My New Dentist Life: Shaking off those first-day nerves

By | September 4, 2020

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

Photo of Dr. Goff

Dr. Goff

Finally, I can write to you as a practicing dentist! It really felt like this moment would never come as it has been a goal of mine for so many years now. Before I tell you about my last month, I hope anyone reading this is safe, well and optimistic with everything going on in our nation.

My first day as an associate dentist went rather smoothly with excellent patients and good opportunities to begin treatment. My first day was in mid-July and the first patient I treated was a new patient to the office. The patient had a large failing amalgam restoration and multiple large vertical enamel fractures. I was able to prepare, scan, mill and permanently cement a crown for her that same day.

I was surprisingly less anxious than expected and more excited to get to work. Although I still had to shake off some nerves. The past month for me has been filled opportunities — from restorations and crowns to extractions and bone grafts. Some days I have felt more confident in my abilities and other days I recognize how much more I still must learn. I have really learned the value of knowing your limits and the benefits of knowing a good specialist.The biggest challenge for me so far has been time management. In dental school, I would have two to four patients a day. Now, managing multiple patients at a single time is an art that I am far from mastering. I think this is something that likely takes years to really get down a rhythm and feel for how to balance a schedule with treatment and exams continuously overlapping throughout the day.

Adding to this challenge is my lack of speed. I can feel myself getting quicker from day to day although I still have that student mentality to want to check, double check and triple check my work before I proceed to the next step in every treatment.

I am gaining more confidence in my ability to diagnose, treat and again know my limits. Most importantly I try to consistently evaluate my own work and determine how I can better my diagnosis, treatment planning and the treatment I provided. As dentists, I think we tend to be perfectionists. This is an excellent trait to possess. I’m always striving to provide nothing but the best treatment possible, while also realizing each patient and treatment is different from the last, and perfect can be different in different situations.

Our office recently expanded with three more dental chairs/treatment rooms installed this week, which opens more opportunities to see and treat patients. This was exciting considering the last six months have been a whirlwind for everyone.

Also, my name is officially on our office door. I didn’t realize until seeing my name up there how proud I felt of my accomplishments and the gratitude I feel for the many people that helped get me here.

As for my new home, my family and I have really enjoyed Texas. We don’t wander far from good air conditioning, but we have still found opportunities to get outside while social distancing. My wife and I took our daughter to Surfside Beach near Freeport, Texas. We had a blast although the water was not much to cool you off as it was warm as bath water. We also enjoy driving around and exploring the area and always need a good Whataburger strawberry shake for the drive.In the next four weeks I look forward to pushing myself to continue to my learning, increasing my abilities and pushing myself to grow.

Best of luck to all of you this next month!

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.

4 thoughts on “My New Dentist Life: Shaking off those first-day nerves

  1. Marvin A Fier

    Hi Justin,
    I enjoyed reading your column. It is well written and heartfelt…for sure! It sounds to me as if you have a handle on being a new dentist and you’re beginning to find a work-life balance. Don’t know if I mentioned this at Touro; when I teach CE courses to dentists, I say “continue to strive for perfection, and learn to SETTLE…………… for excellence!” I think you’re on your way. Wishing you success in all you do.
    Dr. Fier

    1. Justin

      Thank you Dr. Fier!
      I always appreciated your expertise and knowledge, you have a lot to offer new and seasoned dentists. Hope your doing well!


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