Life as a New Dentist — General Practice Residency

By | October 4, 2013
Dr. B. Alexandra Barton

Dr. B. Alexandra Barton

The ADA is made up of individuals—here’s one of them.

Who are you? I’m Dr. B. Alexandra Barton, a proud member of the Class of 2013 of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry, and I’m currently enrolled in a twelve-month General Practice Residency (GPR) at Denver Health Medical Center in Denver.

If you could have any job OTHER THAN dentistry what would it be? I wanted to go into broadcast journalism — I even took some courses in undergrad. But while it was easy for me to see myself anchoring one of the morning news shows, I couldn’t sell myself on a work day that starts at 3 a.m.

How did you choose this program? I wanted a GPR program that would give me more experience in endodontics and pediatric dentistry. Of the different programs where I interviewed, this one seemed to offer the most opportunities in these two areas and so far the program has lived up to my expectations!

What’s your schedule like? There are seven of us who are residents, and we attend lectures once or twice a week. But mostly I’m here from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Once a week I’m on-call in the evenings and then I’m on-call over the weekend every six or seventh week.

I was surprised at how often I actually get called in when I’m on-call. This facility is the #1 trauma hospital in the state, so most patients in the area get sent to our emergency department.

What are you doing for fun? Lots of outdoor music and festivals. The mountains and hiking trails are an easy drive from the city, and Colorado has some excellent breweries that I’ve been exploring with my fellow residents!

Any advice for someone considering a GPR? Funny you should ask! Last year at this time I was just starting the application process for residency programs, but I wasn’t fully convinced that I was going to actually enroll in one—I gave serious thought to going straight into an associateship.

Fast forward to today, and I’m really happy I chose this additional year of training. I can tell it’s going to be so much easier to transition into private practice than if I had gone straight from dental school. I’m getting real world experience working with an assistant, using a dental lab, and I’m getting faster at certain procedures. Additionally, I’m exposed to a much different set of procedures in this setting than I was in dental school. I work with the oral surgeons on the bigger trauma cases, but I’ve had the opportunity to do splints, incisions and drainage, that sort of thing. And of course, it’s great that I can bounce ideas off my fellow residents and the program director.

What are your plans for after you complete this program? I’m hoping to stay in Denver, assuming I can find an associateship here, so I’ve been networking with the Colorado Dental Association and getting involved with their new dentist committee.

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

5 thoughts on “Life as a New Dentist — General Practice Residency

  1. Roger Jing

    Dentistry is such a rewarding and amazing career. Being a dentist for over a decade made me learn a lot of things in life. I may not be one of the greatest and the most popular dentists in the world or the leader in the industry, but I have some valuable things and experiences that I can share with other people. I hope this article will inspire others most especially the young ones who are yet to start their dentistry career.

  2. Od. Luis Marcano

    It´s great you´ve stated: the ADA is made up of individuals, because that´s the reality of each institution

    Every one of us is responsible for makink Dentistry better than how we were taught in Dental Schools

    Thanks for sharing

    Greetings from Caracas, Venezuela

  3. Joo

    Thank you for sharing your experience and view towards GPR program.

    I wanted to be a medical doctor. but I finished dental school.
    I am in early 30’s and I don’t own a car.
    It’s unfortunate that each state requires its own license for people who are considering to move to a different state, because it takes several months to obtain a license, CDS, and DEA and they are costly for graduates just out of school. Besides financial reason, I wish there is just one uniform dental license for all states. “Dentist in one state is not a dentist in other state” does not make sense to me –

    I’m not sure where I will end up getting a job. In my situation, a year of residency will give me a chance to sort things out and plan for jobs, transportation, etc.

    – Dental graduate from New Jersey


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