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Life as a New Dentist

Life as a New Dentist — Practice Owners

Dentists posing with dog

Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty, Dr. Larry Dougherty and Emma

The ADA is made up of individuals — here’s one two of them.

ADA New Dentist Now: Who are you?

Ana: I’m Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty, a proud member of Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine class of 2008. I’m the co-owner of a dental practice in San Antonio, Texas with my husband, Dr. Larry Dougherty.

Larry: That’s me, Dr. Larry Dougherty, also Nova 2008. In addition to our practice, which we started from scratch about 2 ½ years ago, I teach dental anatomy one morning every week at the dental school here in San Antonio.

ADA NDN: Is this part one of your master plan or is this “happily ever after?”

Larry: Eventually I’d like to own the building rather than leasing space for the practice. I’d like for us to be known for having one excellent practice, rather than having multiple locations.

Ana: I don’t know that I’ll ever be in a “happily ever after” phase professionally. I have too much to accomplish.

ADA NDN: If you could have any job OTHER THAN dentistry, what would it be?

Ana: I’d be an actress living in Paris. This almost happened!

Larry: I would either be composing music for children’s television shows or working one of those jobs like in MONEYBALL where I analyze statistics to help professional sporting team make personnel decisions.

ADA NDN: Biggest surprise since leaving dental school?

Ana: I thought life would get a lot easier after dental school, but mostly it has just been a new set of challenges. I’m completing my teacher certification in yoga and I hope to teach some of what I’ve learned to my fellow dentists.

ADA NDN: Any advice for someone wanting to follow your career path?

Larry: Get involved with organized dentistry. After school there isn’t that built in group of peers and advisors, and that’s what I get out of being a member.

Interested in sharing your experience as a new dentist? If you are fewer than ten years out of dental school we’d love to hear from you! Contact us at newdentist@ada.org

One simple trick to improve your experience at networking events

LeadershipWe are well underway with plans for the ADA 28th New Dentist Conference taking place in Kansas City, Missouri July 17-19, 2014 at Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center (registration is open now!)

One of the great benefits of the conference is the ability to network with new dentists from across the country, as well as with key ADA leaders. But we know that not everyone is immediately comfortable in a networking environment.

We came across this great list at The Daily Muse of 21 Ways to Make Networking Less Scary and More Fun. Here’s one tip that stood out for us:

Approach Pairs, Not Singles

“If you see a pair of people talking, the chances are that they arrived together and know they should be mingling. Or else they’ve just met and are, in the back of their minds, worried that they’re going to end up talking to this one person all night. (You’ve just made it easier for one of them to exit.) Either way, they’re relieved to see you. And your chances of having a decent conversation are better, because now you’re talking to two people, not just one.”

What about you — do you have any strategies that work well in a networking event? Leave your answers in the comments.

Working on the Weekend?

Pocket watches in a bunchWhen it comes to work/life balance, one common piece of advice is to avoid working on the weekends whenever possible. But productivity writer and blogger Laura Vanderkam, writing on the Fast Company blog, suggests that work on the weekends might just be the key to a successful work/life balance.

Working on weekends is the flipside of having flexibility during the week, notes Vanderkam. Taking the time during the week to have dinner with your family or attend a child’s event might create a deficit in your number of working hours, and it makes sense to fill that gap over the weekend.

Of course not everyone uses Saturday and Sunday as days off — we’ve chatted with numerous dentists who see patients on one or both of those days. What about you — do you ever take time on your days off to catch up on paperwork or address other work obligations? Leave your answers in the comments.

What is the Accountability System for your Goals?

Pocket watches in a bunchBig dreams are great, but if you don’t create space in your life for making progress toward them, then they’re fantasies, not goals.

That’s a quote from productivity expert Laura Vanderkam who goes on to write:

Build an accountability system–a friend, a group, an app–that will make failure uncomfortable. If you’ve got a run scheduled for Tuesday morning, and on Tuesday morning it’s 25 degrees out and your warm bed seems pretty enticing, what is going to motivate you to get your shoes on and go?

Here’s the thing — if you are a new dentist, chances are you’ve already aced this skill. We continue to be amazed at the level of not just ambition but bona fide accomplishment that new dentists bring to their lives.

So what’s your secret? What kind of system do you have in place so that when the going gets tough you persevere? Give us your answer in the comments.

