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Life as a New Dentist

10 common excuses for avoiding exercise

Dentists, like anyone else, know that it’s important to stay fit. And yet how many of us tell our physicians that we want to be healthier, but (fill in the blank yourself) gets in the way of exercise. Do you believe your patients when they say they have no time to floss, or that it is too difficult? Didn’t think so! Adopting a healthy lifestyle is a no-brainer if you want to feel better, look younger and live longer, according to the ADA Center for Professional Success.

Center for Professional SuccessLet’s challenge 10 common excuses:

I don’t have time. Make time. Keep it simple. Try exercising just five minutes a day. If you can’t go outside for a brisk walk, try doing some pushups, sit-ups, squats or lunges somewhere in the office. Take the dog for a walk yourself instead of nagging your children or hiring a dog walker.  Start with something easy. Once you’ve learned to fit it into your day, consider expanding to 10 minutes. And so on.

I have kids. Play with them. Take them to the park. Combine exercise and bonding time . . . it’s fun and healthy.

Dentistry takes up all my time and energy. All it takes is a couple minutes. Working out will energize, unwind and de-stress you if you make the time.  If your schedule permits, block off 10 more minutes at lunch, and walk around the block.

I’m too tired. Lack of exercise makes you more tired. Working out refreshes you.  Did you try that 10 minute walk suggested in #3?  It’ll perk you up more than a 2 pm caffeine break!

I’m sick or injured. It’s one thing if you’re really ill, with a fever or serious medical condition. In those situations, rest is better than exercise. The same applies to serious injuries. Minor ailments are a different story. Most of us can still exercise with the lesser illnesses and/or injuries we use as excuses.

The gym is too expensive (or too far way). You don’t need to join a gym to exercise. Work with what you have. Walk or run outside. Do bodyweight exercises indoors—at home or in the office. Free yoga and other instructional videos are available online.

It’s just too hard. Don’t strain yourself . . . start easy, with five minutes of walking or five pushups. If that’s too hard, then start with two minutes of walking and two pushups. Take baby steps and start small. Gradually progress as your body builds endurance.

I’m not good at it. No one is good at it when they start out. You have to learn, and everyone has to start somewhere. The most important thing is getting started.   Remember how long it took you to place that first occlusal restoration?  Bet you’re faster and better now.  Exercise is exactly the same—the more you do, the better you become.

The weather is crummy. Don’t let the elements limit you. Have an indoor and an outdoor plan. Even if your indoor plan exists only as a back-up to your outdoor regimen, it’s a good option to have.

I’m not motivated. Motivation is a mindset. You can find it in knowing that moving your body can be fun, exhilarating and age defying . . . and that a sedentary lifestyle will actually hurt you.

My New Dentist Life: From graduation to South Carolina

Editor’s note: This is the first article in a New Dentist Now blog series, My New Dentist Life, following a new dentist’s first year experiences out of dental school. The views expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author and are not intended to reflect the views, positions or policies of the ADA or the New Dentist Committee.

Hello!  My name is Emily Hobart and I am a new dentist.

Dr. Emily Hobart at graduation.

Dr. Emily Hobart at graduation.

That felt an awful lot like introducing myself to a group of complete strangers at a self-help meeting. Although in all reality, that is what I am here to do – help!  I have been tasked with updating the masses – curious dental students, fellow new dentists and seasoned dentists alike – on all of the nitty gritty details of what it is like to be a new dentist, fresh out of school, right now. Throughout the year I will share my story. But who knows, I may just end up candidly dishing my embarrassing first-year blunders. I am as interested as you are to see how this all pans out. Either way it should be a lot of fun!

But first, some background.

Deciding where to practice

Like I mentioned, I am a brand new dentist. I just graduated from Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine – Arizona in Glendale, Arizona with the fun-loving Class of 2015.  After surviving D4 year, which felt very much like a circus with all of the hoops that we had to jump through – NDBE Part II, NERB/WREB and all of their components, clinical competencies, and (oh yeah) delivering top notch patient care – here I am!  With all of the busy day-to-day activities of fourth year, focusing on the future was not a priority for me. I found this to be a good thing because for me the future was a blank white canvas. I am unmarried, without children, and my family lives on opposite ends of the continent – I could literally go anywhere and do anything I wanted.  As freeing as that sounds, it was actually pretty scary.

