Header Logo Band

Life as a New Dentist

So you want to be a practice owner someday: Managing debt to ensure practice success

Editor’s note: This is the seventh and final article in a summer series of New Dentist Now blog posts on practice ownership from Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the practice lender endorsed by ADA Business Resources. To read other articles from the series, click here.

Wells FargoFor most dental professionals, incurring significant debt while completing dental school and acquiring a practice is an inevitable part of becoming successful. The trick is to recognize the types of debt so you can effectively evaluate where you stand – and manage your debt to your best advantage. It is common to think that you are better off financially if you eliminate your debt, which is true with regards to credit cards, auto loans, student loans or other debt that does not help to generate revenue. But there is such a thing as “positive debt” – debt that is used to invest in income-producing activity.

Some types of debt can overwhelm your success

Let’s say that after purchasing your dental practice, you are paying $5,856 per month to cover both business and personal debt, including an office remodel, auto loan, student loan and home mortgage, for a total loan balance of $450,000. Now assume you want to buy a new, advanced piece of equipment priced at $125,000 and the vendor is offering financing with payments of $2,610 per month. This would bring your combined monthly payments to $8,466.

Originial loan

Suppose this new payment wipes out any excess funds you were planning to put towards your retirement. You would now have to consider whether to wait to purchase the new equipment so that you do not jeopardize your retirement funding, cover the additional payment with increased production, or put off saving for retirement. The new equipment loan can therefore hamper your ability to save.

To avoid this kind of debt management crisis and ensure you’re effectively managing your debt situation, work with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) to develop a broad financial picture of long-term personal and business goals. Be sure your plan includes an assets and liabilities spreadsheet, profit and loss statement, and a plan for large annual debt expenditures.

Working with your lender to create “positive” debt

A specialized dental lender can help transform a financial liability into “positive” debt that still allows you to accumulate security and wealth. This may be accomplished through a consolidated loan that minimizes interest and total payments.

Using the example above, assume your lender offers a consolidation loan for $225,000 to cover new equipment and remodeling, and a home equity loan with a somewhat longer term to cover your auto and student loans. The new loan reduces your total monthly payment to $6,891, for a savings of $3,001 a month.

Consolidated Loan

If you invest this difference monthly, you may eventually have a healthy fund for your retirement. Or, you can use this savings to reinvest in your practice, including:

  • Technology investment. You might use your new-found funds to leverage the purchase of advanced technology that allows you to expand your services and make your practice more competitive.
  • Enhanced marketing. Reinvesting your added cash in a well-thought-out marketing program can potentially lead to more patients and procedures for your practice. If well-planned and executed, your expanded marketing efforts should generate additional cash flow.
  •  Accelerated Debt Payoff.  Some doctors take advantage of lower interest rates to accelerate their debt reduction program and become a debt free practice more quickly.

By managing your debt situation through the use of long-term financial planning and, if necessary, loan consolidation with a specialized dental lender, you can move a long way towards building a successful practice that meets your ultimate goals.

¹Interest rates cited are indicative only. Actual interest rates depend on your creditworthiness.

Creating positive space: An essential for your office environment

This post is for Tiffani Horton, and for everyone else who is fighting a battle on the inside.

I’m against watching the news. Other people can watch the news all they want to. That’s fine. I just don’t want to watch it myself.

Dr. Vaughn

Dr. Vaughn

I don’t want to watch the news because buried in every news reel is a sad story. A story that reminds me I’m not invincible, I live in an imperfect world, and that sometimes bad things happen that I cannot control.

And unfortunately, regardless of whether or not you watch the news . . . sometimes a sad story still finds you.

In dental school, you rotate through many clinics. You meet a lot of faculty and a lot of patients and a lot of staff. And what’s nice about all this is that the conversations aren’t always about what X-rays you want to take or whether or not you’ve made the right diagnosis. Sometimes you talk about your weekend or what you plan to do once you graduate or how good the new restaurant in town is. You form this unique bond with all these different people, and it eventually creates this special thing with its own label.

