Headshot of U N E Dental Medicine student Emily Richard

Emily Richard '21

Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) Medical Biology


I chose UNE because of the small class size — if you’re looking for small classes and a tight-knit community, UNE is for you. There is a lot of hands-on experience early on. We had drills in our hands on the first day of clinic. The experience that we get with hand skills as students is unbeatable. 

[Because UNE does not have post-graduate students], in our third and fourth years, we got to do more challenging cases, whereas at other schools, those get handed off to residents. It allowed us to feel more confident so we were more prepared when we graduated.

Another thing that I saw as a huge plus is that all of our courses are pass or fail. That’s a really great thing because it fostered a community learning environment versus a competitive one. It was a group learning environment, and we were all trying to help each other learn and succeed. 

Hands-On Learning

I worked on challenging cases that I’m sure at other schools would have been referred to specialists. It was a steep learning curve, but we were set up to be ready for it. Being challenged like that made us much more independent in our fourth year when we had 12-week rotations at our externships. At externship, you are the dentist. You’re making treatment decisions and plans. You have doctors who are overseeing and always able and willing to answer questions, but you are really gaining a level of independence that makes you feel confident for when you graduate.

My externship helped me realize my own abilities in diagnosing and treating patients. I knew I could do it on my own. I came back a lot more confident in my skills and my decisions as a clinician. At school, you have the safety net of always asking faculty, on rotation you really start to do things on your own and make the tough decisions. It was so valuable to have that experience.

We also get a lot of oral surgery experience that at other schools, you probably aren't getting — the biggest one being implant placement as dental students. I know some people that were placing them in their third year. I had classmates that placed probably almost twenty implants in their two years. It all varies provider to provider just based on your patient pool and who needs implants, but our oral surgeons are fantastic and helped us learn the implant placement process. I got to place two implants while I was at UNE, and I restored a few implants that my partner ahead of me had placed. It’s a huge benefit to be able to have that experience and feel more confident in continuing learning how to do implants once you've graduated rather than starting for the first time.

UNE does a really good job in preparing you to be an independent clinician as a first-year dentist right out of the program.

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