Dr. Hobart and her classmates walking  to graduation to the tune of bagpipes. (photo by Rachel Heinz)

Dr. Hobart and her classmates walking to graduation to the tune of bagpipes. (photo by Rachel Heinz)

A timeline of Dr. Hobart’s journey from her last year of dental school to practicing in South Carolina.

A timeline of Dr. Hobart’s journey from her last year of dental school to practicing in South Carolina.

Having grown up in Glendale, less than 5 minutes from Midwestern, I was ready for a change. But like I said, I had no idea where I wanted to go. Because of this, I took both NERB and WREB since my school offered both. I was one of two students in my class to do so.  I basically wanted the freedom to work in as many places as possible. This meant that I had twice the requirements, twice the cost, and unfortunately, twice the stress!  The anxiety of these exams didn’t come from worry about my abilities – by that point I knew what I was doing – it came from the variables that were out of my control. Will my patient show up?  Will I have enough time to complete the exam with the long grading lines? I suffered through this twice. If you would like my opinion on either exam or how they compared, just ask.

I finished up all of these requirements and moved on to the job search in early April (which I panicked was too late because I had many proactive friends who already found jobs at that point). I narrowed down my focus to the South (How different can you get?), namely South Carolina and Georgia. I soon found out that Georgia would not be a possibility because they only accept the CRDTS exam – which is exactly the same thing as NERB. If I wanted to work there, I would have to retake the exact same exam – find (and possibly pay) patients, fly myself and them to a school in a state that holds that exam and pray that everything works out the first time. Lesson learned: The real world doesn’t always make sense.  But now that I narrowed down which state I wanted to work in, I could start applying for my license.

Getting my license

Dr. Hobart with Dr. Russell Gilpatrick, dean of Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine.

Dr. Hobart with Dr. Russell Gilpatrick, dean of Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine.

Of course, I couldn’t actually apply for my license until the week of my official graduation date when my school would send the states of my choosing a copy of my official transcript.  I applied for a license in Arizona even though I didn’t intend to work there right away because I wanted to have a standing license in a WREB state in addition to a NERB state (South Carolina).  Another lesson learned: This process takes a long time!  (Although it depends on the state and the time of year that you apply.) I applied for both licenses on May 11, Arizona by paper application and South Carolina online. My Arizona license came about two weeks later on May 27. I didn’t get my South Carolina license until July 13 – a full nine weeks later.

How I found my job

Having been an ASDA district trustee last year and involved in the organization for all four years of dental school, I had made connections with recruiters for a lot of group practices by helping to set up sponsored events. I interviewed with several group practices in South Carolina because of this. I also used the ADA Career Center to help me find job openings in the state. I fell in love with Dental Dreams (which I found with the help of this tool), interviewed, and I was offered a job with Family Dental in Columbia, South Carolina, in early May. This process, though daunting, was way easier than I thought it would be.

My start date was supposed to be July 13, but since I got my license on that date, I wasn’t able to start. Once my license arrived, I had to apply for my controlled substances license (required by some states) before I could apply for my DEA license. I also had a stack of new hire and credentialing paperwork to fill out. With any luck, I will start soon.

SouthCarolinaRoad tripping to South Carolina

To get from Arizona to South Carolina, I employed my favorite form of travel – the road trip! My boyfriend and I packed a car full of stuff, and I had my car shipped across the country. Four days on the I-40 was exciting because I saw states that I had never seen before. I even got to stay with my friend Dr. Daryn Lu, former ASDA vice president, in Oklahoma City.

Dr. Hobart did an "escape the room" in Oklahoma City to escape the torrential downpour outside.

Dr. Hobart did an “escape the room” in Oklahoma City to escape the torrential downpour outside.