The other night, a good friend sent me a message that told a sad story. Someone from my dental school had just lost her battle with cancer. Her name was Tiffani. A dental assistant that I, along with everyone else in my class, had weekly interactions with.

Ms. Tiffani Horton

Ms. Tiffani Horton

Tiffani was more than a name or a dental assistant. She was a friend, a wife, a mother, a person with thoughts and wants and emotions and ambitions. She talked to some of us like she had known us for years. She helped some of us get patients so we could take our licensing exam and become dentists. She was very much a part of our dental school family.

But the thing about all of this is that I had no idea that Tiffani was fighting this battle. She had liver cancer and was undergoing chemo. All while I was still in school. There were conversations I’m sure that we had, where she was living with this horrible disease . . . and I did not know.

Buried in every news reel is a sad story. But what I’m learning is that buried in every sad story is a truth that I need to know.

Because me and you and everyone we know are all the same. We all have bad days. We get bad news. We go through hard times. We hit rock bottom. And then we have to go out in public and try to be strong and keep it together.

Tiffani teaches us that you never really know what someone is going through.

What does that mean for us as we try and figure out this New Dentist world? It means that we have the vital responsibility of being aware. Of keeping social sensitivity as a priority within our practices. Because our staff will have bad days. Our patients will tell us horrible stories from their pasts. Our business partner might be dealing with chemo treatment or secretly going through a heart-wrenching divorce.

And as people who have dedicated their careers to serving others, we need to create space that allows people to escape the troubles of their daily lives. What does this look like? At its core, it’s being aware and paying attention. Picking up those social cues from your staff. Treating everyone in your office with the care and respect they deserve. Not letting your own troubles affect the way you talk to and interact with the people around you.

From the modern corporate office in Chicago to the paper-chart practice in rural Alabama, you can contribute to making the world a better place just by changing the environment of your dental office. A good dental office is one where honesty, respect, care and love are infused in its fabric.

Because you never really know what another person might be going through.

Dr. Joe Vaughn is a New Dentist Now guest blogger. He grew up in Alabama and recently graduated from The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry in 2015. He now lives in Seattle, Washington, where he attends the General Practice Residency at the University of Washington. Two cups of coffee, writing and indie music are everyday occurrences for Joe. Go Seahawks and Roll Tide!

My New Dentist Life: Dr. Emily or Dr. Hobart?

Editor’s note: This is the second 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. To read previous articles in the series, visit ADA.org/mynewdentistlife.

Dr. Hobart

Dr. Hobart

After five years of undergrad, one year of studying for the Dental Admission Test and working as a dental assistant (In addition to two other jobs — applying to dental school is expensive!), four years of dental school, several written and clinical board exams, applying for my South Carolina license, applying for my South Carolina controlled substances license, applying for my DEA license and filling out a mountain of credentialing paperwork so that I can accept every insurance known to mankind…

As of last week, I am finally a practicing dentist!

My first week (I started Aug. 3) working at Family Dental went, to my surprise, really well. Besides having to get to know a new computer program (Eaglesoft), which slowed me down, everything went swimmingly.

I have to say, I was quite nervous the Sunday night before my first day. All that I could think about was the fact that I had not touched a handpiece in about three months.  Dentistry really is like riding a bike though. My first few patients felt as natural as if I had never left the clinic. I did a lot of comp exams and recall exams, several extractions and fillings (composite and amalgam) in one week — more than I had done in a few months in dental school. I also started a few dentures and had one root canal, which I thankfully was able to use my WaveOne that I rush-ordered! And most importantly, I met a lot of great new people — patients and staff.

The one awkward thing that happened this week, was when my office manager asked me what I wanted the staff to call me. At first she had been calling me Dr. Emily (which I think was because nobody knew how to pronounce my last name correctly).  I surprisingly get mispronunciations of my last name a lot, which is odd to me because it is only two syllables. I really had to think about it when she asked me. She is about my age and most of the assistants are about my age. In my head I was thinking, “You can just call me Emily.”  But in front of the patients? When I was an assistant, I called the doctors that I worked for Dr. _____ or doc. Eventually we decided on Dr. Hobart. Dr. Emily had a very pediatric dentist ring to it. This definitely caused me a little more anxiety than I would have thought though.  Being called “doctor” is just something that I have never experienced! It was a funny moment.

