This year was my second time attending ASDA’s National Leadership Conference (NLC), which was held this past November. Each year, the event gets bigger and better. Now that we’re back to the dental school grind after the conference, it can be easy to return to our routines. But there are a lot of things we learned in Chicago that we can implement now in order to prepare for our careers.
1. Develop your personal brand. Personal branding was a common theme at NLC. Your brand is, essentially, what you do to differentiate yourself. The best part about this is that it doesn’t have to wait until graduation. Defining your personal brand and image now can help you when you apply for residencies, jobs or even open your own practice. Take a minute to look at your social media pages. What image are you projecting for your future patients and employers/employees? Your personal brand should reflect how you treat your patients in school as well as how you interact with staff, colleagues and even your friends. Decide now how you want to portray yourself in the future, even if it is as simple as how you dress, what you post online or how you interact with patients.
2. Start working on your CV. If you are applying for a national ASDA position, you’re in luck because you have to do this anyway! The reality is, developing your CV takes some effort. A wonderful suggestion at NLC during the session “How to Get into a Residency” was to make a CV box and put receipts in it from events you attend, so they can jog your memory as you prepare the CV. Maybe you had a chance to attend the “Hands-on Lesson in CV Writing” session at NLC, so have a solid head start. My suggestion is to make a rough draft of the document now and update it every year. Don’t wait until you are applying for jobs or residencies to start.
3. Decide where you want to go and what you want to do there. There are many different ways to practice dentistry. Essentially, everyone does it a little differently, and obviously student debt and licensure limitations can influence your career path. But as one of my professors said recently, “Figure out which part you are good at, become better at it, then focus your practice on it.” Do you want to treat an older population? Do you want to treat families and get to know them all as they grow up? Do you just want to take referrals, or do you want to help people in underserved populations? Your options are almost limitless, but you will likely start to get a hint of what you like once you start seeing patients. Too often, dental students are bashful about their goals and plans. Don’t be! Own your personal vision, and you will be surprised about who will be willing to help you get there.
The path to becoming a dentist is a long one. While in school, we often feel like our lives are on hold. ASDA and NLC, in particular, remind me that there is a lot more to dentistry than what happens at school. I hope you will spend time thinking about what happens after dental school and some of the little things you can do now to make that transition easier once you are done.
~Lincoln Fantaski, Georgia ’19, Chapter Legislative Chair