Outside the Box | Dear Dental Student...
I'll always remember the first day of dental school. In her welcome, the Dean of Student Affairs congratulated our class on choosing to enter what she termed, "The Platinum Profession." She reviewed the financial highlights of dentistry as reported by Forbes Magazine and then briefed us on our academic schedules and responsibilities. What followed was our first formal lecture about the psychology of pain and how to manage pain in dentistry. Pain? I questioned. That's quite a welcome to the dental world.
The four years that followed indeed involved some pain and discomfort: growing pains of having to selfishly focus on this challenging academic and professional pursuit; painful break-ups and make-ups with friends and family; pain from limited hours of sleep and the dry eyes that accompany waxing-up teeth into the night; and of course pain as the most common chief complaint of my patients, which consequently aided me in obtaining my dental degree. Pain is the reason people fear the dentist and it's also a huge factor in the unhappiness of dental providers. Dental school taught me how to treat pain but managing my connection to that pain was something I've had to learn outside the box.
Traditionally, most dentists spend most of their days in the same office and intimate operatory, working very closely with a small team of individuals. The fine margins of detail, money, time, and pain can often become burdensome and even unbearable. While dentistry is deemed a very prominent profession, it is also one that has also been linked to high rates of depression. However, I am grateful for the many advancements in dentistry that make it a more pleasurable delivery of care for both patients and providers. Here are just a few:
Technology. Digital x-ray delivery was just the beginning. Smart devices, computer simulated dental education, and other innovative programs not only help patients better understand treatment recommendations but also ease the experience of adults and children in the dental chair.
Expansion. I would have never imagined that my duty treating dental disease would prompt me to pursue my passion for writing and publish a collection of Children's Books that teach the importance of oral care. Design your own dental world exactly the way what you want it to be. Whether it's providing treatment, managing businesses, or teaching students, this very refined profession is actually quite wide in terms of dimensions for satisfaction.
Free Space. Dentists are trained to be regimented and detail oriented. Allow those good habits to occupy your lifestyle as well. Traveling, fitness, quality time with family, and other hobbies are things that other professionals often sacrifice for business. Being a dentist yields the opportunity to be your own boss and to create your own work schedule so you can make time for yourself and your family.
No dental prep is perfect and no profession is without its own set of flaws. However, when it comes to success in dentistry, I'm learning that integrity is as much about personal growth as it is the brilliance of your design.