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Tips for a good start to your dental career (#2)

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The initial responses I have received to recent Oasis posts asking about the smartest and dumbest decisions colleagues made during their first five years after graduation from dental school, and passing on some of those tips, have been very encouraging and interesting.

I wish to share more of these tips over the next few weeks, on an anonymous basis, and I also wish to talk privately in more detail with the colleagues who have indicated to me that they are happy to share more granular information with me – on a confidential basis.

The overall goal of this project is to create a “safe space” resource that will help students and new graduates with the delicate early career decisions they must take as they launch into the brave new world of dental practice. Our team is supporting the Provincial Dental Associations and CDSPI with this project.

Below, I share with you some more tips for students and new graduates that I received from a colleague that I hold in very high esteem. Here goes:

Hello John,

Here are some thoughts I would like to share with young colleagues beginning their career in dentistry:

  • If I could do it all over again, I would not have set up a solo practice. I would have created a partnership or group practice. I would still have been an owner, just not a solo owner. Being on your own is, in my opinion, too isolating and it is too difficult to manage all the costs and stresses alone.
  • I would not have let myself be at the mercy of a practice broker when I bought my practice. I would have been more educated and informed and I would have assessed the practice myself as well.
  • I would have taken outside courses on practice management, employee management and financial management. I would never have let myself get in with the big consulting groups. I did engage one of these “flashy firms” for a while and I found it to be a huge expense with little productive change. They had a pre-canned solution that was big on short cuts and short on ethics.
  • I would have gone to an advanced education institute much sooner than I did. There are a number of good institutes that respected colleagues can advise you about. I needed the boost in confidence both personally and clinically that attending such an institute can provide. I also needed the sense of community and support that came with being exposed to a wide range of expertise. Prior to enrolling I had experienced a huge burnout because I did not look for help sooner. After getting involved with that institute, my love for dentistry was revitalized.
  • I worked so hard at the beginning that I sacrificed my work/life balance severely. I delayed family life and compromised my health. In the end, there were huge tolls to pay for that: no children and health & fitness issues.
  • I would have become involved in organized dentistry sooner. It is truly what I enjoy most right now.

I suppose if there are common themes through my advice, they are: don’t be a professional loner, there are great resources to be found by consulting many wonderful colleagues in our profession, find a balance in what you do in life, and do your homework when dealing with outside agents.

Thank you for allowing me to share this hard-earned advice with colleagues beginning the exciting journey of a career in dentistry.

Best wishes,

L.J. (I have withheld the name of this colleague – JO’K)

To continue the ball rolling on gathering wise advice for our newest colleagues, please allow me to pose the same questions to you:

  1. In the professional context, what was the smartest thing you did during your first five years after graduation?
  2. In the professional context, what was the dumbest thing you did during that formative period?

I would love to hear how you would answer these questions.

Please contact me through the response box below or directly by voice mail at 1-800-267-6354 ext. 5000. I promise your privacy will be respected and guarded by me. Your responses come directly to me and they remain private until we decide together what to do with them.

You are also welcome to reach me on my personal video conference space at https://zoom.us/j/6136144798 to discuss this issue or any other that is pertinent to dentists across Canada.

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