Many people who go to school for dentistry or dental surgery are also interested in pursuing medical studies at the same time. Some reasons for pairing these degrees include wanting the ability to offer a more holistic dental practice, the possibility that a combined degree will offer more career options upon graduating, or wanting to provide combined medical and dental care to patients in rural areas where access to both medical dentists and doctors is often limited. Although programs specifically offering dual Doctor of Medicine (MD) and Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) may be limited, there are other options available.
Examples of Dual Medical-Dental Degrees
One option for combining medical and dental education is a dual degree that joins a Doctor of Medicine (MD) with a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). This kind of degree might be offered by a medical school in conjunction with a dental school. In this program, a student will receive full medical education through the MD program while also receiving a full education in dental surgery. Completing this degree can take six years, and will include residencies in both the medical and dental surgery fields in addition to full-time coursework.
Another option is a dual degree that joins the MD with a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD). Interestingly, though the DDS and DMD degrees have different names, both degrees share the same requirements for their curricula. So, just as with an MD/DDS program, students in an MD/DMD program will receive a full medical education in conjunction with their dental training. In this type of program, you might begin your studies at the medical school and then begin classes at the dental school during your medical residency, or begin your studies in the dental school and then begin medical school classes during your dental surgery residency. This type of program can take seven years including course work and residencies.
Sometimes dual degrees in dentistry and medicine offer more specialized options. One example of this is a program that combines a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) with a DMD degree. A student pursuing a DO will get a medical education that focuses on holistic medicine and emphasizes preventative care. In addition to typical medical training, one unique thing a DO program may include is clinical experience in which the student learns about culturally responsive approaches to medicine. Similar to other medical/dental programs, this dual degree can take six years to complete.
Common Admissions Requirements for Medical-Dental Dual Degree Programs
When dual degrees are made up of two programs at different schools, it is common for prospective students to have to apply to each individual degree program separately and then apply for the joint degree after acceptance. Typically, DDS or DMD degree programs require at least three years of pre-dental study at a college or university. In addition, standardized tests such as the MCAT or the DAT are often required. Similarly, MD and DO admissions usually require an undergraduate degree with a certain amount of pre-medical courses, as well as a certain score on a standardized test.
There are a number of options for people who want to pursue both a medical and dental education. Completing this kind of dual degree can open up a number of career opportunities, in addition to enhancing your skills as a practitioner.