How to Become a Forensic Odontologist
1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)
Just as with aspiring dentists and physicians, students must prepare themselves in the best way possible for medical school by completing a premed program.
Due to the competitive nature of graduate medical programs, students should aim to maintain a GPA of 3.5 or higher for the best chances of admission into their school of their choosing.
The preparation timeline below provides an example premed curriculum:
|Grade Level||Example Courses|
2. Take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
To be admitted into medical school, candidates must first take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), a 7.5 hour, standardized, multiple choice exam used to assess the applicant's knowledge of science, reasoning, communication, and writing skills.
|Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems||
|Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems||
|Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior||
|Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills||
You can find study materials, MCAT registration, and your test scores on the MCAT website. If you are unsatisfied with your score on any of the aforementioned exams, you are free to retake them. Depending on the school, some will average your scores and others will simply take your most recent.
3. Earn a Medical Degree (4 Years)
All forensic odontologists are also dentists, meaning they must earn a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM) or Doctor of Dental Science (DDS) degree as a prerequisite to their forensic career.
Considerable extra training is also needed along with practical experience, typically earned alongside a seasoned forensic professional.
A list of accredited medical education programs is available through the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).
For more information and advice on successfully getting into medical school, you can check with the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Medical school consists of four years of studying the basics in science and participating in clinical “rotations.”
These are hands-on clinical experiences in real health care settings. In most med schools, the first two years are taken up with classroom studies before students are assigned to do rotations.
The current trend, however, finds a number of medical schools exposing students to early clinical experiences that continue throughout the four-year program.
Most medical schools base their curriculum on a system-based approach that focuses on one physiological system at a time, such as the respiratory system or the nervous system.
Still others may use a case-based curriculum that teaches about the human body’s normal functioning and disease processes by assigning students to following individual patient cases from start to finish.
Still other med schools use a combination of these approaches to educate their students.
The most common lines of coursework among medical schools consist of the following subjects:
During the last two years of schooling, students are required to obtain hands-on experience at hospitals and clinics, learning to diagnose and treat patients while working under the supervision of licensed physicians.
Upon completion of four years of med school, a student is awarded a medical degree, or M.D. Another popular trend is for schools to offer combination degree programs, such as MD/MPH, MD/PHD or MD/JD.
The AAMC’s website on Medical School Admission Requirements offers more information on this option. The preparation timeline below provides an example Doctor of Dental Medicine curriculum:
|3rd, 4th, 5th||
4. Earn the Required Certification
This is only open to specialists who pass a test after earning 350 qualification points through professional development programs, and work at least 25 cases.