By Kimberly Herrmann
July 23, 2013
First of all, I would like to reassure you that there is a job out there for you! Try to be flexible about what that job looks like. For instance, working in a prison for a year or two could bring you great experience. Working for lower pay than you imagined for one to two years can hone some of your skills and then lead you to another opportunity. Don’t allow yourself to engage in negative self-talk or fear.
There are all types of dentists and dental practices. Dentists run their businesses in a variety of ways. Some are excellent businessmen and women, and some are not. Some have the foresight to hire a consultant to help direct them to a profitable business model, and some do not.
I am a big student of human behavior. It fascinates me. Most people just bumble along, day to day, not really paying attention to what they think about themselves. Personal growth seminars are a great investment of your time and money, in that they help you train yourself to be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions (or reactions). It can be a bit scary to really give yourself a good hard scrutinizing look! A lot of us are afraid of what we’ll see. Well, I say, “Fear not!” Looking within will give you some insight into why you do the things you do, which will lead to “Hmm, I think this is something that’s not really working for me, so I want to change that.” Some examples could include:
- having low self-esteem
- fearing the unknown
- lacking confidence in your abilities
- downplaying your assets and strong points
- possessing a pattern of negative thinking
- being overly emotional
- being too much of a perfectionist
- not having good follow-through with projects, relationships, or personal goals
- being a procrastinator
- not thinking for yourself and not taking a firm stand for what you believe in
The fact is, we are all unique, and we all possess a different skill set. There’s a perfectniche for every personality type, but to find it, you must do two things: first, really look at yourself and evaluate both your strong points and your weaker areas. And, secondly, make it a skill to ask the right questions when you interview to help determine whether that job is a good match for you or not. And then, don’t be afraid to cut your losses and leave if it turns out to be a bad environment for you. I had to do this one time after one day of working for a dentist. She claimed that in her practice, hygienists “had it made.” Well, not this hygienist. I’m a team player all the way, and at that office, I was relegated to one operatory, performing prophys only. I didn’t get to do exams or X-rays. It was a very disjointed feeling for me.
Also, please don’t freak out if you are let go. This has happened to me, and I don’t mind sharing it with you. I moved 2,000 miles away from home with a job change. The interview went very well. However, when I began employment, I discovered that the two dentists who owned the practice had little to no integrity, and the place was a chaotic mess. I hated it! I was informed three weeks into this job that I was no longer needed. And this is what I can tell you – no, promise you – if you are fired, you are far better off elsewhere. Be strong enough of character and self-esteem that you understand this. If your employer decides you’re not a good fit for the office, there is a much better opportunity lining itself up for you. Have faith and be grateful (yes, it’s hard, but trust me, it’s well worth it).
Give some thought to whether you like the hustle and bustle of a big city. Metropolitan areas offer more choices. You’ll have more employment choices, but also entertainment and food choices, extended hour dental clinics, and probably more bilingual opportunities.
Or you may feel it best to stay close to home, for family support and the comfort of familiarity it brings.
Small towns are usually slower paced. They may possibly be more family-oriented, but could also be “small-minded.”
If you enjoy serving, really helping needy people, then public health or rural areas may appeal to you. We’re all therapists, but it’s wise to consider what types of patients you will be treating. If you’re more of a salesperson, you may enjoy working at a high-end cosmetic practice. Think ahead of time what type of environment each practice offers, whether it’s periodontal, pedo, general dentistry, public health, a military base, or even a prison. And also, you’ll want to know if there’s opportunity for advancement.
Any job you have gives you the gift of experience. So, you really can’t go wrong with whatever you choose! (Even if you work there for three weeks and get fired.) Each experience you have in your professional life affords you a chance to reevaluate: how did I show up as an employee there? What skills did I use? What new skills have I learned? It’s a good idea to spend some reflective time thinking of your past employment experiences (dental or not), as well as perhaps your school clinical experiences, to help you determine what type of practice you will thrive in.
If you’re committed to your profession, then these next years are the fertile ground for you to show yourself what that commitment looks like!
I’ll leave you with a quote by St. Catherine of Siena: When you become who you were meant to be, you will set the world on fire!