Oral Surgery Personal Statement

Personal Statement Writing for a Fellowship in Dental Surgery

Oral and maxillofacial surgery or dental surgery is one of several specialties in the field of dentistry. To become a dental surgeon requires completing an oral and maxillofacial residency program after graduation from dental school. There are several sub-specialties in dental surgery that will require completing a dental fellowship program. Application for a fellowship in dental surgery sub-specialties will include writing a personal statement. The dental fellowship personal statement should include:

  • Reasons for choosing the specific sub-specialty. Admissions are interested in your motivations for choosing the field.
  • Skills and abilities you bring to the program not included in other application documents
  • What you want out of the program.
  • Future career goals related to the program

Admissions committees use the personal statement to judge the level of commitment you have to the field, your suitability to the program and some indication that you have researched the field and understand what it involves.

Guidelines for Writing a Personal Statement for Fellowship in Dental Surgery

Most personal statements for fellowships in dental surgery have few rules. There is usually some kind of word limit restriction. Check with individual programs for their specific rules. The following are some general guidelines you may follow but they are not rules:

  • Structure of the personal statement – The personal statement is usually under one page in length. A common approach for structure consists of a paragraph for 1) Introduction including reasons for choosing the sub-specialty 2) What you bring to the program 3) What you are looking for in the program and 4) One or two sentences on career goals and conclusion. Your reasons for why you chose the specialty may be elaborated on for one paragraph after the introduction.
  • Writing style – Clear concise writing style. It is important that you be understood and brief sentences using simple language are best.
  • Keep it relevant – Don’t include any unnecessary information. If it isn’t related to your application leave it out.
  • Proofread – No spelling mistakes or grammatical errors allowed

Writing a personal statement for fellowship might be tough. If you review some personal statement fellowship examples, you might want to get some ideas for how to write your own. The following is an example of a personal statement for dental surgery fellowship application:

“It is part of my nature, that I like working with my hands and enjoy “tinkering” with things. This is one of the reasons I chose dentistry as a career. I wanted to be in a health care profession and the type of work dentists perform is well suited to the type of hands on work I enjoy. During dental school I become interested in oral and maxillofacial surgery. As a result, I am currently a resident in the oral and maxillofacial surgery program at XYZ University. I am especially interested in the area of dental implants and upon completion of my residency am applying to your fellowship program in oral implantation.

During my residency I have had the opportunity to view and assist in a number of implantation procedures. It is a sub-specialty that captured my interest immediately, and that my talents are well suited for. Your program offers the opportunity for research as well as providing a sound education and an extensive and varied clinical experience. Implantation prosthodontics and implanted materials are areas that I would like to focus on in my research.

As with so many areas in the medical/dental fields, technology advances are coming at an ever increasing pace. This is an exciting time to be involved in the dental implantation field, both to gain a education and expertise in oral implantation, and to be involved in ongoing oral implantation research. Your fellowship program offers the education that will provide the knowledge I need to have a career in oral implantation and the opportunity to be involved and contribute to the latest technological advances in the field. Thank you for considering my application to your fellowship program in dental implantation surgery.”

Image credit: http://eriklyden.com/

Writing a good personal statement when applying for a fellowship in a dental surgery sub-specialty is essential. When you don’t know how to write one, don’t simply copycat fellowship personal statement examples. Make your own research, analyze and look for ideas. In case you are still having problems writing your personal statement, one alternative is to get help from our fellowship personal statement service.

And if you need a quality dental fellowship application, contact us right away.

Applying to Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency

Overview

Every year, thousands of students enter dental schools across the nation. An overwhelming amount will come with the intention of pursuing a specialty including Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. After a grueling four years of dental school and life, less than 250 of these determined men and women will go on to OMFS residency. It is a tough route, but with determination and hard work it can be achieved. This page and the resources within are dedicated to my mentors, friends, and family that provided me with guidance and support. Without them, my journey would not have been the same. To those on the road behind, I wish you good luck on the path to the best profession out there.

"The great contribution we can make is to prepare the oncoming generation to think they can and will think for themselves." - Charles H. Mayo

What makes a good OMFS applicant?

Answering this question is like asking an NFL coach what an ideal football player looks like. I’m sure his answer would consist of something along the lines of “strong, fast, a team player, and a hard worker.” This is a pretty generic and a generally unhelpful statement. Well, I hate to break it to you, but nine times out of ten you are probably going to get a response from a program director that sounds like, “we would like someone that is smart, hard working, technically competent, well spoken and a team player.” The take home message is that a program director knows what he is looking for in an applicant. He or she may have a very explicit list of required criteria such as a 70+ on the CBSE or top 10% of their class. More often than not, it’s the applicant’s time working or behavior displayed during an interview or an externship that provides the X-factor that the director wants. The idea is that you should strive to be someone that can contribute to a program and make it better. Steel sharpens steel the saying goes. Good grades, a strong CBSE score, and externships are only part of the equation for building your application. Don’t forget about the intangible things like character, friendliness, and respectfulness that go a long way. At the end of the day, would you pick you?