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!

Colleague Connection — Christina Ciano, D.M.D.

Editor’s note: Colleague Connection is a new feature of the Journal of the New Jersey Dental Association. Our first member-to-member profile is of Dr. Christina Ciano (NJDS – 2010) interviewed by David Lepelletier, D.M.D., (NJDS – 2012) a member of the NJDA Committee on New Dentists. Dr. Ciano’s pediatric dental practice is in Princeton, N.J.

Dr. Ciano

Dr. Ciano

Describe your path so far (pre-dental to present)

After growing up in Old Bridge, NJ, I attended Rutgers University as a pre-pharmacy student. I spent a summer working at Pathmark Pharmacy and quickly realized that pharmacy wasn’t for me. Luckily for me, my roommate’s dad was a dentist and introduced me to the world of dentistry, and from then on I was excited to be in pursuit of this great career. I did my dental school at UMDNJ and went on to complete my pediatric dentistry training at Columbia University.

What has been the hardest part of being a new dentist?

The hardest part about being a new dentist is trying to build rapport with your patients (and their parents) in a short period of time. With youth comes the assumption of inexperience and that is an obstacle that is difficult to overcome. I can’t make myself any older! But like anything else, the longer you do, the more confident you are and after a while I think that my patients would realize that although I’m young, they can trust that I know what I’m doing.

Why did you decide to open a practice relatively soon out of school?  What would you suggest to others in your situation?

Dentistry is a great profession and one of the things that makes it so special as far as healthcare professions go is that it affords you the opportunity to be your own boss and own a small business. There are just too many advantages to having your own practice and I always felt like I wanted to follow through with that. For me, I carried that mindset with me throughout my training and it made the transition easier because the decision had been made well before I actually did it.

My recommendation to others would be to do whatever you feel would make you happy. The reason dentistry is still a great profession is because of its flexibility. If owning your own office doesn’t seem like something that would make you happy, then don’t do it! I know many people that have found amazing associateships and feel very happy to not have the added stress of ownership.

What’s your take on group practices?

I think group practices are the trend in dentistry now. Patients are looking for convenience in a lot of different ways and having everyone under one roof is a nice service to provide for the patient. I think they make interdisciplinary cases easier to manage and make overall communication more precise.

How do you balance life/dentistry?

It’s a constant effort to keep my life in balance. I’m married with a young son and I’m expecting another baby at the end of the summer. I am very fortunate to receive a lot of help from family and friends and I think that makes things easier. Whenever I’m not working, I make an effort to spend quality time with my family, whether it’s something as simple as going out for breakfast on a Sunday or going to the beach for a day.

What do you do when you’re not working? 

When I’m not working, I spend as much time as I can with my husband and son. We enjoy spending our time outside, going for family bike rides, and walks around the neighborhood.

Describe a typical day for you.

I wake up and get lunches ready for everyone and get my son ready for the day. I drop him off at daycare and head over to my office. I have a “Master To Do List” at work where I prioritize what needs to get done. So whenever I have down time in between patients, I can focus on what’s important. My list includes marketing tasks, bill payment, insurance issues, ordering supplies, and all other things that need to get done to make the practice work. As a new office, a large proportion of my patients are new patients, which is great because I can take the time to get to know them and their families. After the work day is over, I head over to pick up my son and we go home and play, read, make dinner, etc.

What’s the most influential CE you’ve taken since graduating?

I took a course on starting your own practice a few years ago called Breakaway by Dr. Scott Leune. The course was like a playbook of what needs to get done in order to start your own office and it gave me a blueprint for my office. As a life-long student, I was yearning for a manual of sorts; something for me follow in order to figure out what to do, and Breakaway did that for me.

