Dental school is only the tip of the iceberg. The more I learned, the more I realized what I didn’t know. A general practice residency (GPR) was the next logical step.
I was looking for a small residency program with sufficient fixed prostho and endo experience. What I got was exactly that plus significant oral surgery experience, my own full time assistant, and a wealth of mentors who also teach for some of the best continuing education institutes in the country. Being one of two residents at the NorthShore University Hospital in Evanston, Illinois, my dental education is specific to my interests and my patients’ needs. My attendings ask me what I want to learn, and that’s what we pursue. The attendings are truly there because they love to teach and want to help me succeed as a general dentist.
I also wanted a program where I had responsibility. I wanted to deal with emergencies and difficult cases. In dental school, all difficult cases were sent to the graduate specialty clinics, or an oral surgery resident would swoop down and save the day. I needed to learn how to take care of business myself. I alternate the call schedule every seven days with my co-resident, covering four hospitals within the NorthShore University System. Every time I get paged and go in for an emergency, I see something I have never seen before and learn something valuable. Being on call is never time wasted. It is exactly what I needed.
If you’re interested in a GPR, it’s important to know what you want out of the experience. Go visit the program and talk to previous residents. You can find more information about my GPR program here. All programs are very different, so you need to do your research.
I still find plenty of time for the gym, spending time with loved ones and enjoying Chicago. I am more than happy with my GPR experience and already feel confident about entering private practice. And to think, I still have six months of learning left.
Dr. Carolyn Norton is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and a 2014 graduate of the University of Florida College of Dentistry. She is half way through a 12-month general practice residency at the North Shore University Hospital in Evanston, Ill., affiliated with the University of Chicago. Dr. Norton was a contributing editor for the American Student Dental Association from 2012-14.