Below is an interview with Rick Bottorff, a 2010 Graduate of Virginia Tech. Dr. Bottorff graduated VCU’s School of Dentistry in 2016 and currently works at Real Life Dental in Blacksburg, VA.
What led to your interest in dentistry? I became interested in dentistry through shadowing at multiple dental offices of all varieties, including general, cosmetic, and surgical practices. Seeing how vast the field is and how many treatments are at a provider’s disposal, in addition to the business opportunity through ownership of a practice is what really sparked my interest.
Who or what inspired you to pursue dentistry? A prominent cosmetic dentist and family friend, Dr Dan Kelliher, first invited me to his practice to learn about dentistry from him. He opened my eyes to how dentistry goes beyond just restoring oral health but the emotional and physical impact it can have on improving a patient’s self-confidence and quality of life.
What experiences did you have that confirmed dentistry was the right career for you? The personal interaction is what drives me and keeps me interested in my work. Any time a patient thanks me for making a positive impact in their life solidifies why I became involved with dentistry. The unique opportunity I have working at Real Life Dental here in Blacksburg is that the practice is built and operated for our patients, and I am encouraged to get to know everyone who walks through the door. I love dentistry because I get to know so many people and their unique experiences and stories.
What did you major in and what inspired you to choose this/these areas of study? I chose biology because I knew it would provide a good foundation for the rigorous academic field I was entering into with dentistry.
What activities did you participate in as an undergrad that shaped your preparation for dental school? I become involved with the pre-dental club, as well as the healthcare fraternity Alpha Epsilon Delta
How did you prepare for the dental school application process? I utilized the Health Professions Advising office’s resources that Virginia Tech offered.
Were you successful on your first attempt at application and would you like to share your story with the students on how you recovered/planned for the reapplication? I wasn’t successful my first attempt. So while reapplying, I enrolled in a post-bac program through Georgetown/George Mason. Doing so allowed me to take the same courses as first year medical students and showed on my second attempt that I could handle the challenges of an advanced curriculum.
What are some words of wisdom about the application process? What would you have liked to know ahead of time? What do you wish someone would have told you before you began applying? The most important factor with admissions is to be known by who matters. So many applicants look great on paper be it GPA, test scores, research, volunteer experience. So few make the effort to pick up the phone and call the professional schools they are interested in and set a face to face meeting. I knew VCU was where I wanted to go to dental school, so I made appointments to drive down and meet with the dean of admission and review what I needed to do to become a great applicant. By getting my face seen and making the effort to show genuine interest in their program, I know that elevated me from other applicants who may have looked better on paper.
Do you feel that you were prepared for the dental school interview? What preparation advice would you give? I prepared by looking up various interview questions found on numerous websites. I found practicing my answers in front of a mirror to critique my body language greatly helped. It’s important to sit tall, hold eye contact, be comfortable and confident.