Making the jump from dental student to new dentist

Dr. Lu

By way of introduction, my name is Daryn Lu and I am a 2015 graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry. Born on the West Coast in San Francisco, and raised on the East Coast in Jacksonville, Florida, I have called Oklahoma my home for the past 16 years.

By the time dental school graduation arrived, I felt confident as a well-rounded dental student. I knew my patient family and their needs, I felt comfortable (sort of) with my faculty, and I (finally) understood the system. And now the game has changed. It’s time to abandon my comfort zone and embrace my role as a new dentist.

From my journey as a non-traditional predental applicant to my dual roles as a dental student and volunteer leader of the American Student Dental Association, I strived to make the most of each experience. Dental school is one of the most memorable experiences of my life. The friendships and relationships I forged, the conversations I had the opportunity to be a part of, and the lives I impacted will always remain a part of me. Each day brought new challenges, successes and failures, and it’s my goal to share these all with you. Reflecting upon my transition from dental school, here are my top three tips for dental students looking to succeed as new dentists!

  1. Make the most of your time in school and embrace leadership: Dental school is 3-4 years of your life that you will never get back. It’s a transformative process. After years of hard work and determination, you’ll be regarded as a doctor and more importantly as a leader. Leadership can be a buzzword to many people but it’s so much more. The reality is that starting from day one, you’ll be expected to lead a team and your patients. Do as much as you can and challenge yourself both clinically and professionally. Simply put, the more experience you have, the better your toolbox will be equipped to handle different scenarios. Have you ever led a meeting and struggled keeping others focused on the agenda? How is that first morning huddle going to go? Have you ever had to delegate tasks to tackle a big project? Have you ever had to do new patient exams in the middle of a molar endo? Experience breeds confidence. Others will look to you with questions. Will you have the answers?
  2. Stay true to yourself: Never compromise your believes or standards of care. In dental school, you’ll be faced with many questionable paths. Do you angle that radiograph so that it has a better chance to be accepted for your licensure exam? Do you delay perio treatment because you’re in need of another requirement? Dental school will test your limits. Think back to the day you decided to apply to school. What did you spend countless hours editing in your personal statement? What did you confidently say in your interview? Is that still who you are? Are you a dentist for the same reasons? These are the challenges you will face as a new dentist on daily basis as you work towards building your patient’s trust.
  3. Remember that there is no perfect path: We live in a society where we can find the best of the best. The best Netflix TV series and the best up-and-coming restaurants are a keystroke away. We do our diligent research because we desire the best outcome for success. But what’s best for one person isn’t necessarily the best for someone else. During my D3 year, I spent hours making pro and con lists, talking to mentors and seeking advice on the best paths for success. What you’ll eventually find is the best path for you. Don’t be afraid to forge your own way because I promise you, you can’t go wrong. If you are confident you have a grasp on business management and are ready to buy into a practice—do it. If your clinical experience is what’s important to you, make finding a clinical mentor your priority. If your heart is in helping underserved areas—seek out public health sites. There are countless opportunities to serve within dentistry. Find and embrace yours.

Today, I find myself well into my professional career as a new dentist in Shawnee, Oklahoma. I am working with an incredible mentor dentist, I am supported by an absolutely brilliant team, and I continue to learn as much as I can each day. It’s my hope for this blog to serve as an evolving dialogue between my personal experiences and the topics you want to know more about. Welcome to my new dentist life!

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.

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