Becoming a dentist: A panoramic x-ray of the professional socialization of dental students
Miller, Karen L.
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This research explores the professional socialization of dental students at a public university in New York State. The ethnographic study focuses on the mechanisms through which dental students are socialized into the profession of dentistry while simultaneously establishing their collective and individual identities. Situated in a professional school, which is saturated with traditions and rites of passage, this work attempts to understand the significance of critical experiences that occur during the first and fourth years of the dental school educational process. The exploration of the dental school culture is framed by the concept of professional socialization, assembled within a continuum of different responses by the dental students to the processes of professional socialization. This study documents the philosophies, programs, and daily life experiences of the dental students and their collective effect upon the students' professional socialization. The question that dominates the study focuses on how the dental student learns the role that he/she is preparing to play upon graduation.