Why was now the right time to start your practice?

Now or never! I would imagine there are very few people who regretted starting their practice shortly after school, and probably a lot more people that wish they hadn’t waited so long. I had been out of dental school nearly 5 years when I started and I think that’s enough time to have a good hold on the dentistry side of things. And as far as the business side of things, you can’t really prepare for that. You just learn as you go.  A professor in dental school once told me that you are never going to be more financially ready to struggle then when you have just graduated from school.  You don’t have large expenses yet, you don’t have a huge mortgage or fancy car payments and it’s not as big of a sacrifice as it might be later on.  And I always remembered that.

Why start your own practice instead of buying? 

I actually looked into buying a practice before starting my own. I think that buying into an existing practice makes a lot of business sense. Unfortunately, at the time, there really wasn’t anything out there for purchase so I decided to bite the bullet and start from scratch.

What’s the vision you want for your dental career?

I hope to never lose my desire to learn and improve as both a dentist and a practice owner. I thoroughly enjoy going to CE courses because they rejuvenate my interest in being the best dentist I can be. I want to take care of the kids in my community and hope to see them grow into great adult dental patients. One day, I would love to teach dental school students or residents. I feel that is a great way to both give back and get a lot in return.

What do you think is different for a young dentist vs. what it was like to start a career twenty years to thirty ago?

Three words: Competition, and patient expectations. The dental field is far more competitive than it once was. There are just so many of us now! Opening is not as easy as just hanging up your shingle and waiting for the patients to walk through the door. In addition, patients have higher expectations for their healthcare. They want more of a say in their treatment and have expectations that every visit will be smooth and pain-free. As new dentists, we have the advantage of being up-to-date on the latest dental technology and being able to offer our patient state-of-the-art treatment.

If you would like to be profiled in a future issue or would like to interview a colleague, please contact Lorraine Sedor, managing editor, at 732-821-9400 or lsedor@njda.org.

This blog post, reprinted with minimal edits and permission, will be appearing in the upcoming issue of the Journal of the New Jersey Dental Association.

Finding value in ‘newness’ in your new dentist life

Dr. Joe Vaughn starts his cross-country drive June 8 from Birmingham, Ala. to Los Angeles to San Francisco to Seattle.

Dr. Joe Vaughn starts his cross-country drive June 8 from Birmingham, Ala. to Los Angeles to San Francisco to Seattle.

I drink two cups of coffee a day. Minimum.

Sometimes, I don’t even want to drink that second cup. I do it because I feel like I have to. Like people will look at me in a strange way if they found out. I can hear it now. “You only drink ONE cup a day?!” they would gasp.

Let me explain.


(From left to right) Drs. Joe Vaughn, AJ Fennell and Ben Samuelson sightseeing in Los Angeles on a June 11 trip.

I’m a Seattleite. A new one. A very new one. My waiters still do double-takes whenever they see those beautiful red “ALABAMA” letters plastered across the top of my driver’s license.

I graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry just two months ago. It wasn’t seven days later before I had my entire life packed up in a moving truck heading across the country for Seattle, Washington. It was just me and two of my classmates. Traveling the country. Driving all through the night. Experiencing America as we never had before and may never again. The trip of a lifetime.

I grew up in Alabama. I ate middle school lunch pizza in Alabama. I studied college physics in Alabama. I spent my childhood looking into the eyes of Paul “Bear” Bryant and Joe Namath in the paintings above my parents’ fireplace. As a teenager, I sat in the stands amongst 100,000+ people in Tuscaloosa all yelling “Roll Tide” at the top of their lungs every time our team did something even remotely exciting.

So what am I doing here? Why am I sitting in this minimalist coffee shop in the Emerald City? Why do I eat Thai food now and drink lattes and ride the bus twice a day? Good question. Let’s talk about it.


I think there’s value in “newness.” Something new, something different. I have friends that will buy the newest version of the iPhone no matter how long it’s been since the last one came out. The iPhone is their fix of newness. That works for them, and that’s awesome. In a weird way, they are an inspiration to me.

