Juggling motherhood and a full-time career in dentistry: How I make it work

By | April 30, 2018

U.S. News recently listed dentistry as the #2 job in the country. Undoubtedly, our profession offers great work-life balance, career growth and low unemployment. However, it’s not without its challenges, of course—especially if you’re a working mother.

Dr. Agarwal

According to a survey, more than 70 percent of the women polled agreed that being a mom in today’s world is much harder than it was 20, 30 years ago. Think about it. Today, we not only play caretaker, but we are often our family’s primary source of income. No pressure, right? Wrong! A lot of women still face the enormous burden of having to choose between either having a baby or climbing the career ladder.

For me, having to choose between being a dentist or mother was never an option. Dentistry is my passion, and I never thought about getting out or taking a break. At the same time, becoming a mother has also been one of my greatest achievements, and it’s a role that I don’t take lightly either.

The Working Mom: A Balancing Act

Some people might argue that it’s not possible to work full time and still effectively raise a child. I’ll be the first to admit that when I gave birth several years ago, transitioning between the roles of a career woman and mother was quite challenging. But I’m living proof that it’s certainly doable.

What I’ve discovered is that juggling the two has become easier over time. Early on, I found that embracing technology was the most helpful tool that allowed me to be more organized, more efficient and focused on the things that I was pursuing. Here are a few other things that have helped me to be not only a great mother but an effective dentist, too:

Control your schedule

Yes, I completely get that this is not always possible. Things happen. But if you own your practice or have a good relationship with your employer, some minor tweaks can make the day less stressful. As with any dental practice, some days are going to be super busy with back-to back appointments or unexpected emergencies. I personally try to start the day with the biggest procedures that require the most focus, and end the day with the easy ones. I also have my schedule on the cloud, so I can securely login and check my schedule a day before to plan things. That way I am not stuck in surgery at the last appointment of the day with the kid waiting in hopes of going to the park.

Focus on the bigger procedures

As much fun “bread and butter dentistry” is, it still requires lot of hard work and patient volume. Of course, your goal is to provide the services your patients need. I invested in a 3D conebeam scanner in my practice and started offering dental implants to my patients. Investing in CE courses also enables offering wider array of services under one roof which provides convenience for my patients.

Compress your work day

Many dental practices provide patient care Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. I have compressed my schedule to work Monday-Wednesday, for a longer time each day. This gives me an extra day at home to catch up with my little one.

Use a walkie-talkie at work

The layout of modern dental offices is often a hallway leading to various operatories. An already busy day could get even more tiring if you have to keep walking over to communicate with your staff. I found that implementing these two-way radios has been very helpful to make quick announcements like “running five minutes behind with a patient,” “I need to see you,” etc.

Pamper Yourself

Get some time away from work and chores at home in order to rejuvenate and decompress. Remember. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else—be it your patients or your children. When I like to unwind, I go to the spa, get a massage or go shopping. Going on vacation is nice, too.

A Final Note

Great mothers are always able to multitask and improvise—even when working. Don’t get me wrong. I was never fully prepared by just how motherhood would impact me as a career woman. Sure, it’s challenging. However, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Watching my young daughter learn and grow every day has been so rewarding. Motherhood has taught me patience and made me more caring. In some ways, I think it’s even made me a better dentist.

Dr. Rohini Agarwal is New Dentist Now guest blogger and a member of the American Dental Association. She graduated from Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine in 2014 and has since been practicing in suburbs of Portland Oregon. Dr. Agarwal is passionate about oral health education among kids and loves to be involved in local community events.

5 thoughts on “Juggling motherhood and a full-time career in dentistry: How I make it work

  1. Stacey S

    The title of his article should be “Juggling PARENTHOOD and a full-time career in dentistry: How I make it work.” The advice given is not specific to one gender. Alternatively, where is the article about juggling fatherhood and a full time career in dentistry? I’m a female dentist, and the premise of this article bothers me.

    1. Danny Qualliotine

      Thank you so much for your comment. For 15 years I was a single father raising two girls and had a thriving dental practice. I found the most important thing was to be on time. If we had scheduled an hour for lunch we got an hour for lunch. If we were finished at five we would leave within 10 minutes after five. We stayed on schedule and we stayed on time. We took adequate vacations to ensure time with the children. I wouldn’t have traded it for the world! And my daughters are nothing short of amazing!

  2. Rachel Thomas

    Nicely expressed.Dr. Agarwal.
    Having juggled the same for the past 22+ years. I totally agree with your article. We have changed our Office hours many times to accommodate our home needs. When my son the youngest of 3 was in elementary a 7:30 – 3::00 pm scheduled seemed to work well. This way I could come home to help with homework and dinner. Now though we are back to a 9-5 and a couple of longer days as he is older and independent and enjoys the late ride to school rather than the earlier bus.

    My point is even though I am passionate about dentistry my children and family come first. A while ago I heard this statement “ My patients can always find another dentist but my children only have one mother.” I have found this to be good advice.
    My older girls are now in college and as I look back on the hard early years of juggling work and home with 3 kids below 10 at a point, I have never thought that I should have done more dental hours.
    I do believe my best years are ahead of me and I continue to be passionate about all things dental while cherishing my roles as wife, mother, sister and friend dearly.

    1. Samir

      Very well said “ My patients can always find another dentist but my children only have one mother.” I will never forget this sentence! You changed my vision. Thank you

  3. Nicole Wright

    Thank you for sharing your story. Your experience and insight are invaluable to many!


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