So you want to be a dentist? It’s a great career, but it’s also an intense one with long hours and low pay at the start. Unless you have your own practice from day one, you’ll have to work hard to get where you want to go.
Here are some tips from dentists who have made it. So many people who train as dentists don’t actually end up practicing as such; this is largely because of the financial and time commitments involved in being a dentist.
But if that sounds like something you’re willing to commit to, read on for some advice on how to build a successful dental practice as a dentist.
Know what you’re getting into
You’ll be on your feet all day, and you’ll work with your hands in people’s mouths (double yuck, we know). Dentists also have the highest suicide rate of any profession.
This may not be what you’re expecting if you’re thinking of a clean, white-walled office with a gentle-spoken patient base. Once you’re in the field, you’ll have to be able to handle the mental and physical stress that comes with the job.
Be aware of what you’re getting into, and don’t let the glamour of Hollywood’s portrayal of dentistry fool you.
Network with other dentists
Find dentists you admire and network with them! Start with the local ADA chapter or state dental society (many of them meet monthly or quarterly). You can find your local chapter through the ADA website.
Go to the events and workshops they offer, and get to know other dentists in your area. Ask them what they wish they’d known when they were just starting out. You’ll find plenty of mentors, and you’ll get to know others who are in your situation.
You’re likely to find people who will be generous with their advice, and you can also form partnerships with other dentists in your area.
Make your office technologically-savvy
Dentists are realizing that the way they do business needs to be modernized, particularly in the online space. This is why many dentists are relying on orthodontic software to ensure smooth business processes.
Also, many dental practices still aren’t savvy when it comes to online marketing, and many patients are finding practices through online searches. If potential patients can’t find you, you’re losing out on potential business.
To help combat this, you can employ the help of a marketing or PR firm who specialize in the dental field. You can also employ various marketing strategies in-house, such as setting up a blog on your website.
Blogs are a great way to collect information and share knowledge and advice with your patients. You can also use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to increase your visibility, and to talk to your patients directly. Offer content that’s relevant to your patients and their concerns, and respond to comments and questions they may have.
Develop your marketing skills
Good marketing is key to building a successful practice. Dentists are experts in their field, but they often don’t have experience in marketing their services. At the very least, you should be able to draft a good press release for local media, and take part in community events that may need dental participation.
Even if the services you provide are for private dental clients, you can still get involved in your community and show that you care. Hosting charity events, giving back to organizations and schools, and giving free dental care to people in need will not only help those in need, but it also shows your community that you’re a caring person who is willing to help.
Hire a great team
While you’re learning the ropes of marketing and building your reputation, you may need to hire an assistant to help you out. Whether you hire an associate, a marketing firm, or an intern, make sure they’re a good fit for your practice.
A good assistant or marketing expert can make your practice run more smoothly, while a poor hire can wreak havoc on your reputation. Check references, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been lodged against the company, and be sure you hire someone who is a good fit for your practice.
Commit to continuing education
Even if you’re a general dentist, you’ll need to stay current in your field. Dentists are expected to continue their education throughout their careers. The ADA recommends that practicing dentists earn 36 Continuing Dental Education credits every two years. You don’t have to do them all in one year.
Choose topics that are relevant to your practice. If you’re a specialist, you may only need to earn 24 credits. Some organizations, like the ADA, even offer online courses that you can take for free.
Dentistry is a highly rewarding career, but it’s also long and hard. It takes years to build your career, and it takes a lot of hard work. If you’re committed to becoming a dentist, make sure you’re prepared for the challenges of the profession.
That means attending a dental school that will prepare you well for the real world and getting the hands-on experience you’ll need to excel at your job. If you’re prepared for the challenges that come with being a dentist, you’ll be able to build a successful dental practice.