When I arrived in Columbia, I spent a few days apartment searching. I had done a lot of pre-research, but I needed to see the places for myself. I picked one, but in true real world fashion, it wouldn’t be ready for about a week. I took a “forced vacation” in the meantime, road tripping to Myrtle Beach, Savannah, Charleston and Charlotte. Columbia is thankfully close to so many other cool cities.

Next time: My blog post is about my first week on the job! I promise it won’t be as long as this one!

Dr. Emily Hobart is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and an estranged Canadian who grew up in Glendale, Arizona, where she attended dental school at Midwestern University. She is now finding her way as a new dentist in Columbia, South Carolina. In her free time, she loves running, rock climbing, pub trivia, karaoke and traveling!

New Dentist Conference, ADA annual meeting inspire new dentists, dental students

Westwood, Calif. — While many 2015 dental graduates are busy looking for or settling into practices, one of their fellow graduates is urging both them and dental students to mark some days in early November on their calendars.

Dr. Mendoza

Dr. Mendoza

The New Dentist Conference, which for the first time will coincide with the ADA annual meeting, which takes place in Washington, D.C. from Nov. 5-10. New dentists can participate in both meetings this year and experience all ADA 2015 has to offer, featuring high-level networking opportunities during Leadership Day; a new dentist reception at Penn Social; inspiration from keynote speaker Daymond John, entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” co-star; an exclusive, customized continuing education track featuring real-time interactive technology and more.

Dental students and new dentists alike should make every attempt to attend both events, said Dr. Kristopher Mendoza of the UCLA School of Dentistry Class of 2015.

He should know, considering that he is the immediate past president of the American Student Dental Association and has been an active participant in two past ADA annual meetings.

“It’s a great time to recharge and see what’s beyond dental school,” Dr. Mendoza said.

The 25-year-old dentist, who has just begun a three-year residency in dental anesthesiology at UCLA, said that while the advantages of attending the annual meeting are myriad, one in particular is especially useful for dental students and new dentists.

“One of the greatest benefits for students at the annual meeting is definitely networking with other dentists and students,” Dr. Mendoza said. “Everyone there is extremely helpful, helping the next generation of dentists. They want to see you succeed.”

New Dentist Conference 2015There are several reasons why connecting and interacting with students and more established dentists is important, Dr. Mendoza said. One is that dental students close to graduation and new dentists are seeking jobs, and he has found that some of the established dentists have looked at dentists to join their practices or even sell their practices to.

A second reason is that the ADA annual meeting exposes current and new students to a national community of dentists who provide perspective and inspiration. Attending dental school can place students in a bubble but going to a conference with hundreds of other people who had gone through the experience or were going through the experience invigorated him, he said.

“It was my break,” Dr. Mendoza said. “It helped keep me going. You’re not the only one going through it. It gave me a better outlook on the dental field.” It helped Dr. Mendoza because when he grew up in Fresno, California, he didn’t have any dentists in the family to relate to.

Dr. Mendoza gets asked frequently from younger dentists and dental students if they should join the ADA. “I would challenge them to explore all that being a member offers,” he said. “The value far exceeds the cost.”

Registration for ADA 2015 is open online at ADA.org/meeting.

For a list of courses planned, visit eventscribe.com/ADA/2015.

Search for #ADADC on Twitter and Facebook for more on the ADA annual meeting.

How to reduce stress

It’s no secret to you, or your dental team, that the dental profession comes with the potential for daily stress that can affect your health, as well as your ability to do your job. Stress can occur in various ways throughout your normal workday.  Handling an anxious patient, performing a not-so-familiar procedure or managing the intricacies of health insurance plans to make sure your patients get the treatments they need can all add up to one big stressor by the end of the day.

Work-Life Balance

Work-Life Balance

New dentists have the added stress of running a new business, learning to manage employees and the added burden of dental school loan repayment.

Here are two common stressful scenarios with some tips from the Center for Professional Success on how to handle them:

“What do I do when I get patients that are tense and fearful?”

