My New Dentist Life: Feeling at home in rural Texas

Thank you to everyone who read and commented on my post last month! I hope you are all safe and well. A lot has happened since I wrote my first article.

Photo of Dr. Goff

Dr. Goff

The last few months have been nothing like any of us could have imagined, but in many ways, it has been better than I expected. I’ve been busy moving into a new place, applying for my dental license and beginning work as an assistant while I waited to receive my license.

Rewind to last year when I began my job search online for opportunities around the country. After a lot of searching, researching, many phone calls, and even a few potential opportunities, I found an office in rural Texas with a position opening near my graduation date.

We made arrangements for me to visit this office in January. During my visit, I immediately felt at home in Montgomery, Texas, with the country roads, southern hospitality and Chick-fil-A on every corner. The dental office, doctors and staff all made my decision even more clear that I wanted to work at this office. As I waited in anticipation, I received a call a few weeks later that I was offered the position. At this time, it was now nearly March and the next few months were filled with finishing dental school requirements and preparing to move.

However, it was clear months before graduation that the COVID-19 pandemic was not getting better. There was anxiety of graduation being delayed and the possibility of me not starting work as soon as I had planned.

By June I had been preparing and gathering all paperwork necessary to apply for my dental license. As soon as I received my schools official transcript, I was able to submit my application for licensure. My start date, which was originally June 1, was only delayed by a few weeks. I started work as an assistant and now the excitement began to build as I waited for my license!

Two weeks later I received an email that my application had been reviewed and approved; I am now a licensed dentist! It almost doesn’t seem real that the last four years could seem so long in the moment, but in retrospect feel like it passed so quickly. And now I can call myself a DENTIST.

Working as an assistant has given me a much greater appreciation for everyone in the office working to fulfill his/her role as a vital member of a dental “team.” It takes everyone involved, from the patients first phone call to schedule an appointment to their last treatment to provide the patient with quality care and a good experience. The last month has felt like an extension of my dental education as I have been able to watch not only the doctors treat patients but manage a schedule and provide patients with a good experience.

Now, as I am typing this, I am three days away from my first day treating my own patients as a licensed doctor. I am surprisingly less nervous than I expected and more excited to begin an amazing profession.

I said earlier that the last few months have been better than I expected. That is because life has a way of happening whether you are ready or not. I was not ready for COVID-19 and the challenges it brought, I was not financially ready to postpone working, I was not ready to enter “the real world” in such a tumultuous time; but I have had opportunities that I would not have had if life happened as I planned it.

My family and I have landed in a great community that we love; I have had experiences with my family that I will always remember, I have gained valuable experience watching my fellow dentists and working with our amazing staff. I still have much to learn and experience but for the moment life is exactly how it should be.

I look forward to sharing with you next month my story as an official dentist!

Dr. Justin Goff is a recent dental graduate from Touro College of Dental Medicine at New York Medical College located in Hawthorne, N.Y. He was raised in Wyoming and is a graduate of Utah State University (Class of ’16). Dr. Goff is a first-generation dentist. He is married with a 3-year-old daughter. Dr. Goff will be working as an associate general dentist in Montgomery, Texas. Outside of the dental office, he enjoys time outdoors and is an avid fisherman.

Editor’s note: This is the second article in a New Dentist Now blog series, My New Dentist Life, following a new dentist’s first year experience out of dental school.

5 comments

  • Steve Geiermann DDS

    Very inspiring story during these challenging times. After 38 years, I still look forward to making a difference in the lives of those we serve. Many blessings and good wishes upon your new endeavor.

    Steve Geiermann
    Captain, USPHS (retired)

    PS: I especially appreciate your understanding of the importance of everyone on the team. When I came out of Michigan and headed to Rosebud, SD to begin my U.S. Public Health Service career…I am thankful that my dental assistants were old enough to be my mother. They offered sage advice and taught me the practical aspects of being a health professional and being “part of a community.” They made a tremendous difference in my life. We learn from everyone we encounter! Good luck!

  • Congratulations, Dr. Goff!

    I remember reading your last article. It is SUCH a good feeling when everything starts falling into place. Especially at a time when the world seems to be falling apart. I’m happy for you and your family and for your future patients who will be very fortunate to have an empathetic dentist like you.

    All the best!

  • Jeff Huston, DDS, MS, FAAPD, FACD, IUSD ‘82, USCSD PEDS’84

    Good job, Justin!

    Similar to your experience, splitting up time in my first associateship practicing dentistry in a rural community as a hygienist and pediatric dentist gave good perspective.
    The old dentist offered to sell me his practice and antiquated equipment, but the sale did not include being in the partnership with the other two grandfather pediatric dentists nor the building. I bailed. My next associateship was with another old dentist who said he wanted to retire soon. My goal in that relationship was to “buy him out in a year or get out.” My enthusiastic presence and upgrade suggestions gave his practice new life and reenergized him. He changed his mind about selling. I ended up leaving and going out on my own. That was especially scary being sole provider for my young family of four. A highly motivating question for my decision of becoming an owner was, “Do you wanna fish or cut bait?”

  • Dr. Goff,
    Welcome (back to?) Texas! Montgomery is such as nice area, and best wishes on your career. I hope the Touro experience was a great one. Dr. Myers is a close colleague of mine and I know how dedicated he was to your class, especially once the pandemic hit. Come visit us at the school some day!

    John A. Valenza, DDS
    Dean, UT School of Dentistry at Houston

  • That’s so inspiring. Its really narrates about your dedication and hard work. Of course your skill speaks up first in the list. Many congratulation on your next step of career.

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