Empathy is defined as “the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another.” For dentists, empathizing with patients is not only good practice.
Many dental professionals are drawn to a career in education. Some of the benefits are obvious: You get to give back to the profession by passing on your knowledge; you gain prestige from your participation in an academic program; and you can depend on a stable (though low!) income. In addition to those, there are other, more unexpected benefits that come with a career in dental education.
For many of us, part of the decision to become a dentist was based on our desire to work independently without a “boss.” While that may be the goal, even those who intend to become business owners and independent practitioners may have to report to someone along the way. Most will start off working for someone else, whether as an associate in a dental corporation or in a private dental practice. While you may be the preferred provider for many patients in the practice, in order to truly succeed in these initial positions, you will need to figure out how to build a good relationship with your boss and get the most out of your time in that practice.
If you’re like us, you’ve always wanted to be a health care provider because of the desire to care for others. While that may be the answer to why you chose to practice dentistry, you also have to decide how and where you will practice. Once you’ve made these decisions, you will have the roadmap to your future — or your vision. But making these choices might be difficult. To start, think about where your passion, as well as your ability to sustain yourself and contribute to society merge. Herein lies your vision.
If things are going as planned, it’s likely that in the near future, you will (finally!) be searching for a job. While finding a job may be your next most difficult hurdle, once you find a job, you will get one chance, and one chance only, to negotiate the best job package you can for yourself. Your negotiating power ends the moment you sign on the dotted line. But when you know that you have no experience, and you’re completely ecstatic that you found a job that you like, how are you supposed to find the wherewithal to negotiate for yourself?
At this time of year, we have become accustomed to answering two questions asked by third-year dental students. The first is: “Should I apply to residency programs?” The second is: “How do I know which residency program is right for me?”
Your job during the course of your dental education is to learn what you need to become an excellent practitioner. Much of that knowledge needs to be applied in order for you to learn effectively. Although your school provides you with patients, some of them seem to slip through your hands (metaphorically speaking, of course). Patients are here one day, but gone the next. Some leave because they’re frightened. Some leave because they can’t afford the treatment. But some leave because they don’t want to do what you’re suggesting needs to be done. Since your success in dental school depends on your ability to get your patients to agree to the treatment you recommend, it’s important to understand how to achieve a higher rate of case acceptance.