This is a common concern for new dentists. When you walk into the operatory, you can easily pick up the anxiety from the patient without even realizing it. To stop this from happening, it’s important to observe the patient carefully. If you notice they are anxious, tell them you understand their anxiety and instruct them to take a deep breath along with you and to let their body sink into the chair. The deep breath (or two) will help them relax — and put you at ease as well.

“I work in a multi-operatory situation and I’m so tired at the end of the day. How can I stop from burning out?”

Time demands on dentists can be difficult. Self-care is important to keep yourself in good running order. Watch your diet — be sure to eat breakfast, a mid-afternoon snack, a decent lunch and a healthy dinner. Don’t forget to schedule your lunch hour on your calendar, so you’re sure to take it. Get some rest during the day — pause for a moment between patients, take a deep breath. Then close your eyes and take a second deep breath. Doing this is like pressing the reset button — kind of like taking a one-minute vacation.

Bang for Your Buck! Prioritizing CE opportunities as a new dentist

We knew all along. We knew there were things we were not learning while we were in school. Now, we’ve made it out. We are practicing dentists. We’ve climbed the mountain, celebrated, taken a deep breath, and turned around to find ourselves at the bottom of another mountain. We know there are things we don’t know. Now what? How do I decide where to start? How do I prioritize what CE warrants my time, effort and money?

Dr. Moon

Dr. Moon

Before elaborating on choosing CE, let me say this: First of all, give yourself a break. You don’t have to save the world your first year as a practicing dentist (even though it kind of feels like you can once you’re treating more than 2-3 patients per day). Use your training to approach cases and treatment conservatively as you build up your confidence and skill level. Don’t get in over your head early. Personally, I believe I spent about six months focusing on my job prior to taking any CE after school.

Once you’re ready to get back at it, make CE choices that benefit you and your patients. After some time practicing, you should have a feeling in your “gut” that if you just knew how to __________ or ________ your patients would benefit and you would feel like a more proficient dentist. Once you have that feeling you are more than halfway there.

I have found that asking myself the question: “Is this good Bang for My Buck?” has consistently helped me make good decisions about how I prioritize my CE. I consider three areas when answering this question to myself:

1. Will learning ____________ benefit the majority of my patients, or a few?

2. Is this topic something very limited or specific, or something I can build upon in the future?

3. Is there a hands-on component to this course, or will I potentially leave this course without the confidence I need to implement what I was suppose to learn?

Answers to these questions usually guide my decisions. I prefer to attend CE that offers benefit to the largest number of patients possible, on a topic or area that can consistently be built upon or integrated into multiple procedures, and especially those that include a hands-on component.

Early on in my career, I found myself focusing on CAD-CAM dentistry and bone grafting procedures. I had come to the realization that the majority of my patients would benefit if I increased my skills in these areas. Also, a basic foundation in these topics is beneficial, but you can learn an extensive amount with either, and continue to build your skills and expand the number of billable procedures you provide. Again, once you know what you want to learn, incorporating a hands-on component will make you that much more confident as you implement your knowledge and new techniques in clinical practice.

For new dentists looking to pick up some valuable CE, I suggest that these two areas are not a bad place to start. Incorporating CAD-CAM dentistry into your practice opens up a lot of treatment options and office scheduling benefits that are not available without it. Also, implant dentistry continues to develop and become a more commonly selected treatment option. Bone grafting and socket preservation procedures help patients obtain optimal treatment results, can often be performed quite easily, and will in many cases be the difference between success and failure concerning fixed prosthodontic and/or implant treatment options. Go get that Bang for Your Buck!

For more information on online and in-person continuing education opportunities, click here.

Dr. Brenden Moon is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and currently serves as Chair of the Illinois State Dental Society New Dentist Committee and sits on the Board of the Illinois Academy of General Dentistry. He began practicing in western Illinois after completing dental school at the University of Mississippi in 2007, and enjoys participating in organized dentistry on the state and national level. Dr. Moon practices in both Public Health and Private Practice settings and is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry, International College of Dentists, Academy of Dentistry International, and the Pierre Fauchard Academy

Part 3: Taking the leap to practice ownership? These ADA resources can help

Let me start off by saying that opening my own practice from scratch was one of the scariest moments in my life thus far. I knew I had a good portion of dental knowledge amassed over the last few years, but what did I know about running a business? I could sit down and talk to patients about decay and occlusal wear; however, could I sit down and talk to a team about the goals of the practice and how to achieve them? What about how much my fees would be for my services, and what insurances I should take? How would I go about preparing my office for HIPAA and OSHA protocols?

