My New Dentist Life: Starting a career during the COVID-19 pandemic

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 experience out of dental school.

Photo of Dr. Goff with his family

Dr. Goff dons his graduation gown and poses for a photo with his family.

Hello Everyone,

My name is Justin Goff, and I am a recent dental graduate from Touro College of Dental Medicine at New York Medical College. I am excited to take you on an adventure over the next year. I will tell you about my experience as a dental student and each month keep you updated on my life as a new dentist.

Wow, what a crazy last few months let alone the last four years? Dental school has been a whirlwind and finishing my last months of dental school during the COVID-19 pandemic has been an unforgettable experience to say the least.

Having never been to New York, my experience to interview at TCDM was exciting and overwhelming at the same time. During my interview in 2016 TCDM was still under construction as TCDM’s class of 2020 is the first graduating class at this new school. Without a preclinic or clinic, it was difficult then to see what this school would become. After my interview I told my wife that all the other interviewees were much smarter and surely had a much better application than I did. I assumed that was my first and last trip to New York…

However, weeks later I received an acceptance letter and had less than one month to find an apartment and get to New York. Within the first two weeks of school life got even crazier as we found out that my wife was pregnant. With school and a new baby there were many sleepless nights, but life was fun and exciting to think about the future for our small family.

Photo of Dr. Goff

Dr. Goff

Fast forward to my senior year with board exams, licensing exams, trying to finish competencies to graduate and looking for a job. I had just finished the Commission on Dental Competency Assessments [CDCA] licensing exam when a few weeks later, life in New York and around the world seemed to stop. COVID-19 disrupted everyone’s lives, making some people stay home and others work more tirelessly treating those affected. The last few months of dental school were a waiting game to see when we as students would return to clinic, or if we were to return at all. Our school, like many others, finished the year online and celebrated with a virtual commencement.

So, looking back on the last four years, do I feel ready to get to work?

I feel that I have been well prepared and my preclinical and clinical experience were amazing at TCDM. However, dentistry is a career of lifelong learning and I am sure the next few years will present challenges that only years of clinical judgement will provide the answer.

The next phase of my life will begin in Montgomery, Texas, just about one hour north of Houston. I will be joining a practice as a general dentist. However, I will start work in mid-June assisting the doctors until my dental license can be issued. As for now when people ask, “What do you do for a living?” I can’t say I am a full-time student, and I can’t quite say I am a licensed dentist. BUT, whatever the future holds I know it will be eventful, a continuous learning curve and not at all what I would expect.

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.

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