For almost six years, Kyle Takahashi worked at a private dental practice in Piedmont, Calif. There, he worked on the frontlines with the patients—from scheduling to interacting with insurance companies to just about everything other than drilling teeth. His dream: to work as a dentist. To get there: apply and be accepted to dental school.
"I applied to dental school once before in 2012 with a terrible DAT score and a subpar GPA from undergrad," the Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program graduate recalls. "I thought that my work experience and connections in the field would be good enough to get accepted, but I was rudely awakened when I received zero interviews and acceptances."
Like so many of our students faced with this situation, Kyle turned to our Post-Bacc program to help him get from zero acceptances to being admitted into the school of his dreams. Currently finishing up his first year at UCSF's School of Dentistry, Kyle graciously took some time out of his jam-packed schedule to tell us about his Extension education journey.
I came specifically to Extension because it was the only program that would allow me to work full time while taking classes.
After speaking with another local doctor, he recommended that I retake my DAT and complete a post-bacc program. I was reluctant at first, but I knew dentistry was my future. I thought that having completed the program would look much better on my application than just taking some random science courses. I had taken a good amount of prerequisites for school already, but I wanted to show that when I was focused and applied myself that I was more than capable of earning good grades.
So I toughed it out and completed the program while working full time, sometimes two jobs at once.
Having that base knowledge has been incredibly helpful because the dental course load is so immense.
What was your experience like going through the program?
Most of the students were pre-med instead of dental or other health fields, so I didn't relate to a lot of the application challenges they were going through.
Also, I had very limited time because of work.
The faculty and staff were always very helpful and answered any questions I had promptly. They were very helpful with mock interviews and aiding in my composite letter, which was essential for my application.
I want to be a part of major changes to how my community and our nation views the importance of oral health.
And now you're in the thick of dentistry school at UCSF—congrats! After completing our program, did you feel prepared?
It had helped me tremendously! Pretty much all of the science courses we have covered at UCSF so far is something that I've been exposed to from my time in the post-bacc program. Having that base knowledge has been incredibly helpful because the dental course load is so immense.
How close are you to completing UCSF's program? What's next after that?
I am about three weeks away from completing my first year. After I graduate, I plan to go back to the private practice I worked at previously and possibly work with some of my colleagues from school.
Years down the road, I hope to have a thriving private practice and participate in monthly volunteer activities. It would be awesome to work with schools within my community to integrate oral health into the curriculum. So much of dental disease is preventable, and I want to be a part of major changes to how my community and our nation views the importance of oral health.
What advice would you give to somebody who is thinking about enrolling in our post-bacc program?
I would say to definitely talk with a counselor at some of the schools you are interested in applying to so that you can make sure you are going through the program correctly.
I would also speak with the program director of the post-bacc to make sure you are on the right track for your ideal health professions school. Everyone in my experience was friendly and helpful.