Life as a New Dentist — Transitioning to Ownership

Dr. Tyler Scott

Dr. Tyler Scott

The ADA is made up of individuals—here’s one of them.

Who are you? I’m Dr. Tyler Scott. I’m a proud member of the Class of 2009 of the Ohio State University College of Dentistry. Currently I’m working as an employee in my father’s dental practice, and we are working with advisors to transfer ownership from him to me.

If you could have any job OTHER THAN dentistry, what would it be? That’s a tough one—this has been my dream ever since I was a kid, so I didn’t ever focus on a plan B that wasn’t dentistry. Although the thought of being a PGA teaching professional or a pro photographer has some appeal.

Biggest surprise so far about this career path? Practice management is such an underlying key to success. I’m working to learn the science of running a dental practice.

What’s your schedule like? I’m working in the office four days a week. For fun I like spending time with my family. I also officiate high school wrestling.

Any advice for someone considering your career path? My biggest influence has been my father. I would encourage everyone to find a mentor to help guide you and increase your chances for success at making your dream become reality.

Interested in sharing your experience as a new dentist? If you are fewer than ten years out of dental school we’d love to hear from you! Contact us at newdentist@ada.org.

Life as a New Dentist — Active Duty – Army

Dr. Keri Jamison

Dr. Keri Jamison

The ADA is made up of individuals—here’s one of them.

Who are you? I’m Dr. Keri Jamison. I’m a proud member of the Class of 2013 of the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, and I am practicing general dentistry at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia before I start my prosthodontics residency in July 2014.

If you could have any job OTHER THAN dentistry, what would it be? My family says I’m the C.E.O. type and my friends think I’m a frustrated interior designer, so maybe I could be the C.E.O. of an interior design firm.

How did you choose this career path? The military paid for my four years of dental school, in addition to providing a stipend, and in return I owe four years on active duty. My prosthodontics residency will be an additional three years so it’s a total active duty commitment of seven years.

Biggest surprise so far about this career path? I should mention that our clinic has 46 chairs with 13 doctors. We mainly see young soldiers right out of basic training and it was a big surprise to find out how many of them had never seen a dentist or had any dental education. We spend a lot of time educating them about oral health.

What’s your schedule like? We see patients Monday-Friday from 7:30 to 4:30. Tuesdays are entirely devoted to new-soldier exams and each doctor will see around 30 patients on a Tuesday. Friday mornings we have physical training starting at 5:45 a.m., and there are classes and CE courses during the month.

What are you doing for fun? I play tennis a few times each week, and since I miss my horses in Kentucky so much I am learning to play polo!

Any advice for someone considering your career path? Be passionate about whatever you choose to do. That way your enthusiasm and drive will be noticeable, whether you are writing a letter-of-intent, or interviewing with a program director.

Future Plans? I believe in always pushing myself and never staying stagnant. I have a lot to accomplish!

Interested in sharing your experience as a new dentist? If you are fewer than ten years out of dental school we’d love to hear from you! Contact us at newdentist@ada.org.

Life as a New Dentist — Veterans Administration

Dr. Rebecca Berry

Dr. Rebecca Berry

The ADA is made up of individuals — here’s one of them.

Who are you? I’m Dr. Rebecca Berry. I’m a proud member of the Class of 2011 of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, and I work for the Veterans Administration health care system in a community-based outpatient clinic in Bangor, Maine.

If you could have any job OTHER THAN dentistry, what would it be? Well it would definitely involve living in London. I spent a month there during undergrad, and I fell in love with the city. Moving there was my fallback plan if I didn’t get into dental school. Who knows what adventures would happen if I moved abroad?

Why did you choose working for the VA? I completed an AEGD at the main dental clinic in Augusta, Maine and I had a lot of encouragement to apply for this position. Some of that time there was a second dentist, but often it’s just been me. I meet up with my dentist colleagues once a week to discuss cases, and I always have someone I can call if I have a question. Being in the clinic on my own really helped me to grow as a dentist.

Biggest surprise so far about this position? I’m the first dentist in my family, so I didn’t have a lot of pre-conceived ideas. Definitely the best surprise has been all the gifts of food from my patients. Homemade pumpkin chocolate chip whoopee pies, 50 pounds of potatoes, moose meat — I really do have the best patients.

