pay it forward and become active participants in shaping the future of dentistry.

It’s never too early to start volunteering

The spirit of volunteerism in the dental community commences when students are accepted into the DMD program.  An event like the annual MMI’s require a lot of human power to help choreograph the interviewers and interviewees day. This year, twenty-eight year 1 DMD students pitched in to help by making tours in the college and providing directions to candidates. Year 1 DMD students like Anne-Florence Lambert and Chang Ge went through the interview process one year ago and understand the high level of stress that is involved for the interviewees. Lambert recalls how she appreciated having friendly faces and the advice she received from the Year 1 student volunteers. Ge added that for him, “volunteerism is not only a way to give back to the college, but it is a part of the overall variety of experiences of university life”.

The involvement of dentist volunteers in the selection process of candidates for a dental college is a statement to the spirit of volunteerism that permeates the dental profession. Their dedication, expertise, and commitment to giving back contribute to the continued excellence of dental education and the advancement of oral health care worldwide. As they invest their time and energy in shaping the next generation of dental professionals, dentist volunteers leave a lasting mark on the profession and inspire others to follow in their footsteps.