Dental school requirements — check.
Licensure exam — check.
You’ve just completed one of the most challenging four years of your life. You climbed the food chain from understanding the etiology of caries to restoring them in a variety of ways. You learned a tremendous amount in four years.
Now it’s your first day practicing, and you are about to realize the many things that dental school did not teach you. It’s time to use the team around you to keep learning.
When you interview at different offices, spend time with all members of the team. Talk to the front office, the hygienists, assistants, supply rep, equipment specialists, maintenance — anyone and everyone who contributes to that office is a member of that team and they have value. What will set you apart as a young dentist is realizing that value and appreciating it from the beginning.
As you start practicing, be proud of being a doctor and the skillset that you bring to the table — you are ultimately the decision maker in the treatment. But leadership begins with humbling yourself. Be open about the things you do not know; your team can teach you. I have found that my team enjoys sharing what they know. They feel empowered, as they should. Their insight genuinely impresses me every single day.
Many students ask, how is it managing a team? It comes down to a daily respect for all that they do for me. There is no greater reward than feeling like a new dentist and having your colleagues talk highly of you to the patients you are about to meet. They do this because they respect you, too. If they want you to succeed, you will succeed.
I tell the team ‘’thank you” every single day. Thank you for placing a bite block, for pulling up a radiograph, for filing a chart, for filling the several holes in my new dentist schedule. I would not be the dentist I am without them. I hope you, too, find a reason to be thankful.
~Dr. Andrew Naeger, Texas-Houston ’17, Wright Dentistry, College Station, Texas