What’s your schedule like? I have a four-day week, and each day lasts ten hours. I really like this kind of schedule! I start and end my day with something straightforward, like a denture step or an exam. Then the rest of the day is a mix of surgery, operative, prosthetics and endo. We get a lot of emergency patients as well. It’s never dull!

What are you doing for fun? I enjoy cooking and I’m happy to make an effort to put together a good meal. Fitness is important but I get bored easily. I just did the Tough Mudder obstacle course and I also go to aquafit where I am easily the youngest person by 25 years. And it turns out that I miss academia, so I’ve been taking free, online courses just for fun.

Any advice for someone considering this career path? Do a residency with the VA to see if you like it. It’s very different from private practice. For me it’s a good fit.

What are your plans for the future? I’m very happy at VA. I love working with the veterans; they are very appreciative of the care we provide. I have a great team and my direct supervisor is very supportive so I feel lucky in that regard. My plan is to stay for at least 20 years. If I decide to explore other interests then I’ll still have plenty of time to go down a new path before I hit my 50th birthday!

Interested in sharing your experience as a new dentist? If you are fewer than ten years out of dental school we’d love to hear from you! Contact us at newdentist@ada.org.

Life as a New Dentist — Private Practice

Dr. Vivian Burk

Dr. Vivian Burk with Capo and Missy

The ADA is made up of individuals—here’s one of them.

Who are you? I’m Dr. Vivian Burk. I’m a proud member of the Class of 2011 of the Oregon Health and Science University School of Dentistry, and I am working for my family’s general dentistry practice in Anchorage, Alaska.

My brother graduated from dental school, and he bought our dad’s dental practice, then hired me after my graduation. Our big joke is that now my older brother really is the boss of me!

If you could have any job OTHER THAN dentistry, what would it be? When I was in dental school I had the opportunity to work on some films on the production side, and it turns out I have some talent! I like the idea of becoming a Director of Photography on some cool projects. That said I wouldn’t trade my job for the world!

Why did you choose working for this practice? My dream was to be a dentist, not to be a business owner. I see a wide variety of cases, from complicated procedures to cosmetic work, and I have a lot of autonomy. I like that I don’t have someone second-guessing the treatment plans I develop.

Biggest surprise since leaving school? I was anxious about feeling like getting the training wheels ripped off, but it turns out my education prepared me very well. In school that first restoration takes a long time but with practice you gain speed and confidence. I was concerned about speed, but working with an assistant and not having to wait for an instructor to sign off on procedures makes everything go much faster.

What’s your schedule like? I work Monday through Friday, 8:00-4:00. I used to work until five, but now I work through lunch so I can go home an hour earlier. The day flies by, and it means I’m not going home in the dark during winter.

What are you doing for fun? I bought a house and adopted two lab-husky mixes so all of that keeps me busy. I also travel often, especially to see live music.

Any advice for someone considering this path after graduation? In talking with my classmates from school, it’s clear that going to work for your brother isn’t an option for most! I’m very fortunate. Having said that, just because you get along with family outside of work, doesn’t mean you will automatically mesh while you are at work. That’s a dance that takes a little time to finesse.

What are your plans for the future? I’m already where I want to be, in terms of location and practice. I like seeing my confidence grow with experience. My production keeps improving. My family is a real support—we’ve had some big changes and health scares and seeing how everyone helps each other while powering through gives me a lot of confidence in facing the unknown.

Interested in sharing your experience as a new dentist? If you are fewer than ten years out of dental school we’d love to hear from you! Contact us at newdentist@ada.org.

Life as a New Dentist — Solo Practitioner

The ADA is made up of individuals — here’s one of them.

Dr. Joseph Laudie

Dr. Joseph Laudie

Who are you? I’m Dr. Joseph Laudie. I’m a proud member of the Class of 2009 of the University of Missouri – Kansas City, and I am a solo practitioner in a dental practice in Emporia, Kansas.

If you could have any job OTHER THAN dentistry, what would it be? I had previous business experience before becoming a practice owner, and I could see myself running some other sort of business, as well as teaching others how to be successful in business.

Why did you choose being a solo practice owner? I knew that I wanted to own a practice after completing my GPR. I found a thriving practice where the owner was retiring. There wasn’t really a transition; he stepped out and I stepped in. On balance, things went well, and patient retention has been fantastic!

