Being a resident has its highs and lows. I love being a resident — so much so, I became a pediatric dental resident after completing a one-year GPR. Completing a residency allows you to grow clinically, improve clinical thinking skills, and further develop critical interprofessional and communication skills. However, it isn’t for everyone.
Think back to your personal statement for dental school. What did you say in it? My bet is that you mentioned something about your desire to help people. About how you knew a dentist somewhere who helped someone in a way that only a dentist could. About how that experience planted in you a desire to do the same thing. That one day, you hoped to be a dentist who not only did that for every one of your patients but also for the world! OK, so maybe you said it with more tact or with less drama, but I have read enough prospective student personal statements to know that a good number of applicants include that to some extent. Now imagine if that dream came true.
I considered writing this post about obtaining the ideal associateship. I quickly realized, though, that “ideal” is misleading and different for everyone. Our goal should be a successful associateship — one that creates success for both the associate and the practice. This looks different across the board, but in my experience in several different environments, the following have been keys to success — or causes of failure.
You think you are finished. After surviving your classes and practicals and passing boards, you prepare for graduation and then you realize you have yet to figure out what exactly you’re supposed to do next. That was me in summer 2016. I had been so consumed with my school work and extracurricular activities that I neglected the reason why I came to school — to get a job.
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.
Imagine sitting in the waiting room of a dental office at your first associate interview. You’ve prepared all night and put on your best suit. You meet with your potential employer, and everything is going great — until he/she asks an inappropriate personal question.
If you are considering pursuing a residency after dental school, you may feel overwhelmed by the options. Residency programs are small, and reliable information can be hard to find. Every one will have its own unique advantages and drawbacks, and it will be up to you to network and find information on the individual programs that interest you. I am currently halfway through my 12-month AEGD residency at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System in San Antonio, Texas.