My New Dentist Life: From graduation to South Carolina

Editor’s note: This is the first article in a New Dentist Now blog series, My New Dentist Life, following a new dentist’s first year experiences out of dental school. The views expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author and are not intended to reflect the views, positions or policies of the ADA or the New Dentist Committee.

Hello!  My name is Emily Hobart and I am a new dentist.

Dr. Emily Hobart at graduation.

Dr. Emily Hobart at graduation.

That felt an awful lot like introducing myself to a group of complete strangers at a self-help meeting. Although in all reality, that is what I am here to do – help!  I have been tasked with updating the masses – curious dental students, fellow new dentists and seasoned dentists alike – on all of the nitty gritty details of what it is like to be a new dentist, fresh out of school, right now. Throughout the year I will share my story. But who knows, I may just end up candidly dishing my embarrassing first-year blunders. I am as interested as you are to see how this all pans out. Either way it should be a lot of fun!

But first, some background.

Deciding where to practice

Like I mentioned, I am a brand new dentist. I just graduated from Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine – Arizona in Glendale, Arizona with the fun-loving Class of 2015.  After surviving D4 year, which felt very much like a circus with all of the hoops that we had to jump through – NDBE Part II, NERB/WREB and all of their components, clinical competencies, and (oh yeah) delivering top notch patient care – here I am!  With all of the busy day-to-day activities of fourth year, focusing on the future was not a priority for me. I found this to be a good thing because for me the future was a blank white canvas. I am unmarried, without children, and my family lives on opposite ends of the continent – I could literally go anywhere and do anything I wanted.  As freeing as that sounds, it was actually pretty scary.

Dr. Hobart and her classmates walking  to graduation to the tune of bagpipes. (photo by Rachel Heinz)

Dr. Hobart and her classmates walking to graduation to the tune of bagpipes. (photo by Rachel Heinz)

A timeline of Dr. Hobart’s journey from her last year of dental school to practicing in South Carolina.

A timeline of Dr. Hobart’s journey from her last year of dental school to practicing in South Carolina.

Having grown up in Glendale, less than 5 minutes from Midwestern, I was ready for a change. But like I said, I had no idea where I wanted to go. Because of this, I took both NERB and WREB since my school offered both. I was one of two students in my class to do so.  I basically wanted the freedom to work in as many places as possible. This meant that I had twice the requirements, twice the cost, and unfortunately, twice the stress!  The anxiety of these exams didn’t come from worry about my abilities – by that point I knew what I was doing – it came from the variables that were out of my control. Will my patient show up?  Will I have enough time to complete the exam with the long grading lines? I suffered through this twice. If you would like my opinion on either exam or how they compared, just ask.

I finished up all of these requirements and moved on to the job search in early April (which I panicked was too late because I had many proactive friends who already found jobs at that point). I narrowed down my focus to the South (How different can you get?), namely South Carolina and Georgia. I soon found out that Georgia would not be a possibility because they only accept the CRDTS exam – which is exactly the same thing as NERB. If I wanted to work there, I would have to retake the exact same exam – find (and possibly pay) patients, fly myself and them to a school in a state that holds that exam and pray that everything works out the first time. Lesson learned: The real world doesn’t always make sense.  But now that I narrowed down which state I wanted to work in, I could start applying for my license.

Getting my license

Dr. Hobart with Dr. Russell Gilpatrick, dean of Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine.

Dr. Hobart with Dr. Russell Gilpatrick, dean of Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine.

Of course, I couldn’t actually apply for my license until the week of my official graduation date when my school would send the states of my choosing a copy of my official transcript.  I applied for a license in Arizona even though I didn’t intend to work there right away because I wanted to have a standing license in a WREB state in addition to a NERB state (South Carolina).  Another lesson learned: This process takes a long time!  (Although it depends on the state and the time of year that you apply.) I applied for both licenses on May 11, Arizona by paper application and South Carolina online. My Arizona license came about two weeks later on May 27. I didn’t get my South Carolina license until July 13 – a full nine weeks later.

How I found my job

Having been an ASDA district trustee last year and involved in the organization for all four years of dental school, I had made connections with recruiters for a lot of group practices by helping to set up sponsored events. I interviewed with several group practices in South Carolina because of this. I also used the ADA Career Center to help me find job openings in the state. I fell in love with Dental Dreams (which I found with the help of this tool), interviewed, and I was offered a job with Family Dental in Columbia, South Carolina, in early May. This process, though daunting, was way easier than I thought it would be.

My start date was supposed to be July 13, but since I got my license on that date, I wasn’t able to start. Once my license arrived, I had to apply for my controlled substances license (required by some states) before I could apply for my DEA license. I also had a stack of new hire and credentialing paperwork to fill out. With any luck, I will start soon.

SouthCarolinaRoad tripping to South Carolina

To get from Arizona to South Carolina, I employed my favorite form of travel – the road trip! My boyfriend and I packed a car full of stuff, and I had my car shipped across the country. Four days on the I-40 was exciting because I saw states that I had never seen before. I even got to stay with my friend Dr. Daryn Lu, former ASDA vice president, in Oklahoma City.

Dr. Hobart did an "escape the room" in Oklahoma City to escape the torrential downpour outside.

Dr. Hobart did an “escape the room” in Oklahoma City to escape the torrential downpour outside.

When I arrived in Columbia, I spent a few days apartment searching. I had done a lot of pre-research, but I needed to see the places for myself. I picked one, but in true real world fashion, it wouldn’t be ready for about a week. I took a “forced vacation” in the meantime, road tripping to Myrtle Beach, Savannah, Charleston and Charlotte. Columbia is thankfully close to so many other cool cities.

Next time: My blog post is about my first week on the job! I promise it won’t be as long as this one!

Dr. Emily Hobart is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and an estranged Canadian who grew up in Glendale, Arizona, where she attended dental school at Midwestern University. She is now finding her way as a new dentist in Columbia, South Carolina. In her free time, she loves running, rock climbing, pub trivia, karaoke and traveling!

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