Life as a New Dentist — General Practice Residency
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.