By: Savannah Craig
The night before my first day of private practice felt a lot like the first day of school. I laid out my new scrubs, packed my lunch box, and double-checked my alarm was set ten times before I finally went to sleep.
Of course, I woke up before my alarm with those anxious first-day butterflies in my stomach. In that moment I had to laugh because between all my years of schooling and residency, I’m no stranger to that ‘first-day feeling.
The First Day Outside of Academia
While the anxieties that come with the beginning of a new life phase are familiar to me, the idea of stepping outside of the comfort of academia for the first time brought on additional nervousness.
No longer would I have the safety net of an academic institution, my decisions were under my license now.
I had spent plenty of time researching and visiting the practice I joined, but you truly don’t know what you’ve signed up for until you’re fully immersed in it.
There is a difference between shadowing at an office and working there.
Arriving at the Office for the First Day
Upon arriving at the office on my first day, I was greeted with many new faces!
I did my best to commit as many names and faces to memory as possible. Inevitably, I will still make mistakes and I’m trying to give myself grace for the names I forget.
Being introduced as a “Doctor” still makes me pause, even after a year of residency.
In addition to new names, I had to learn a new computer system, the office layout, and the protocols in place.
The hardest part of my first day, thankfully, wasn’t the dentistry. The challenge of my first day of work was learning how the office functions and finding how I fit into this system.
And Just Like That, the First Day is Over
My first day went by in the blink of an eye. It felt exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. Looking back, we helped people and that is the most important part.
My team and I are still figuring each other out. Every dentist is different, so it takes communication on my part to make sure I have what I need during procedures.
I got advice from a mentor who recommended meeting with my team at the end of the day to discuss what went well and where challenges remained so that we could improve for the next day.
That advice was so valuable to me because it allowed me to set a system in place for improvement and open dialogue with my team.
Additionally, it served as a reminder for us not to be so hard on ourselves. It takes time to build the rapport and chemistry of a long-experienced dentist/assistant team and we have so much time to get to know each other better.
Recognize Where You Are & How Far You Have Come
Not so long ago I was going into my first day of dental school and this day of starting my career in private practice seemed so incredibly far away.
Yet, somehow I have achieved my dream and have started my career. It felt important to take a step back and acknowledge how far I’ve come.
Yes, there is a lot still to learn, but there always will be. Don’t forget to celebrate the wins along the way.
Life is more about the journey than the destination and my journey of my career is just beginning.
Photo by Anna Shvets