For more on being a good OMFS applicant:

What are Program Directors Looking For?

Choosing Where to Apply

Choosing where to apply can be a very difficult task. There are so many places and no way to know everything about all of them. Ideally, you need to have a good idea about what your long term plans are before starting down this road. Not only because it is expensive to apply and interview but also because you will be asked on your interviews. Some questions to help you start your selection are:

  • Do I want to do a 4-year program, 6-year program, or am I interested in both?
  • Do I want to do academics or private practice?
  • What aspects of OMFS interest me; microvascular, trauma, or core OMFS?
  • Do I care where I live or am I willing/able to move?
  • Are name brands important to me?
  • Am I in debt and/or can I afford to go there?

There are many more questions you have to ask yourself, but these are a good place to start. Frequently, you will also hear people say they only applied to programs “in the south,” or “do/don’t do cancer” or “are country club.” If you have specific criteria and it is being in a certain place or doing a certain thing, there is nothing wrong with that. Before you box yourself in, I encourage you to add a few places that sound intriguing or that you know nothing about. Some of my favorite programs I interviewed at were ones that I knew nothing about and never thought I would rank highly. Be wary about anecdotal information and SDN. These sources are always a good place to start, but the best judge of a program is you. Programs have different personalities and characteristics. Just like people, you can’t be all things to all programs. Find the ones where you fit in and feel comfortable.  

For more on choosing where to apply:

Program Page and Program Map

PASS Search Engine

How Many Programs Should I Apply To?

AAOMS Externship List

4-Year vs. 6-year Programs: Part I

4-Year vs. 6-year Programs: Part II

Application Timeline

A good way to approach the application process is to act like it starts the first day of dental school. The relationships you build, the grades you make, and leadership roles you take all help craft you into an ideal applicant. Tons of residents have made late decisions to go into OMFS, but they were only able to make it because of the foundation they created. Start early and you’ll be thankful later.

As far as the actual application, PASS opens each year in May. This is essentially the AADSAS on steroids. It is intended to be a clearinghouse for OMFS applicants and programs to be able to share common information such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc. Start early because organizing all of the information can take a significant amount of time. Try to shoot for July or early August at the latest to submit everything in order to be well ahead of any program’s deadline.

Once your application is submitted, interview invites begin as early as August and extend all the way until December. There is an interview invite thread each year on SDN that you can check to get a general idea of when a program has their interview day(s). For the most part, it seems to be pretty consistent, but I wouldn’t bank on it. After interviews, rank lists on MATCH are due in early January with results sent out at the end of the month. Note, that the time from PASS to interviews to match day will fly by very quickly.

For more information regarding application timelines:

Traditional OMFS Application Timeline: D1 Year

Traditional OMFS Application Timeline: D2 Year

Traditional OMFS Application Timeline: D3 Year

Traditional OMFS Application Timeline: D4 Year

OMFS Applicant Requirements

Although there are many different factors when judging applicants, there are some definitive requirements that are required by everyone applying to OMFS.

  • CBSE Score
  • NBDE Part I/II pass (confirmation of Part II required to start)
  • Dental licensure in a U.S. state*
  • PASS Application
  • MATCH List
  • Externships (not an explicit requirement but definitely implicit)
  • Letters of Recommendation

* Traditionally, a resident is granted an institutional license thereby not requiring personal licensure while performing residency duties (you would still need a personal license in order to moonlight). Anecdotally, word is that some residencies will require an applicant to hold a dental license in a U.S. state in addition to their institutional license in order to matriculate. For most programs, you are required to be license eligible. I am currently looking for confirmation to see if this is true and if it applies to all programs or if it is on a state/program basis. If you have information regarding this, please contact me and I will update this.

There are a couple of exceptions to these requirements that include but are not limited to, the reverse route track (M.D. first then D.M.D.) and foreign applicants (who often have other requirements). I am not sure of the specifics of either of those application processes, but I’m sure many readers would like an in-depth review if anyone would like to contribute an article or be a resource for me to write one. Also, if there are any items I am leaving out, please comment below.  For reference, the best resource for official oral and maxillofacial surgery residency information is the AAOMS and individual program websites. 

