I Wish I Had Known…Exploring My Options

Dr Ryder Waldron

Dr. Ryder Waldron

By Dr. Ryder Waldron

When I was in dental school I was under the incorrect assumption that all dentists were private practice owners. I thought that I either had to buy an existing practice from a retiring dentist or start my own from scratch. I became a practice owner right out of dental school. It was a struggle to make ends meet for several years.

I wish I had explored more options.

  • I wish I had a course in dental school to help me with that exploration
  • I wish I had started researching before my third year in dental school.
  • I wish I had considered an associateship, an employee situation, or other approach to earning a living immediately after graduation

Ask yourself this question: Why did I choose dentistry?

  • To be your own boss?
  • To earn a comfortable income?
  • To set your own hours?
  • Because you’re a people person?
  • Because you’re good with your hands?

These are all questions that I wish I had answered before setting out on a career in dentistry.

The good news is that it all worked out and I’m thrilled to be doing what I love every day. But I could have saved myself a lot of time, stress and money by doing more research prior to graduation.

That said – now that I’ve been there, I’ll know to take a step back and evaluate things before I make any major career changes in the future. I will get advice and input from other dentists who have come before me. And I will continue to share what I’ve learned with my dentist colleagues along the way!


Dr. Ryder Waldron is a proud member of the class of 2003 of Marquette University School of Dentistry and the co-author with Dr. Marcus Neff and Dr. Troy Stevens of the book So You Want To Be A Dentist? What you Must Know To Succeed In Dentistry.


  • When you think about attending dental school you’re not really thinking about building your practice right away. But to be successful you do need to have a business course just to understand where you go from dental school to having your own practice or in a partnership. This course would be ideal for all dental students once they have completed their schooling.

  • The best thing I did was be an associate for a year and then acquired the practice. It was great experience and it has been self rewarding making a difference in my patients.

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