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  • December 10, 2019

Advice for New Dentists

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Graduation from dental school looms in 6 months, and with it, anxiety may be slipping in.

The long haul – 8 years of undergrad and graduate schooling – is wrapping up, and you will soon be let loose on the dental world.

But if you thought your schooling was over, think again. You are in for an intense “extended residency” in Life as a New Dentist.

There is much advice given to the New Dentist, and all is solid and appropriate. But the forewarning that your real education is about to begin is right on target.

Whether you’re joining a family member in the office, opening your own practice or signing on with a group practice, there are some valuable tips – from how to dress to office attitude -- that were shared with the ADA by New Dentists:

  • Show respect.
  • To gain trust and respect from colleagues and staff, you have to consider how you treat others. Mom taught us the Golden Rule for a reason.
  • Dress the part.
  • Strive to look professional with a quality lab coat – maybe even embroidered with your name – and office-appropriate dress beneath. As a young person, you’ll need to assume a more mature persona, and clothes can help. Clothes make the man and woman, they say.
  • Communicate.
  • Be authentic and positive by providing constructive feedback, expressing gratitude, and discussing disappointments with staff. It extends to the patient too who should be informed honestly about test results, exams, prognosis and treatment options.
  • Be confident.
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Place your trust in your education, knowledge and skill. But don’t be arrogant. No one likes condescension.
  • Accept responsibility.
  • Consult with others but take “extreme ownership” of every decision you make. Of course, an important resource available to you is the Chicago Dental Society, the ADA and fellow dentists. Not only can organized dentistry provide you with some bumper rails as you start out, many members can provide you with valuable advice and encouragement during this challenging career period. They can emerge as mentors and trusted colleagues when you face unfamiliar paths or circumstances. That kind of fellowship is hard to come by outside of membership.

You may feel like you’re all alone, but help is out there. It’s up to you, however, to seek it out and make the most of it. By signing up for branch or regional meetings, weekend workshops or study clubs, you expand the community that can help you.

Be confident in your education, in your hard-earned clinical chops and your aspirations. Like many of us starting out, you’ll second-guess your choices and your stamina, but stay the course. You felt a calling to dentistry that culminated in a dental medicine degree. But now that you’re out in the world, instruction begins anew. Keep in mind, as a new dentist, time is on your side.

Photo by RapidEye, copyright istockphoto.com.


The views expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily the opinions of the Chicago Dental Society.

CDS presents Front Desk, a column addressing issues facing dentists and staff members experience in the office.

Front Desk is prepared by Stephanie Sisk, a freelance journalist.

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