Dr. Sinclair

Dr. Sinclair

Many of these questions I later found out could be answered through various departments and locations through the ADA’s resources. In this article, I will be discussing several of those resources that can be huge assets when you decide to make the leap into practice ownership.

The ADA Catalog

Another benefit from the ADA I would like to discuss is pretty self-explanatory. What if I told you that before the practice doors even opened you had to make sure all HIPAA and OSHA guidelines were being followed, and if not, you could be subject to fines which could end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars? A few months before I opened my doors, I would have had a blank stare on my face.  Once again the ADA came to my rescue by having both HIPAA and OSHA compliance manuals readily available. The manuals gave me implementation protocols and procedures to make sure my office was up to date and compliant before anyone even stepped foot inside the door. The ADA Store is an excellent resource where you can find almost any must have item for your practice. Some examples include brochures for patient education, CDT code books updating the latest dental codes, and information regarding creating an internal marketing program. Many of the items are also customizable.

RELATED: Part 1 & Part 2

Starting out I mentioned that opening my practice was one of the scariest moments in my life, but I can also say that it has been one of the most rewarding. With the help of the ADA, I have created an environment that I, as well as my team members and patients, look forward to every day. I know that I will still have plenty of successes and failures along the road, but I look forward to sharing and celebrating these moments with all of you, my fellow colleagues.

This blog post, reprinted with minimal edits and permission, originally appeared in the Virginia Dental Association journal. Dr. Cappy Sinclair is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and a 2009 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Sinclair currently serves on the Board of Trustees at the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, as member of 3M’s Council for Innovative Dentistry, and as an ambassador for the Dawson Academy. He started his own practice Coastal Cosmetic Dentistry 3 years ago from the ground up and is more than happy to share his success and failures with fellow new dentists. He is a member of the American Dental Association and the Virginia Dental Association. To contact Dr. Sinclair, email him csinclair@smilevabeach.com.

Job hunting? Searching for employees? Visit the ADA CareerCenter

The ADA CareerCenter is the official online job board of the ADA and is a great resource for searching dental career opportunities or for recruiting dental professionals.

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 10.37.32 AMAt careercenter.ADA.org, users can search or post job opportunities for dentists, oral surgeons, orthodontists and other dentistry related career opportunities.

Both job seekers and employers can benefi t from this resource. Those looking for a job can sign up for free on ADA CareerCenter to find dental profession jobs listed by location, company and job type; upload resumes; receive new job alerts via email; save and track jobs and apply online. Even more job opportunities can be found offl ine in the Journal of the American Dental Association’s classified pages.

Meanwhile, dental employers and recruiters can use ADA CareerCenter to choose from a wide array of online options to showcase open positions, including basic and featured job postings or Featured Employer upgraded accounts.

For more information, visit careercenter.ADA.org.

Part 2: Taking the leap to practice ownership? These ADA resources can help

Let me start off by saying that opening my own practice from scratch was one of the scariest moments in my life thus far. I knew I had a good portion of dental knowledge amassed over the last few years, but what did I know about running a business? I could sit down and talk to patients about decay and occlusal wear; however, could I sit down and talk to a team about the goals of the practice and how to achieve them? What about how much my fees would be for my services, and what insurances I should take? How would I go about preparing my office for HIPAA and OSHA protocols?

Dr. Sinclair

Dr. Sinclair

Many of these questions I later found out could be answered through various departments and locations through the ADA’s resources. In this article, I will be discussing several of those resources that can be huge assets when you decide to make the leap into practice ownership.

