Spooky Facts About Life After Dental School

27 Oct Spooky Facts About Life After Dental School

I could not wait until I was out of dental school. Graduation day in May of 1998 was positively one of the most memorable days of my life. Honestly, it wasn’t because of all of the pomp and circumstance—although Lloyd Carr’s commencement speech was pretty good. It was because I knew I was free. I would not have to jump through anymore hoops: no more trips to the patient coordinators’ offices when patients did not show up, no more long lines to get instruments, no more difficult requirements to fulfill. I could just be a dentist.

That idealistic sense of freedom lasted about two months, and then the reality of every day dentistry started to sink in. This was still going to be hard, but in a different way.

Here are a few spooky facts I wish I had known about early in my career:

  1. Running a business is more difficult than the dental work itself. I wish I had taken at least one business class during my undergraduate experience. Accounting would have been helpful.
  2. Managing people and getting along with people is more time-consuming than ever expected. It’s hard to help others get better and better at something. After being in dental school with non-stop competition and being in a culture of higher education, it is easy to lose touch with how everyone else sees the world. It took me awhile to loosen up my rigidity and need for perfectionism when it came to dealing with my team. I still struggle trying to be precise and rigid with my dentistry standards yet more relaxed with my team standards. They do not always equate one another.
  3. I never realized how important a plan and a vision are to a team. The team wants to know what the plan is…where the ship is sailing…and what tools will be needed for the journey. If we just set sail, and hope for good winds, we often become disappointed in the place where we land. A well-thought-out vision becomes the cornerstone to any practice.
  4. Everyone will not like me. I kind of knew this, but I think I hoped my team would like me, and I hoped that every patient would like me. In reality, we all have different personality types and we all choose our doctors in different ways. Aim to please everyone, but do not spend hours worrying about the handful that do not like you.
  5. Learning to manage money is paramount. Whether managing a debt load or simply saving for retirement, knowing the basics of these topics is essential. Paying off the highest interest loans first can save thousands of dollars over the life of a loan. Read books, attend seminars, and buy business best sellers.

No matter how spooky the subjects, topics, or patients may be, dentistry is still an extraordinary profession. Gaining trusted mentors and joining study clubs is the best way to make dentistry not so spooky. Dentistry was once an apprentice profession. We learned from one another rather than in a school setting. The knowledge and wisdom gained from having a personal one-on-one relationship with another colleague cannot be over-emphasized. Never be too proud to ask for help, and that can apply to a newly graduated dentist or the seasoned veteran.

There are many evil spirits waiting to catch dentists off guard. But, there are also many friendly ghosts ready to support and encourage the willing and dedicated dentist who is seeking camaraderie.

Happy Halloween to Everyone!

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