Below is the second part of 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 surprised you the most about dental school? How important time management is. With the volume of information given during lectures, it became important to filter which portions of the material was worth studying and not getting worn down in the minutiae. There aren’t enough hours in the day to memorize every detail, so it was critical to know how to spend study time effectively.
What do/did you enjoy most about dental school? I was able to put together a band with a few classmates and also our dean. Being able to play for school functions and a few shows was a huge thrill and something I’ll always look back fondly on.
Is there any advice or feedback that you received regarding personal statements that you would like to share? Personal statements can be glossed over by the reader quickly due to the sheer volume faculty have to browse through. It’s important to not bog it down with too many details, get to the point early and catch their interest near the start and not half way through.
How many schools did you apply to and what criteria or resources did you use to select these schools? I applied to around 10, and I researched each one online to see what kind of curriculum they offered. For example, was it heavy in research or more focused on clinical education?
What made the dental school you chose the right fit for you? VCU has a great clinical portion to their curriculum which is exactly what I wanted. Being able to treat many patients and develop my hand skills early has been tantamount to my success as a dentist now.
Did anyone encourage or discourage you from applying to dental school? I was blessed to have a very supportive family while going through the journey. Getting into dental school isn’t something you can do alone and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my parents.
What memory stands out the most from your first few weeks of dental school? The first 6 weeks were devoted to gross anatomy. That’s a smell you don’t soon forget.
What advice do you have for applicants considering a career in dentistry? Spend time at a dental office to see firsthand what goes on. Understand there are good and bad days and that you have to enjoy talking to people otherwise you won’t enjoy what being a successful dentist is about.
What is your top tip for applicants preparing to take the DAT exam? Study moderately for a few weeks leading up to it, then push yourself hard that final week before test day. Don’t burn out too early; it’s a marathon, not a sprint.