There is nothing that is possible in dentistry that is not possible for any new dentist. And that’s saying a lot, because the possibilities in the profession have never been greater. A license to practice dentistry today is, in effect, an opportunity to write your own ticket.
But as with most great opportunities, the rewards go to those who are prepared to seize them, and that preparation is not something that comes with the diploma. It comes with mastering the essential drivers of success that are in force in any practice. Most dentists work for many years before they master these essentials. Some never do. A few “get it” right from the start, and they’re the few that really tap into the incredible rewards that dentistry has to offer.
To be one of the few, you have to approach your first five years in practice – whether as a start-up owner, or as an associate – as an intense residency period during which you get a crash course in dental practice reality and get up to speed quickly on what the best practices are doing.
Ultimately, the success you will enjoy in your career is largely a measure of how soon you do the following:
- Master clinical expertise. Dental schools do a great job of providing a solid foundation for a career, but it’s up to you build on that foundation by getting the advanced clinical training that exemplifies today’s top dentists.
- Master value creation. You can be the best clinician in the history of dentistry and it won’t do you much good if you can’t make your patients see that value. Effective case presentation is an art in itself – and since it ultimately determines what kind of dentistry you get to perform, you want to be a virtuoso.
- Master the business of dentistry. Remember that your best interests and your patients’ best interests go hand in hand. It’s no secret that it’s the practices with the healthiest business operations – sound financial management, effective team leadership, a focus on consistent profitability and growth – that have the resources to provide the highest level of patient care.
So how do you achieve this mastery this quickly? Help is all around you, but you have to make it a point to position yourself so you can make the most of it. Start by signing up for local evening CE lectures and retreat weekend workshops. Join study clubs and other peer organizations. Use online resources like our course library and Spear Talk forum. If you’re starting as an associate, join forces with a successful senior doctor who will take the time to mentor you. Hire the right advisors who can guide you past the pitfalls and give you the benefit of years of collective practical wisdom. In short, surround yourself with people who see your higher value and who will keep you accountable to your career plan.
Do these things right – and do them right now – and your successes will accelerate and compound to the point where you achieve complete professional, personal and financial freedom by mid-career. I believe every dentist deserves this kind of return for their commitment to the profession, and I believe every dentist can achieve it.
The fact is, if you’re a young new dentist you are already rich in one vital way: You have time on your side. But as with any kind of wealth, it’s what you do with it that counts.