This is the first post in a new series called “Management Monday.” We are excited to bring you career advice, practice management tips and more once a month. If you are a dental student with an interest in these topics or have a mentor who can offer some great advice, email Editor@ASDAnet.org to see how you can blog for us (members only). Now let’s hear from one of ASDA’s international members on what he learned as a new dentist.
I studied dentistry in Egypt at Misr International University. I graduated in June of 2010. Upon my graduation and internship year, I registered for a 2-year oral medicine and periodontology postgraduate program, and worked as a general dentist at a specialized hospital. I’m now about to start a new chapter by working at the reputable Al Kharashy Dental Center in Qatar, while looking into master programs for the near future. Here are 5 things I’ve learned as a new dentist:
1. Prepare while you still can. Dentistry is a competitive profession. Make sure you’re working on your CV in dental school. If you only focus on studying and grades, your CV will basically just have your name and “DDS” after it. Start filling up your CV with compelling attributes. Volunteer, get involved in your ASDA chapter, join professional associations. This will place you ahead of the game when you start interviewing for a job or residency.
2. Get the best out of your internship. Patients in school aren’t like patients in practice. There’s less time to complete procedures in the real world. Internships are a great chance to practice your skills and speed, and build confidence. That is not just limited to craftsmanship, but it also includes developing good interpersonal skills. Invest time in understanding different types of patients that you’re likely to meet in your practice, and learn the different methods on how to work with them and remain in control. No patient will be as calm and relaxed as the typodont you’ve been practicing on. Be tolerant to any questions they ask, and make sure you provide a satisfying and empathetic answer. Whether or not you can get the patient to trust you and be comfortable around you is a major factor in determining the outcome of your work and patient satisfaction. Developing a good doctor-patient relationship will also motivate the patient to listen to and comply with your instructions, which will make the treatment easier for you and them.
3. Keep the science to yourself. Often times I would find myself getting too technical with patients. I’d explain pathologies on x-ray films or speak in incomprehensible jargon. Rookie mistake! It’s challenging, but try to get out of your dental “zone” and ensure that the message you’re tying to get through is straightforward and simple.
4. Gain experience. A lot of freshly graduated dentists are concerned about opening up a private practice. A few obstacles might stand in the way, mainly debt. It’s perfectly fine to not rush into setting up your private practice immediately after graduation. In fact, I recommend it. It’s good to work for a strong leader as a new dentist. You’ll gain experience, knowledge and refine your skills. You’ll get a feel of what it’s like to transition from being a student to an actual working dentist, in a smooth and healthy way. And on top of that, it’s financially rewarding.
5. Finally, don’t forget that dentistry is a science. Dentistry is a beautiful blend between science and art. From my modest experience working with dentists who have been immersed in the profession for several years, I’ve noticed that the “art” part naturally dominates, while the “science” part slowly fades. Stay up-to-date with the latest research and engage in postgraduate studies. Don’t stop being a student just because you graduated.
~Dr. Hussien Mohamed, Misr International University ’10, international member