- Choosing a dental career looks different for everyone. You may choose an associateship, to join a dental group, or to start a private practice.
- Learn to manage your finances and make a plan to pay off your student debt right away.
- A dental career requires other professional skills like networking and continuing education. But, don’t forget to find a work-life balance!
Whether you’re in your first semester of dental school or getting ready to take the INBDE, it’s never too early to start planning your career. After all, that’s the whole point of dental school!
The time right after graduation can be stressful…having a plan in place for your career and finances when you graduate will make it easier. Here’s some advice to consider as you plan your transition from dental student to dentist.
Choose Your Path
The first major decision to make when choosing your professional path is deciding what type of dental career you want to pursue. The earlier you decide, the better!
Perhaps you want to continue your education with advanced studies in orthodontics or dental anesthesiology. Or maybe you prefer to go directly into practice.
If you choose to begin practicing immediately, there are three main paths you can take:
- Associateship: This means you will be an employee of a group practice or of the lead dentist. This type of position will help you with the challenges of starting your dental career and will help you build a reputation in your field.
- Group Practice or Dental Service Organization: This is another way to transition into your dental career if you don’t want to immediately start a private practice. Group practices or dental service organizations connect dental providers and practices. This allows you to work in an office with an established patient base, though you do lose some of the freedoms of private practice. If you decide to join a group practice, be sure to read your contract carefully before signing to make sure it doesn’t include clauses that may prevent you from pursuing private practice in the future (such as a non-compete clause).
- Private Practice: This is a challenging path, but it’s the path 50.3% of dentists choose. There are a lot of benefits to going into private practice. You get to be your own boss and determine your own schedule. You’ll have more earning potential and can take advantage of tax benefits. Plus, most private practice owners report greater job satisfaction.
Mind Your Money
Managing finances can be one of the most stressful parts of life after dental school. Start thinking about this now so you aren’t overwhelmed later.
- Learn to manage your money. If you want to start a private practice in the future, you’ll need to have a solid financial foundation. Learning money management skills now will put you in position to get a business loan when you need it.
- Pay off your debt. If you’ll be graduating from dental school with some hefty student loans, you aren’t alone. Make a plan to pay off your debt and stick to it. Being free from dental school debt will provide financial freedom that will reduce your stress and allow you to prepare for your financial future.
Develop Practical & Professional Skills
Obviously, choosing a career path and learning to manage finances are really important. But there are other skills you’ll want to develop, as well. The good news is, you’re already growing your networking and work-life balance skills as a dental student!
- Professional networking. Even after you get a job, continue working to build your professional network — go to conferences or join local or national dental organizations.
- Continuing education. Once you graduate, you’ll need to stay on top of developments in your area of dentistry and complete your continuing education requirements — take formal courses and attend conferences.
- Find a balance. Being a dentist is a demanding career. You may find yourself working long hours and focusing most of your life on your professional development. Finding a work-life balance is really important — don’t neglect your physical and mental health!
Here at Dental Decks, we know you’ll crush your INBDE with the help of the most comprehensive, most recommended study-aid on the market, and we wish you the best of luck in your career as a dentist!