Specialty pathway: Q&A with specialist Dr. Marcus Johnson

For Dr. Marcus Johnson, the challengeof endodontics, and what he calls its basic principle — saving the natural dentition — is a genuinely intriguing pursuit.

Dr. Johnson

Dr. Johnson

“I love the fact that within one or two visits, most patients can get back to their normal lifestyle and routine — pain free,” said the New York City-based dentist. His passion for the specialty led Dr. Johnson to earn a certificate in endodontics from Case Western Reserve University and become a specialist after graduating from New York University Dental School.

The ADA New Dentist News asked Dr. Johnson about the details that went into his decision to pursue a specialty. Here is a summary of the conversation:

Q: How and when did you choose to pursue endodontics?

My interest in endodontics came about during my second year in dental school; I was able to shadow a friend who was a first-year endodontic resident. I spent extra time in the graduate endodontic department developing relationships before getting accepted into the honors program and then completing a general practice residency, where I established myself as the “unofficial endodontist,” treating as many endodontic cases as possible.

Q: How would you describe some of the benefits or challenges of pursuing a specialty?

I understood the advanced training for the specialty required more time and expense, and I felt building a practice would take longer since the growth is largely based on referrals. I also knew that relocation meant limited options. Growing a referral base in a city like New York, where the number of endodontic specialists is high, requires delivering reliable, reproducible results on a consistent basis. However, it is extremely rewarding. I like being able to provide high-quality care to patients with minimal visits and building and fostering great relationships with referring colleagues.

Q: What factors did you consider and what resources did you use to help you make this decision?

I considered the extent to which I had the ability to deliver treatment results in a timely fashion, the flexibility of schedule for family and travel and other lifestyle factors. I had many helpful resources to help me answer my questions, including stellar faculty members and resources from the American Association of Endodontists. My mentor, Dr. Albert Granger, helped me get my first job as an associate in his practice, where I honed my clinical skills and learned practice administration skills and how to effectively manage patients.

Q: What else should dentists know when considering pursuing a specialty?

Success in building my practice, City Endodontics, stemmed from networking and relationship building skills I developed in dental school, learning to be an effective communicator and maintaining a standard of clinical excellence. I found it’s important to increase my practice value by staying abreast of treatment techniques, new trends and current literature. Also, as an endodontic attending instructing residents and providing continuing education credits through lectures for my referral base, I find that teaching is a great way to consistently realize this value and stay relevant.

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