The Center for Professional Success

There are very few places where one may find legitimate answers to questions that arise when opening a practice. One of the best resources I have found is the ADA’s Center for Professional Success (CPS). Here you can find several must-know items such as: how to design your office if you are building a new building or remodeling an older space; how to adhere to government regulations regarding human resources issues and employees; and how to navigate the world of filing dental benefits for patients.

Personally, I used this resource to help with the initial design of my office as well as coming up with an employee manual. Furthermore, the CPS also includes articles that discuss items outside of work that are still just as equally important.

One section I highly recommend everyone check on a regular basis is the link that gives suggestions on achieving a work and personal life balance. As the owner of a business, I have found it very easy to be consumed by dentistry alone and not make time for your personal life. With all of these amazing resources under one roof, the ADA is truly aiding in setting dentists up for both personal and professional success.

To read Part 1, click here.

This blog post, reprinted with minimal edits and permission, originally appeared in the Virginia Dental Association journal. Dr. Cappy Sinclair is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and a 2009 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Sinclair currently serves on the Board of Trustees at the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, as member of 3M’s Council for Innovative Dentistry, and as an ambassador for the Dawson Academy. He started his own practice Coastal Cosmetic Dentistry 3 years ago from the ground up and is more than happy to share his success and failures with fellow new dentists. He is a member of the American Dental Association and the Virginia Dental Association. To contact Dr. Sinclair, email him csinclair@smilevabeach.com.

Part 1: Taking the leap to practice ownership? These ADA resources can help

Let me start off by saying that opening my own practice from scratch was one of the scariest moments in my life thus far. I knew I had a good portion of dental knowledge amassed over the last few years, but what did I know about running a business? I could sit down and talk to patients about decay and occlusal wear; however, could I sit down and talk to a team about the goals of the practice and how to achieve them? What about how much my fees would be for my services, and what insurances I should take? How would I go about preparing my office for HIPAA and OSHA protocols?

Dr. Sinclair

Dr. Sinclair

Many of these questions I later found out could be answered through various departments and locations through the ADA’s resources. In this article, I will be discussing several of those resources that can be huge assets when you decide to make the leap into practice ownership.

ADA Benefit Plan Analyzer 

Shortly after setting up my own practice, I was contacted by one of the local representatives of a dental benefit plan. They wanted to know which carriers I would be in network with and also inquired about participating with them.

Since I was just starting out my own practice without any patients, I knew that participating with insurance plans would provide me with an influx of patients. However, I wondered what it would cost me down the road. Just as a refresher, if I became a contracted provider with this insurance company, I would be held to their fee schedule and would only be allowed to charge a patient what they had deemed an appropriate fee. For example, let’s say if normally I were to charge $1,200 for a crown but the insurance company only allowed a charge of $800 for their patients; then I would be looking at a loss of $400 in profit without even picking up the hand-piece. Looking on the opposite spectrum I also had to consider that by becoming a participating provider I may have an increase in 25 new patients a month as opposed to 5 without participation.

This arises the question of how do you know when it makes sense financially to participate with an insurance company? Well, good news, the ADA has developed a benefit plan analyzer that gives you information to see if participation with a certain insurance company makes sense for your office. The program will actually sync with your current system and give you a rating from one to 100—100 being in the best interest and financially speaking for the dentist to participate with the plan. There is nothing worse than starting a practice participating with 10 or 15 insurance plans only to be busy but not productive. It can be a very tough road to recovery from there, which is why I recommend you take a look at this program to help you make those decisions from both a capacity and financial perspective.

This blog post, reprinted with minimal edits and permission, originally appeared in the Virginia Dental Association journal. Dr. Cappy Sinclair is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and a 2009 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Sinclair currently serves on the Board of Trustees at the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, as member of 3M’s Council for Innovative Dentistry, and as an ambassador for the Dawson Academy. He started his own practice Coastal Cosmetic Dentistry 3 years ago from the ground up and is more than happy to share his success and failures with fellow new dentists. He is a member of the American Dental Association and the Virginia Dental Association. To contact Dr. Sinclair, email him csinclair@smilevabeach.com.