How Residency Can Lead You Toward Your Self-Determined Future 

By: Savannah Craig

At IgniteDDS we’ve built a belief that to be in control of your life and your destiny you must have systems and procedures in place to give you control over 3 big things in your life and practice.

Those three things are People, Process, and Production.

If you can take control of these three aspects of your dental career you can make your life whatever you want it to be. You don’t have to be a practice owner to put this philosophy into practice.

3 Areas to Gain Control Over in Your Life and Practice

Here is an example of how I used my residency experience to learn how to take control of these 3 areas of how I practice to help guide me toward my self-determined future. 

1. People

In dental school, we didn’t work with dental assistants. Sometimes you were lucky to have a classmate help you, but primarily you were on your own.

Dental school doesn’t have time to teach us about leadership and team building on top of clinical skills, so working with an assistant and the rest of your dental team can be overwhelming for new dentists.

Residency was my first introduction to learning to work with an assistant and communicate with office staff to help my patients and appointments run smoothly. 

Residency gave me a controlled environment where the staff had protocols in place to help guide me through this transition into a more clinical setting, rather than an academic. 

The dental team in residency knew that we were new graduates and were understanding and patient with us while we figured out how to lead and collaborate with a team.

Now those skills I learned in the supportive environment of residency are serving me well at my first job.

2. Process

You don’t know what you don’t know, but without a plan, no one can follow your road map to success.

While dentistry is a team sport, the rest of the team follows the lead of the dentist. If you are unsure of your treatment plan, your assistants aren’t going to know how to help you communicate with your patients.

Coming out of dental school, I wasn’t comfortable with large and complex treatment plans. Residency gave me a chance to figure out my own approach to these patients while having support from my attendings to guide me through it.

With a year of practice under my belt I feel more confident in my own treatment philosophy and how I practice so that now my new team can follow my lead. 

3. Production

Once you graduate dental school, you can no longer take 4 hours to do a crown prep or 2 fillings.

In order to be successful in this field you have to be able to produce in an effective and efficient manner.

Residency gave me one more year to increase my speed, hone my skills, and expand my knowledge.

I often found myself saying I learned more in this one year than in all 4 years of dental school combined. I needed to push myself in an environment where I could be challenged and supported and my program gave me that opportunity.

Now I feel confident in my abilities to do the dentistry I love to do and provide a predictable outcome for my patients. 

Photo by Pixabay

Savanah Craig

Savanah Craig

Savanah Craig is a graduate of Baldwin Wallace University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology. She is currently a 2022 D.D.S. Candidate at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry. She will be pursuing a General Practice Residency in Columbia, SC following graduation. In her free time, Savanah enjoys reading, exploring new restaurants, and traveling.