Opportunities Abound for Dental Professionals
A dental career is unique as it offers several opportunities that many dental professionals may be unaware of. Dentists (and patients) often think a dentist simply operates in a private practice working on fillings, implants, and dentures all day. While many dentists enjoy a long-lasting career as a solo dental owner or an associate, there are many options to grow your dental career or work outside of clinical dentistry.
Following dental school or residency, dentists will often fall into a routine and without taking exciting continuing education courses or being involved with organized dentistry, they may get stuck in a rut. Sure, we’re all interested in increasing our productivity, but there are ways to improve your finances while also expanding your horizons as a dentist.
Continuing Education Courses
Each year dental professionals are expected to take continuing education courses to maintain their license to practice. Instead of simply taking a quick online course or attending a local class for convenience, you should really do your homework on what types of coursework can improve your techniques, your knowledge, and your skill set as a dentist. What are you looking to learn? Are you seeking to improve a current skill like Invisalign or Implant Dentistry?
Coursework by the American Orthodontic Society offers classes for general dentists and pediatric dentists to incorporate orthodontics into their practice. Let’s face it—orthodontics is a necessary tool to help our patients in adolescence, young adulthood, and later in life. By taking coursework like the Basic Straight Wire Course, you can learn to diagnose, treat, and properly refer malocclusion cases. Your patients will appreciate the knowledge and language you bring to the practice and your staff will recognize the effort you put into patient care. A virtual class or in-person workshop can help you establish a professional support system and even a referral base.
Whether you are an owner or associate, learning a new skill is always invaluable. You simply don’t know where you will be in 10 years. Some dental owners sell their practices and continue working part-time as they are phasing out of clinical dentistry. If you are selling, it is enticing for someone to invest in your practice if you are offering orthodontic care to your patients. Orthodontics is a natural self-marketing tool and will look attractive to buyers. If you are an associate dentist looking for a position, taking continuing education courses will always be useful and give you a leg up on the competition.
Learn the Business
Dentistry is a business just as much as it focuses on patient care. Most dentists know very little about the business side of dentistry, not because they don’t care, but because it is not taught in dental school or residency programs.
One of the best things you can do for yourself as a dentist is to understand how the business works. Learn how dental insurance impacts your treatment and how frustrating it can be for your office staff. Learn how to budget and that where you order your dental supplies from can impact your production goals and finances.
A dental owner understands the stress of the business, but is not always familiar with the intricate details of dental finances. This may be due to having an office manager or accountant that maintains all the financial records. An associate may not be updated on the business side because the owner wants them to solely focus on productivity.
You owe it to yourself to learn how a dental practice operates whether you own your own office, plan to own an office, or work as an associate. You can do this by taking continuing education courses, taking online business classes at a local college, or earning a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree.
Expand Your Dental Career
Dentistry is not a career limited to private practice. You have options as a dental professional to teach undergraduate dental students or those in an advanced residency program. You can work in public health and advocate for the dental profession. There are also dentists that go into clinical research, dental technology, and dental insurance.
Many healthcare platforms look for dentists as consultants. Insurance companies will hire dentists to oversee dental departments and work as claims adjusters. Some dentists invest in purchasing and selling dental offices to new dentists.
Your dental career is limitless as long as you are willing to continue to put the effort and hard work in. Dental school may have ended a few years ago or even decades ago, but that does not mean your education is over. Continue to invest into your dental career to get the maximum high quality, well-rounded profession you initially sought out when you started.