Early on, we learned that winning a game of Go Fish or Hide-and-Seek was positive. It gave us a reason to celebrate or be celebrated. Without some competitive spirit, few of us would be here. You’ve probably been first (or close to it) a lot. You’ve compiled a list of “wins” neatly into a CV and presented it proudly. It’s part of who you are and why you’re in dental school. But here, all of your peers have similar résumés. Some may be more impressive than yours. An unfamiliar territory for most, this comparison becomes a source of negativity for many.
From the Archives
You may be thinking, “How could skills with a pen translate to skills with a perio probe?” It may sound tongue-in-cheek, but journalism had me convincing people to open their mouths years before dentistry. Hear me out. The central focus for both dentistry and writing is people. There is no story without a person, nor is there a procedure without a patient. Yes, that can be said for anything from business to baseball, but what dentistry and writing share is unique.
Although the number of women in higher education is growing, they have yet to achieve equity. This gap is prominent in dentistry, where men outnumber women in school and in practice. In the 1960s, 10 percent of students in medical, law and MBA programs were women. In the 1990s, the number of graduate student women began to outnumber men.
We have all heard classmates say, “I hate public speaking.” Some might have chosen dentistry with the intent to avoid public speaking. In reality, you will give many speeches throughout your dental school education and career. These speeches may not involve podiums, but the messages are no less significant. On a daily basis, we talk to patients, faculty and our peers. All of these interactions reflect on you as a professional.
After working as an associate for a couple of years, you’ll start thinking seriously about whether to become an independent practice owner or remain an employee for your career. This is a personal decision and there really isn’t a right or wrong answer, unless you make the decision based on bad information. I’ve heard dental students and recent grads share a few misconceptions over the years about what it’s like for those who choose to become business owners. I’d like to set the record straight here. Here are the three biggest myths about owning a practice.
Most students and faculty who organize and participate in overseas mission trips are motivated by the sincere desire to help others. Often they pay for their own travel through combinations of personal assets, donations and active fundraising. I think these mission trips are well-intended acts of caring. However, as a public health dentist I question the decision to spend so much time and money providing services that generally do very little to eliminate the underlying disease process, do not empower communities to improve their health status and waste resources on travel that might be spent in a much more cost-effective way to achieve improved oral health.
One of the most well-known ideas in the business world is: “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” What this really means is that when you decide to do something, there is always something that you could have done instead, but chose not to. The “thing you could have done” is a lost opportunity. You gave up something to do or get something else. This idea is known as “opportunity cost.”