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.
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.
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?”
Regardless of which school you’re attending, what grade point average you’ve maintained or how many scalings and root planings you’ve completed, we instantly and unequivocally answer “YES!!!” to the first question.
One of the reasons that many of you have chosen dentistry as a profession is to establish autonomy. You’d like to set your own schedule, take vacations when you please and not answer to a boss. However, patients want to be seen early in the morning and late at night, so your workdays will be long. Patients want to be seen during the weekend, so your weekends will be short. While it’s tempting to believe that you will be able to schedule your patients to meet your needs, you may not be able to meet your financial obligations if you do. If you learn to balance your work and your life while you are in dental school, it may be easier for you to continue to do so once you enter the profession. We have some simple suggestions that might help.
As dentists, we’re in the business of prevention. But what happens when in spite of our preventive efforts, our patients develop a problem? We quickly move into damage control mode to protect our patients’ interests. Shouldn’t we do the same for ourselves?
That’s why we need insurance. When something happens, we want to control the damage and protect our interests. Would you ever consider leaving an auto dealer with your new car and no auto insurance? You have so much invested in your decision to become a dentist, and as a result of this investment, you have tremendous earning potential. Yet although you’d insure your car without hesitation, you still haven’t insured yourself.
Maybe you just don’t know what you need. Unfortunately, both of us got a quick education when we had to use our insurance plans early in our careers. We are hoping that our stories will help to illustrate which insurance coverage you need as soon as you get your license, and why.