You’ve just completed one of the most challenging four years of your life. 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.
Saving for retirement, paying down debt, buying a home or building liquidity — when extra money is tight, where should your dollars go first? At the beginning of a budding career, nothing seems farther away than retirement. It can be difficult to focus on saving for an event 40 years in the future, when today’s needs and desires seem much more urgent.
We receive many questions from new dentists about whether they should save for retirement or pay off existing student loans. While each situation is unique, we do always try to accommodate early retirement saving as much as possible. If you start early, you not only get in the good habit of contributing toward savings and retirement, but you have so many years for your contributions to grow. With that said, many new dentists are unsure of their options to save for retirement. Here are some of these options.
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.
As a dental student or resident, you probably haven’t thought much beyond getting your first job. Once you get your first job, you are going to have a lot of decisions to make. Hopefully, one of the first ones will be to decide what to do with the money from your paycheck that you don’t spend. If you have student loan debt, you might be ready to throw your entire paycheck at your debt. Should you? Maybe, maybe not. It’s different for everyone. But here are some things to consider.
The first rule of dentistry is that you never stop learning. Laying the foundation for lifelong learning — and for earning recognition along the way — is still a top priority. Your dental education continues right into the world of practice. By remaining alert and open to new science, techniques, procedures and instruments, you’ll discover that you get much more right than you get wrong, especially if you don’t get in a hurry.
You finally accept your first job at a great private practice. They offer you $600 a day (about $150,000 a year), and you are ecstatic. You remember them saying something about being an independent contractor, but you didn’t really understand what that meant, so you took the job anyway. Now you are left to figure out what that means.