Welcome to the New Grad edition of Dentaltown. If there's one thing you learn in dental school as you develop new skills, it's this: There is tremendous value in taking the time to do things right the first time. Dentistry is a challenging profession with a human element; employees, patients and teeth will not always behave in the same way you learned in school.
When I graduated from dental school in 1995, I had the honor of giving the commencement address. I adapted my opening line from Forrest Gump and asked, "If life is like a box of chocolates, then why was dental school such a bitter experience?" It attracted the attention of my classmates as well as dental school professors. One of the many possible answers to that question: "Dental school is not real life."
Chances are, you've already figured this out for yourself. An objective observer realizes that dental school needs to be that way so that everyone can learn, while the real world of dental practice is filled with so much variation that you could never learn all you need to know in four short years. I'd encourage graduates to pursue a hospital-based general practice residency, as I did, but I realize that's not the best option for everyone. One thing you must realize and accept is that when you graduate, you aren't finished learning.
I started my practice with my wife, who's also a dentist, seven years after we graduated from dental school. This might seem like a long time to wait, but we had separate experiences working for other dentists and, in our case, moved across the country. This time helped us understand exactly what we wanted in our own practice and how to find a proper location. When new graduates rush to make these decisions, they can become disappointed and frustrated, because the real world of dentistry is more than just senior clinic over and over again. The greatest challenge you'll face is the operation of your business; "people issues" are at the top of most lists.
Fortunately, now you're blessed to have access to thousands of dentists around the world—24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The Dentaltown website is a resource for dentists of all skill levels; in your early years of practice, it can be one of your greatest mentors. Learning takes many forms on Dentaltown— you can take online CE courses, participate in message board discussions or learn by reading the interactions of your more experienced colleagues. The companion Dentaltown magazine provides not only some of the best content from our online forums but also original articles and industry news.
We've created this special issue specifically for you; its content within is intended to give you a sample of what's available from Dentaltown. Please take a few moments to complete the free, online registration process on dentaltown.com and maintain your subscription to our magazine. Welcome to the profession!
If you'd like to ask a question, feel free to send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're on Twitter: @ddsTom.