My first year as a dentist was discouraging to say the least. As a new dentist I assumed that all dentists cared intensely about their patients and their work. I was heartbroken when I found out that this wasn’t true.
My first job landed me right in the thick of dentists and staff that didn’t care — about our patients, quality dentistry or each other. I was miserable. How in the world could I have made such a terrible mistake in choosing a profession?
Thankfully, I quickly found a few mentors that took me under their wing and showed me what I knew deep down had to be true — there’s more out there. I noticed a difference in the dentists who were life-long learners, and I wanted to be more like them. These dentists didn’t complain about their staff, they talked about how they empowered them to be awesome. They didn’t complain about patients, they talked about how they changed lives. They didn’t complain about debt, they talked about the new procedures and technology that they were bringing into their practices. Choosing mentors and friends that are hopeful about the future of our profession has guided me towards some really exceptional learning opportunities that have changed the way I see my life, my patients, my craft and my team.
For me, there have been a few groups that have really made my heart pump for dentistry. The opening session at my first American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry meeting literally. Made. Me. Cry. I was so blown away by the energy and the passion that these dentists had for each other and dentistry. Another defining moment for me was the first course I took with Dr. Frank Spear and Dr. Gary DeWood at Spear Education in Scottsdale, Arizona. I felt like they were speaking directly about me and my practice, and I rushed home with a new vigor for dentistry. In the past five years I’ve become almost addicted to this feeling of growth, racking in over 1,200 hours of CE and building an amazing team at my office that supports my practice vision. I hope to share more about my passion for education and my blooming practice in future blog posts.
How will you change your practice so that you can enjoy dentistry more? I’d encourage you to find a mentor that makes your heart pump with optimism. I’d encourage you to find a course that makes your heart pump with curiosity. I’d encourage you to find a team that makes your heart pump with gratitude. And I’d encourage you to love the heck out of dentistry.
Dr. Dawn Wehking graduated from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry in 2010. She was awarded Fellow status with the Academy of General Dentistry. She finished the Spear Education curriculum, a place where great dentists go to learn how to be exceptional dentists. She serves as visiting faculty at Spear Education. Dr. Wehking is also an ADA Success Speaker, teaching dental students about life after dental school. Dr. Wehking owns a small private practice in Lafayette, Colorado. On her days off, you’ll find her and her husband Jeremy with their furry children, enjoying Colorado’s great outdoors.