For more information regarding applicant requirements:

Official AAOMS Website

PASS Search Engine

Compiled OMFS Residency Program Website Links

PASS and Supplemental Applications

As mentioned earlier, the standardized application for postgraduate dental education is known as PASS. PASS stands for Postdoctoral Application Support Service. In short, PASS exists so that you can upload your resume, transcripts, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and other application materials into one database and then send that on to programs. It is an expensive, yet efficient system, and I am sure that it has made the application process easier than in the past.

Since the information entered into here is sent to every program you apply to, triple and quadruple check everything. There is a way to print out your application that shows exactly how it will look when programs receive them. Print it out, review it, and have someone else review it for you. If you have worked your entire dental school career to reach the point of application, this is not the time to be sloppy. People notice typos and even the smallest mistakes look sloppy.

Additionally, and this cannot be iterated enough, GET YOUR APPLICATION IN EARLY. Take the necessary measures to build a quality application that can be submitted early. This means starting your personal statement well before PASS opens. Ask for letters of recommendation an appropriate amount of time ahead. Don’t wait the last minute to take your CBSE. Know how and where to get your undergrad and dental school transcripts. Bottom line is to be prepared.

In an ideal world, PASS would be the only application you would need. You would fill it out, pay your fees, and sit back and wait. Unfortunately, supplemental applications have continued to thrive. I can understand that programs may have specific things they are looking for. What I do not understand is the significant cost and redundant information that they request. Supplemental applications can add up in cost very quickly especially if they require official score reports or transcripts. This makes it even more important that you are serious about where you are applying. In many cases, the supplemental fee plus official transcripts requested can add up to over $100. This does not even count the PASS fees. It makes you really appreciate the programs that only want a 2x2 photo.

Similar to your PASS application, make sure your supplemental applications are well organized and professional. Whereas PASS looks pretty much the same for every applicant, the supplemental application can be customized. What I mean by this is you could either send in a bunch of papers folded in an envelope paper clipped together, or you could have all requested documents placed in a nice folder alongside a copy of you resumé, 2x2 photo, and personalized cover letter. Yes, a lot of the extra stuff will get thrown in the trash. However, if you make the program coordinator’s or secretary’s (who screen most applications) job easier by being organized or more professional than the rest, it could be worth it by landing you an interview you might of otherwise not gotten. The alternative is worse. Imagine being an applicant that has competitive numbers, but because you sent in an unorganized or unprofessional supplemental you get rejected. It seems trivial, but more often than not the little things matter.

For more information about PASS and supplemental applications:

Official PASS Website

Navigating PASS for OMFS Applicants

UCSF Office of Career and Professional Development

Interviewing

PASS has been submitted, your supplemental applications are in, and now it is time to wait. Often, waiting for interview invites are the hardest part, especially if you submitted early. Every day will feel like it barely moves by while you wait for those invite emails. As mentioned earlier, SDN usually has a thread each year showing the date the invite was received and interviews are given. Watching the current thread is a good way to see if invites have been sent out. More often than not, there will be no rejection letter or email. In many cases, you will never hear from a program if you are not invited. It sucks to see someone post on SDN invites were sent out but when you look in your inbox nothing is there. It is part of it so don’t be discouraged! There are very few applicants that get invites to every program they applied, especially if they applied to 15 or more. Rejection is part of the game. Often, you will have no idea why they rejected you and invited someone else. You will never know, so move on and focus on the ones you did get.

Accepting and rejecting interview invites can also be a tricky game. Early in the season, you will want to accept every single interview invite. If you only applied to places you are genuinely interested in, then perfect. If not, later in the game when more invites get sent out you will have conflicts that require you to make tough decisions. Canceling an interview that you have already confirmed is tricky business. If you must cancel an interview, check to see if there is another interview date. If not, or if you decide you are no longer interested in their program, be very respectful in your email. Also, don’t wait until the last minute to cancel. By doing it early and respectfully it can prevent you from burning any bridges. The OMFS world is very small, and people remember how you treat them.

Deciding what to wear for interviews is easy. A well-fitted, dark suit and simple tie (for men) are all you need. If you want to branch out with socks, shoes, shirts, patterns, etc do so at your own risk. Interviews are not a time for a fashion show. Wear something that is professional, clean, and fits well. Simple as this.

Most programs will have a social the night before. I would suggest attending unless you are traveling during this time or are too tired to present yourself in your best capacity. The social is a great time to meet the residents, get their opinions, and let them get to know you. The socials are also paid for ( I haven’t heard of one that wasn’t) and usually fun. At the very least, it is a great time to catch up with other interviewees and, unashamedly, get a free meal.  The dress for socials ranged based on the casualness of the program and venue, but, if you are in doubt, you can never go wrong with a button-down and slacks. Never wear a t-shirt.