Biggest surprise so far about what you do? Being a business owner can be a headache and involve long hours in the office! While I enjoy directing my business, I cannot do it all by myself. I have found that it’s important for me to do what I do best and let others do what they do best to be successful. For example, offering care to my patients is what I am good at, but designing and building my new website is best left to the web developers. As often as I can, I bring on other professionals to help me with the important parts of my business that aren’t directly connected to patient care like tax planning, marketing, insurance and so forth.

What’s your schedule like? I work four days each week from 8 until 5 with an hour lunch. I see two hygiene patients each hour, and I have two assistants working chairside, with another two members of our team at the front desk. I’m proud to say we’ve increased the number of active patients in the practice by 63% over the past three years, so we are a busy practice!

What are you doing for fun? I have three kids, with a fourth on the way, so that occupies a lot of my time. Family and church helps me to balance out the experience of being a business owner. I am a ham radio operator. And recently I completed the Dirty Kanza bike race – nothing like biking up hills on gravel roads for a couple hundred miles to relax and unwind!

Any advice for someone considering your career path? A GPR was very helpful for me. Not only did it boost my speed and abilities, it broadened my education giving me exposure to dental implants, wisdom teeth, bone grafting and medically complex patients. Plus I am the only general practice dentist in a 13 county radius who is licensed to offer IV sedation. I practice in a rural area and being able to offer these services has been a real plus to my patients.

What are your plans for the future? This is the early phase of my “master plan.” I hope to bring on a second dentist as a practice partner, and to increase the number of referrals I receive from my colleagues who don’t offer the same mix of procedures that I do.

Interested in sharing your experience as a new dentist? If you are fewer than ten years out of dental school we’d love to hear from you! Contact us at newdentist@ada.org.

Life as a New Dentist — Community Health Center

Dr. Kari Cunningham

Dr. Kari Cunningham

Life as a New Dentist — Community Health Center

The ADA is made up of individuals — here’s one of them.

Who are you? I’m Dr. Kari Cunningham. I’m a proud member of the Class of 2010 of Case Western Reserve University. I completed a pediatric residency in 2012, and today I am a pediatric dentist in a community health center in Cleveland, OH.

If you could have any job OTHER THAN dentistry, what would it be? Event planner! I am always planning a social event or fundraiser for the organizations I’m involved in. I have the best time coming up with a theme, creating invitations, promoting the event and seeing it all come together!

Why did you choose this career path? I am a National Health Service Corps scholarship recipient, so I am happy to be fulfilling my service commitment so close to my hometown. I’m passionate about serving the underserved.

Biggest surprise since leaving dental school? I was asked to be an adjunct faculty at dental school! Giving lectures to first year students is encouraging to me — they are so motivated and willing to learn. I just completed University of California, San Diego’s three week faculty development program Addressing the Oral Health Needs of the Underserved.

What’s your schedule like? My job is 8:30 – 5:30. Outside of that I serve on the executive committee of our alumni association, I am active in National Health Service Corps, and being part of a sickle cell family, I have joined the board of the American Sickle Cell Anemia Association. I have learned to better manage my schedule, and I no longer say yes to everything!

What are you doing for fun? I just bought a house, and I’m enjoying the process of turning that into a home. I love spending time with my family and our Cunningham Sunday Fundays. And I’ve got a pediatric dentistry mission trip planned to Kenya that will overlap with my 30th birthday. This will be my second trip to Africa in ten years, and I’m very excited!

Any advice for someone considering your career path? If serving the underserved is your passion, look into the National Health Service Corps and other entities that can assist you in sharing your craft with our nation’s most vulnerable population. For the scholarship, apply early and apply often! Look into loan repayment opportunities as well. Learn about underserved populations and realize how you can play a significant role in improving the lives of many. If you like teaching, find a mentor and volunteer to facilitate small group sessions at your school or serve as a liaison to a pre dental society. Our future colleagues want to learn from you!

What are your plans for the future? Ever since I was a resident I have tracked my immediate, short and long-term goals. Working at this health center as its first and only pediatric dentist is an early part of my plan. Becoming a private-practice owner and teaching in a dental school are my long term goals.

Interested in sharing your experience as a new dentist? If you are fewer than ten years out of dental school we’d love to hear from you! Contact us at newdentist@ada.org.