Bridge Year Story: Alexis Till, UVA '18

Sarah Bessey
Alexis Till

When did you graduate from UVA and what did you study?

I graduated from UVA in May of 2018 with a Bachelors of Arts in Biology and minored in Religious Studies.

What are you doing during your bridge year(s) before matriculation to dental school?

During my bridge year, I have been working as a dental intern at a private dental practice in Richmond, VA. While working, I have had the flexibility to truly focus on the application process, as well as build my resume. Additionally, I have attended numerous dental volunteering events that have allowed me to network with established dentists and build connections.

What made you decide to engage in a bridge year?

Initially, I decided upon a bridge year in order to boost my resume and send in the best application possible. However, once I started working I realized how much value there is in a bridge year. As a dental intern, I have been able to learn the ins and outs of the practice from firsthand experience. Although shadowing is great and gives you a general idea of what it is like to be a health professional, you learn so much more about the day to day life by working.

How did you learn about the position?

I learned about the position actually from a previous year’s Pre-Health Blog post that my friend sent me! Although the position had not been posted for this year, I got a head start by looking through old blog posts and reaching out early to show my interest.

Good news! This office is hiring again this year! Find more information and how to apply here.

What did your experience as a dental intern consist of? Can you describe a typical day?

This internship is truly a unique experience because it exposes you to both the clinical and business sides of dentistry. As I work Monday - Thursday (also a plus), two of the days I work as a dental assistant aiding the dentist and the other two [days] I work doing more practice management tasks. These tasks deal with anything ranging from insurance billings to managing the office’s social media. Through these different tasks I have been able to get a good feel of what it’s like to run a practice. Also, by assisting the dentist I have a close up view of what is going on in each procedure. Thus, going into dental school I have a clear picture of what I will be doing one day as a dentist.

What advice do you have for students considering a career in this field?

The biggest advice I have for students applying to dental school is to get started early and talk to others! If you even have a faintest interest in the field but are not 100% sure, I would shadow early on and get your foot in the door. You have nothing to lose by exploring a career opportunity, but have a lot to lose by not getting started. Also, talk to a lot of people. Applying to dental school is not easy but other people love to talk to you about their experience if you just ask! You have a lot of resources at UVA to aid you in this process, so I would recommend using them. Gather several different perspectives from current UVA students, dental students, UVA Career Center Advisors, and even talk to admissions offices at dental schools. All of these people will offer different advice that can help you in the application process and beyond.