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Nail that Phone Interview

Man on cell phone

Is this the best way to conduct a phone interview?

We’re putting the final touches on the upcoming issue of ADA New Dentist News, and one of the stories is about dentists finding opportunities in a group practice setting. Many of the dentists we spoke with mentioned that their initial interviews for these positions took place over the phone rather than in-person.

Judith A. Stock, writing for the Fast Company blog, has a list of suggestions for increasing your effectiveness in a phone interview. Some of the suggestions seem common sense (choose a quiet location, use a land line if possible) and some of the tips were new to us (try to find a pic of the person you are speaking with and address your answers to that image while talking) and we especially liked the three Cs of phone interviews—Concision, Concentration and Courtesy.

Concision: Phone interviews are shorter than in-person interviews, meaning less time to make a good impression. Avoid long-winded answers that could lose your audience. Keep your responses to no more than three sentences.

Concentration: Stay focused and take notes during the call. It’s not the time to organize your mail or reply to emails.

Courtesy: Be professional and be polite. At the end of the call, ask, “Do my qualifications meet the company’s needs?” Then ask when you can meet with them in person.

If you have experience being interviewed over the phone, what has been effective for you? And if you’ve ever worn the interviewer hat, anything that interviewees have done that is helpful (or confusing)? Leave your answers in the comments.

ADA Scientific Panel Issues Evidence-Based Clinical Recommendations for Topical Fluoride

open mouthAn expert panel convened by the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs has issued updated clinical recommendations on Topical Fluoride for Caries Prevention. A summary of the recommendations is published in the November 2013 issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA).

The panel recommended the following for patients at elevated risk of developing cavities:

  • professionally-applied 2.26 percent fluoride varnish or a 1.23 percent fluoride gel every 3-6 months
  • home-use prescription-strength 0.5 percent fluoride gel or paste or 0.09 percent fluoride mouth rinse (for patients 6 years old or older)
  • A 2.26 percent professionally-applied fluoride varnish every 3-6 months is recommended for children younger than 6 years old

The full report of the clinical recommendations, a chairside guide for you to use when talking to your patients and an audio podcast summary of the recommendations is available now on the ADA Center for Evidenced-Based Dentistry ebd.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.

Starting a New Dental Practice — Checklist

The ADA Center for Professional Success

The ADA Center for Professional Success

If you’re opening a new dental practice, there are many things to consider, including licenses, local requirements, supplies, insurance, infection control and OSHA, just to name a few.

The ADA Center for Professional Success has a checklist to help the new practice owner stay focused on all these details.

This checklist is just one of the solutions you’ll find at the ADA Center for Professional Success. Resources include financial calculators to factor loan payments and overhead expenditures, ergonomic tips to keep you healthy and patient communications strategies to build trust and increase patient satisfaction. Visit Success.ADA.org today!

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.

Employee or Independent Contractor — What’s the Difference?

The ADA Center for Professional Success

The ADA Center for Professional Success

Sometimes there is confusion over what it means to work as an independent contractor vs. working as an employee. Here’s the IRS on the topic (PDF link):

“An employer must generally withhold federal income taxes, and pay unemployment tax on wages paid to an employee. An employer does not generally have to withhold or pay any taxes on payments to independent contractors.”(IRS Publication 15-A)

So is this just a matter of word choice? Absolutely not!

The ADA Center for Professional Success has more information:

Employees are typically subject to the employer’s instruction, such as when and where to work, what supplies must be used, how work is to be completed and other procedures. Employees may not be required to invest in their own materials and may be eligible for benefits. For an employee, the employer dentist must generally withhold income taxes, withhold and pay social security and Medicare taxes, pay unemployment tax, and afford workers’ compensation benefits.

Be careful though, as being an employee does not mean that the employee dentist can defer ethical responsibility for care. That always rests with the individual professional. “The boss made me do it” is never a good defense!

Independent contractors have more control and are often paid a flat fee for their work. They are not as likely to be reimbursed for expenses, nor to receive benefits and the relationship is usually just centered around the end results of the work, not the time at or means by which those results are accomplished. There is generally no requirement to withhold or pay taxes for independent contractors — the burden is on the independent contractor. Keep in mind that the final test comes from what actually goes on in the relationship. The label on a piece of paper doesn’t matter as much as the day-to-day workings of the practice.

If the IRS believes that a worker has been mis-classified, the business may be liable for back taxes. And it’s important to note that part-time or full-time status is not a deciding factor.

If you are concerned about the classification of those who work for you, or of the classification of yourself as a worker, it’s important to consult with a local employment attorney in your state of practice.

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ADA members — check out the ADA Center for Professional Success at Success.ADA.org. Resources include financial calculators to factor loan payments and overhead expenditures, ergonomic tips to keep you healthy and patient communications strategies to build trust and increase patient satisfaction.

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.

Real Talk from New Dentists in Private Practice

Dr. Jill McMahon

Dr. Jill McMahon

The panel discussion Real Talk from New Dentists in Private Practice just concluded. The wide-ranging conversation covered topics from improving efficiency to marketing the practice.

According to the most recent ADA Survey of Dental Practice just over 88% of dentists are owners, either as solo practitioners or partners. For almost every dentist, ownership becomes a consideration at some point in his or her career.

Earlier this year ADA New Dentist News spoke with several new dentists who were new to practice ownership to get their suggestions on how to approach ownership. Dr. Jill McMahon, who graduated from dental school in 2007, is not just the first dentist in her family, she’s also the first small business owner.

“At first it was scary, thinking about all the new responsibilities, and of course the new financial obligations that go with ownership,” Dr. McMahon remembers. “What helped a lot was connecting with other dentists who were in my situation and realizing that if they could do it, I could do it too!”

If you are attending the 2013 ADA Annual Session, you have lots of opportunities to connect with other new dentists. But if you aren’t at the meeting, what’s on your action plan to make sure you can get that real talk from other new dentists exploring their private practice options? Share your suggestions in the comments. And if you don’t have any networking events on your calendar, may we suggest the 2014 New Dentist Conference July 17-19 in Kansas City, Missouri.