I remember it was fall of my senior year in dental school when I met with a dentist about a potential partnership. I was excited about the possibilities and we quickly exchanged contact information. I visited the practice for an afternoon and even met the team. I had also applied to a residency program, so my future carried a certain uncertainty as we stayed in touch updating one another. Throughout it all, I felt slightly overwhelmed with options.
It’s interesting when I reflect back upon that period of my life no more than a year ago. I had worked hard to map out my path as a new dentist. I knew what I wanted to be involved with and the kind of practitioner I hoped to be. Being informed that I was waitlisted (and eventually rejected) for a residency program was devastating at the time. After I learned about my application status, I realized the owner dentist and I had stopped communicating. One moment, options can feel overwhelming. All of a sudden, it’s spring and you’re without plans.
As a senior dental student, you may be exploring certain paths that can suddenly detour. My challenge for you is simple: freely explore the paths that come before you and embrace your own adventure. I see my future as a new dentist brimming with adventures. How many lives will I touch through my practice, through my leadership, and through organized dentistry? Will I travel abroad on mission trips, will I explore a career as a public speaker, or will I find opportunities within education? As dentists, we have the power to transform lives in so many ways. You may not end up where you thought you might, but that’s part of the beauty.
Today I find myself in a great practice constantly learning and becoming the dentist I always dreamed I’d be. We want what’s best but sometimes being surrounded by options paralyzes us with fear. Never forget that whatever path you choose, the knowledge and experiences you gain from any so-called mistakes become invaluable. I’m not where I thought I would be a year ago, but embracing my own adventure has helped me make the most of every opportunity. One of my favorite Disney Pixar quotes simply states, “Adventure is out there.” I’ve learned time and time again that I couldn’t agree more.
If you could give advice to yourself as a senior dental student, what advice would you give and why?
Dr. Daryn Lu is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and a general dentist in Shawnee, Oklahoma. A 2015 graduate from the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry, Daryn’s passion for his profession shows through his extensive history within organized dentistry. From an eager predental member of the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) to a passionate local, district, and national volunteer leader — the depth of his experiences has helped shape him as a dental professional and lifelong learner. In his spare time, Daryn is an avid traveler, self-proclaimed foodie, and social media junkie. He lives to travel, travels to eat and shares foodie pictures on your newsfeed.