Congratulations – you made it to the end! You are now a dental school graduate and a practicing dentist. Sometimes working in the real world can be an adjustment. It is normal to feel nervous and excited about your clinical skills and patient care. But, remember, clinical confidence comes with practice and experience.
Being a clinician in school can be very different from being one out of school. When you start practicing after you graduated either as an associate dentist or solo practitioner, it is essential to manage your time well. While you were in school, you may have seen only one patient for several hours, with someone checking up on your work frequently. As a new dentist, your time is more limited, and you may have more than one patient. In the beginning, time management can be a challenge. It is a good idea to take lessons from others that have been doing it longer and to find ways that will help improve your efficiency.
As you begin to adjust to life outside of dental school, you will soon find that you will encounter those that don’t have as patience for your inexperience. While it is not easy to accept criticism and assessments of your work, do not take this feedback to heart. Instead, learn what you can from it. Like most new employees in any career, when you start something new, no matter the training, it generally takes a few months to get comfortable in the role. As you continue to improve your craft and patient care, the criticism will lessen, and long term will not be an accurate reflection of your ability.
Finishing and graduating from dental school is a considerable achievement, but the learning doesn’t stop there. You have a strong foundation, but it is almost impossible to have learned or experience every situation you may encounter with a patient. Therefore, continue to grow and hone your skills and knowledge by participating in continuing education opportunities.
Another good option to maintain your proficiency and learn new techniques is to find a mentor and/or shadow other peers that do what you’d like to know. Finally, refrain from becoming complacent in your role. New technology and techniques are being discovered, so it is vital to your career development to keep up with these updates.
It can be a transition to go from training to an office environment. One of the best things you can do is get to know the people you are working with and let them get to know you in return. Starting the process of building trust with the administrative staff, dental hygienists, other associate dentists, and partners can help build better relationships. Also, make sure you are open to their feedback and learning from them and show appreciation for help or guidance. If you happen to have opened your own practice, small gestures like bringing in lunch, notes of appreciation, or asking for their feedback often can help build camaraderie and boost morale.
Not only is it critical to create solid working bonds on your own team, but it is also equally important to build strong relationships with others in your field. It is a crucial part of developing your career. Dedicating time to networking with other dentists is well worth it. You will make business acquaintances and friendships along the way that will be invaluable if you need to reach out to a peer for help. Make it a priority to attend local and nationwide conferences for dentists early in their careers or entrepreneurs. This will help you get to know other providers in the area and beyond. When you make an effort to build relationships with colleagues and find out what your competitors are doing, you can better decide what opportunities and challenges may be or may not be a good fit for you and your career.
It is easy to feel tired and a little overwhelmed as you are first starting your career. However, don’t use that as an excuse to avoid socializing and relaxing. Both are essential to healthy, mental, emotional, and even physical health. When you are happy and rested, you are better able to do your job. So, find the time to see friends and family regularly, exercise, and just get away from the office. If you don’t make your own health a priority, you may find that your body and mind start to feel burned out, not operating at full capacity.
Once you start to earn some money, it is probably time to think about what you should be doing financially. More than likely, you may:
If this sounds too overwhelming, it can help to find advisors, like an accountant, financial planner, or attorney you trust, who can provide financial guidance specific to your unique situation.
Transitioning from school to your career as a dentist is no easy task. As excited and prepared as you are for this next step, it is crucial to recognize that it doesn’t come without challenges and a learning curve. Remind yourself that all new dentists are just starting out and that you have plenty of time to learn and grow. Use any missteps as an opportunity to do improve for the next time. Lean on your mentor or peers if you need support in your career, as they probably have experienced something similar during their career.
If you are looking for guidance around getting your financial house in order, Spaugh Dameron Tenny is here to help you. Our team of financial planners is prepared to assist you every step of the way. For over 50 years, we’ve helped dentists and physicians with comprehensive financial planning services.
For over 50 years, Spaugh Dameron Tenny has provided comprehensive financial planning for physicians and dentists across the U.S. In addition to providing personalized advice, we walk our clients through their options to help maximize finances and maintain financial security.
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