For the actual interview, be prepared. You should know your CV, personal statement, and any other information on your application extremely well. You should also be able to explain in detail your involvement in leadership positions, community outreach, and research. Most programs just want to get to know you. Going in the room and repeating your resume does no one any good. At the end of the day, the interview is about finding out if you and the program would be a good fit. It is as just as important for an applicant to evaluate the program during interviews as much as it is for a program to evaluate an applicant. I think it goes without saying that you should be well rested and showered for the actual day. If you are tired and need some rest, no one will fault you for leaving the social a little early the night before.

Interviewers can always sense a canned or practiced answer. An interview is a conversation. You can let your personality shine through a little as long as you are humble, pleasant, and genuine. Appearing argumentative, cocky, or disrespectful is a death wish. Body language is extremely important. Sit up in your chair, use eye contact when talking, and be aware of where and what your hands are doing. If you have a subconscious tick that comes out in stressful situations, find ways to minimize it. Questions that almost every person and programs will ask are a variation of:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Four-year programs, six, or both and why?
  • Why oral surgery
  • Why here?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten?
  • Do you have any questions for us?

There are an infinite amount of questions that can be asked during interviews, so I will not repeat them here. Even though this is the case, try to phrase some questions that you think you will be asked to yourself and answer them. You don’t necessarily want a canned response, but it helps to have an idea of what you will talk about if asked something more difficult or situational. For instance:

  • Describe to me a difficult patient experience you had and how you handled it
  • What is your biggest failure and how did you overcome/recover from it?
  • Why should we choose you or what can you bring to our program?
  • What makes you different/better than other candidates?
  • What do you personally feel are some of the biggest challenges OMFS faces?
  • What is your greatest attribute? Worst?

The list could go on and on, but for this page, I will end there. If you are confident in yourself and even mildly prepared, you will be fine. Also, be aware that some places will have you role-play in a situation with a patient, colleague, or another specialist. These were not that common, and you can’t really prepare for them. Keep a level head, take your time, and you will be fine.

Depending on the program, interview days end differently. Some have a social that night while others will just release you as soon as you finish your last interview. Some programs even ranked the interviewees immediately before the social, which was interesting. Either way, try and leave on a good note by thanking the program director, chair, or any other interviewers that are around. After returning home, or when you have a break on the trail, make sure to send a letter or email thanking the program for the invite and interview day. Everyone has a different opinion on whether to send an email or handwritten letter, and to whether to send it to just the program director, PD, and chair, or every interviewer. The decision is ultimately yours, and in the end, I doubt it has much influence, if any, on how candidates are ranked, but it is still a nice gesture.

For more information on interviewing:

How to Approach OMFS Interviews: A Simple Guide

Interview Trail Personal Statement

Costs of Applying

I have covered this topic in a separate post, but it is worth noting here. Applying to residency is expensive. By the time you combine your PASS/MATCH fees and interview expenses, you are going to be several thousand dollars poorer. Make conscious decisions about where you are applying and why. Costs can vary wildly depending on where and how you travel. Despite being a very well-paying investment, there is no need to add to a large amount of debt to what you may already have acquired. Spend money where it counts and save where it doesn’t.

For more information regarding costs of applying to residency:

PASS Fees

Costs of Applying to Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency

Rank Lists and Matching into OMFS

This is what you are here for, matching into an OMFS program. The applications are in and interviews are over. Now, it is time to create your rank list. I envy those that knew exactly where they wanted to go. Personally, I found it very hard to rank programs because I liked different qualities of each one. Some applicants have a very elaborate points-based ranking system while others went on gut feelings. In either case, there is no way to “beat” the match. MATCH is setup in such a way that it is in the applicant’s best interest to rank programs in the exact order where they want to go. It is no use ranking a program higher because you think you are more likely to match there. Put it exactly in the order of where you want to go. If you are still struggling to try to put programs in order, you can make changes all the way up until the due date. Whatever you do, DO NOT FORGET TO SUBMIT YOUR RANK LIST!

Once everything is submitted, sit back and relax. The longest wait you will ever have will be between submitting your list and Match Day. If all goes well, you will receive an email congratulating you on matching at “Your OMFS Program.” Good luck!

For more information on Rank Lists and Matching into OMFS:

Official MATCH Website

Official MATCH Statistics

Match Results and CBSE Scores

How the Dental Match Works

If you have made it this far, thank you for reading! I will continue to add more articles and information to this section as I finish them. If you have any questions regarding anything on this page or have a specific topic you would like me to cover, please let me know. And as always, comments are always appreciated!

Updated 1.23.17

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