For us dentists, finding that change, or that newness, is just as important. We all hear about those stories of the older guys who have fallen out of love with dentistry. The ones who have lost touch with their younger selves and just can’t wait to get out of the office. We may have even had a classmate or two drop out of school because they couldn’t handle the routine.


Dr. Vaughn and Dr. Devon Cooper on graduation day in Birmingham.

Newness gives us and our profession a tune-up. Seattle is a big change for me. But one day, I’ll have to find another source of newness.

Because newness is not geographical. You don’t necessarily need a new city. Your newness will probably be different than mine. It could be a specialty. A procedure you’ve never tried before. A new technique to an old procedure. Working one day each week in a community health clinic. Joining a social club. Reading a book. Challenging yourself with ideas you’ve never considered before. You could keep a journal or write a blog. Play an instrument. Bake something.

Whatever it may be, the point is to keep you, your life and your job fresh and fun and totally worth all that hard work you put in to get it. And a healthy happy you makes for a healthy happy profession. Which means me and you and everyone we know benefit from the newness you and I decide to add to our lives.


Dr. Vaughn with one of his clinical faculty members, Dr. Rama Kiran Chavali.

Dentistry promises great things. It is so overflowing with potential that even its opportunities have opportunities. But we always run the risk of falling into the pattern of dread and routine. And before you realize it, all of your techniques and equipment and philosophies are 15 years behind the times. Don’t be that dentist.

Instead, join me in adding newness to your life, whether it’s work or personal. And in turn, keep our profession crisp. Fresh. New. We are a part of one of the greatest professions in America, and we have our entire careers ahead of us.

I don’t know about you, but I can certainly “Roll Tide” to that.

Dr. Joe Vaughn is a New Dentist Now guest blogger. He grew up in Alabama and recently graduated from The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry in 2015. He now lives in Seattle, Washington, where he attends the General Practice Residency at the University of Washington. Two cups of coffee, writing and indie music are everyday occurrences for Joe. Go Seahawks and Roll Tide!

UIC assistant professor receives inaugural ADA award for new investigator in dental informatics

Dr. Emiliya Taneva of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry received the first Robert H. Ahlstrom New Investigator Award for Dental Informatics Research.

Dr. Taneva

Dr. Taneva

The award, named after the first chairman of the ADA Standards Committee on Dental Informatics, aims to highlight the crucial role that dental informatics standards play in improving the quality of patient care, assuring patient health and safety and increasing efficiency through use of information technology.

Dr. Taneva, a new dentist and clinical assistant professor at the Department of Orthodontics, received the honor for her paper, “3-D Evaluation of Palatal Rugae for Human Identification Using Digital Study Models.”

Her research documented the palatal rugae as identifiers in a 3-D manner comparable to the use of fingerprints.

“My master’s thesis project involved developing and utilizing a 3-D approach for human verification and identification using the palatal rugae pattern,” she said.

Dr. Taneva said she sees 3-D digital study models obtained with intraoral or model scanners for diagnosis and treatment planning being “integrated in the personal electronic health record, which can be requested and accessed by forensic institutes and law enforcement.”

The implementation of the algorithms, she added, could bring a major impact to the biometrics and forensic odontology fields and create new standards for interoperability and transmissibility, and for acquiring and transferring patient data in open source formats.

Dr. Taneva credits her mentors — Dr. Carla Evans, who heads the Department of Orthodontics; Dr. Andrew Johnson, associate professor of Computer Science; and Grace Vianna, statistician, Depatment of Orthodontics — for the award.

As the recipient of the Ahstrom award, Dr. Taneva will receive airfare and accommodations to present the award-winning project at the ADA SCDI’s annual meeting Nov. 2-4 in Washington, D.C.

Applicants for the award must have received their D.D.S. or D.M.D. degrees no more than five years prior to the time of selection. The awards committee and the ADA Council on Dental Practice will select the winner. For more about the ADA Standards Programs, visit ADA.org/dentalstandards.

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.