By: Savannah Craig
Dentistry is a great career because there are so many ways to practice.
There are dentists who focus on esthetics, some who prefer surgery, and others who are successful by sticking to fillings and crowns.
Some offices are open long hours and weekends, other dentists only work 2 days a week.
The variety of practice models can feel overwhelming for dentists seeking associate positions, but it also means that there are multiple ways to be successful in this profession.
Beginning Your Search for Your First Dental Job
When beginning your career search, I think it is important to make a list of what is most important to you.
What are your non-negotiables for the office you’ll work in?
- There may be certain procedures that you really want to perform.
- You might have a vision of what type of patients you want to treat.
Now list the things that would be great additions to the practice but wouldn’t be a deal breaker.
- Do you want to work in a practice with a lot of technology?
- Would you prefer to work 4 days a week?
- Is there a location you want to practice in?
As you come across different offices, look back at your list and make sure they fit your criteria.
The practice owner is looking for a good fit, but the practice has to be a good fit for you, too!
The best advice I was given was to talk to and visit as many offices as possible.
Trust your gut during that initial first impression of the practice. You’ll be able to tell if this practice, these people, and the philosophy of the office are a good fit for you, and what you’re looking for.
Talk with staff members and patients to get a feel for the culture of the practice.
Check online reviews to understand what the patient’s experience may be like.
Talk to the associates, especially previous associates, about the practice to get their perspective.
The more information you can gather about the office, your fit, and the culture the more informed you can be in your decision making.
Money isn’t everything. It can feel like you’ve waited and sacrificed for so many years, but now is not the time to rush into something.
You will spend more time at work with your co-workers than with your own friends and family, so it’s important that you enjoy what you’re doing.
Be honest with yourself about what you’re looking for in the job, regardless of the price on paper.
Look at your expected budget and be sure you can pay your bills, have fun, and pay off your loans with the expected income from this job.
Ask the owner for details, numbers, and spreadsheets so that you understand if the office can support you.
Be sure that this office has enough work to support you as an associate.
Be Realistic in Your Search for Your First Dental Job
It’s important to be realistic during your job search.
- Make sure that you have a lawyer read your contract and ask your mentors for advice.
- Protect yourself as the employee and know what it looks like if you terminate your contract.
Unfortunately, many first-time associate jobs do not work out. Try to go into your first job with eyes wide open but know that you’re not alone if you find that it wasn’t what you expected.
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