Things I Wish I Had Known Right After I Graduated

It is a long, difficult, tedious and expensive journey to earn the right to practice dentistry. It is then only understandable that you want to dig right into those teeth and get some work done. You know you’ve learned it all, invested it all and it’s time to reap the benefits of it all. But, maybe not just yet. Most fresh graduates are starry eyed, very confident and believe they are on the other end of the learning curve. And this enthusiasm more often than not leads them to make the wrong decisions. 

There is only so much you can learn at school, the rest you just have to rely on your own experiences, and perhaps the experiences of others. This list comprises of the top mistakes dentists fresh out of graduate schools, and perhaps even those a little seasoned too, tend to make. 

Don’t Think about Making Money Initially

If you are like most fresh graduates, finally getting some returns on your investment is somewhere on the top of your priority list. But doing that might come in the way of learning or compromising your work ethics. Think of it this way, you still have a few years of residency left before you can start reaping those much awaited fruits of labour.

Don’t Push Your Boundaries Too Much

You have naïve invincibility of being a fresh grad, you think you can do everything. So you want to do it all; put all your knowledge to practice all at once, but in the beginning it would make sense to play it safe. To manoeuvre in safe territory before you can dig into the more complex processes. You should focus on building up a reputation as a reliable practitioner before making one as a sophisticated and seasoned one. 

Don’t Build Bad Habits, Stick to Your Principles

This is especially true for dentists starting out in the corporate sector. Corporate dental jobs offer security and a stable number of clients. However, they require you to meet certain numbers, which can put added pressure on you. As a result, you may be tempted to rush through patients or not provide optimum care, which can be detrimental to your career in the long run. 

Not to say you shouldn’t go for the corporate side, in fact it is a great place to start so that you can get your hands wet, brush up your skills and build up a reputation for yourself as a skilled artisan. 

Discussing the Financial Aspects

Unfortunately, dental schools don’t teach you how to take care of the financial aspects of dentistry. So you have no idea how to speak to clients about the costs of a procedure; and all of it can become quite daunting and confusing. Be willing to ask how your practice owner wants price and finances discussed with patients. The practice will have policies and processes and you need to learn what these are and follow them.

Entrepreneurial Training

Many of us plan on opening up our own practices at some point in our careers, but not many of us are trained or even well versed on how to start or run a successful dental clinic. As a result, we learn on the go at the cost of easily avoidable mistakes. A good idea would be to read as much as you can about the entrepreneurial aspects of it, network and take up any courses that may offer entrepreneurial training.

Effective Communication

You have been taught how to get your hands into people’s mouth and fix their problems, but you are rarely taught how to calm their restless nerves or talk them through the processes so they can trust you with something so personal. Effective communication is as important for your practice as knowing your craft. Again, this can be achieved by educating yourself, networking and mentoring. 

Try to Connect with Someone

As mentioned above, mentoring can guide you through the rough patches of dentistry. In current times, the best ways to connect is through social media. There are plenty of dental forums and support groups and great mentors who are ready to help that you can reach out to on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn among others.

Value Being Busy Over Location

You may be tempted to get a fancy office at a great location that would look absolutely amazing on your visiting card and professional photographs. But if the view of the ocean or the metropolis is not generating any clients, you may want to switch it for a location that would help you more professionally. If that means moving into another community, city or state, do it! 

Focus On Structured Learning Rather Than Random Small Courses

You may have realised by now that there is still a little more learning to do in order to become a successful practitioner. Fortunately, there is a lot of help available out there, especially online. And while it is great to fly to different states to attend seminars or weekend courses, you would benefit more from a structured form of learning. This can be achieved by following a specific path, that can either be different levels of a designed course or following a mentor and taking up their tutelage and attending any seminars or courses they provide. 

So there you go! This list may not prepare you for the bumpy ride ahead, but will definitely help you be aware of the path so that you can make more informed decisions. Each day will be an opportunity to learn and brush up your skills, and as long as you keep using them to your advantage, you will only go upwards and onwards! All the best and don’t forget to have fun!

P.S. Whenever you’re ready …. here are 4 ways I can help you grow your dental practice:

  1. Grab a free chapter from my book “Retention – How to Plug the #1 Profit Leak in Your Dental Practice”

The book is the definitive guide to patient retention and how to use internal marketing to grow your practice – Click Here

2. Join the Savvy Dentist community and connect with dentists who are scaling their practice too

It’s our Facebook group where clever dentists learn to become commercially smart so that they have more patients, more profit and less stress. – Click Here

3. Attend a Practice Max Intensive live event

Our 2 day immersive events provide access to the latest entrepreneurial thinking and actionable strategies to drive your practice forward. You’ll leave with a game plan to take your results to the next level. If you’d like to join us, just send me a message with the word “Event and I’ll get you all the details!  – Click here

4. Work with me and my team privately

If you’d like to work directly with me and my team to take your profit from 6 figures to 7 figures …. just send me a message with the word “Private”… tell me a little about your practice and what you would like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details! – Click here

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