Management + Leadership

Staying mentally well while navigating your professional journey

Dr. Tyler Fix graduated dental school in 2017 and practices at PureCare Dental in Bend, Oregon. Dr. Fix has a career he loves but learned the hard way that the path to professional fulfillment can come with unexpected twists and turns.

First, he learned he had cancer when he was a second-year dental student.

Then, he did not immediately match into oral and maxillofacial surgery residency as a fourth-year student.

Lastly, he quit his intern year in oral and maxillofacial surgery only a few months in.

“Now that I look back, each of these three moments carried a common theme,” Dr. Fix says. “I had the opportunities to search for a real identity — one that followed my own passions and heart, not one that was driven by what I thought success or ‘right choices’ looked like. At some of those junctures, I failed to ask, ‘Am I willing to lose a part of myself along the way?’”

Most dental students know which career path they are going to take by the time they start their fourth year of dental school, but taking the time to apply for residencies or associateships — or even planning to open your own practice — can be stressful and mentally taxing.

Plus, the longer it takes for your career path to take shape, the greater the toll on your mental health. According to Gallup, 18% of people who have been unemployed for at least 27 weeks report being treated for depression, compared to 5.6% of employed Americans.

Job hunting isn’t always easy, and forging the right career path doesn’t always come naturally. Preserving your mental health during tumultuous professional times is important.

Read more in the January 2020 issue of Contour magazine.

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Kelly Rehan

Kelly Rehan is a freelance contributor to Contour magazine.

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