Top 10 Pearls of Wisdom for New Dental Graduates
by Dr. Brad Guyton
Dr. Brad Guyton, Dean of Dentist Development at the PDS® Institute, advises new dentist graduates who are looking to start a successful, prosperous private dental practice. New dental school graduates would be wise to follow these 10 simple tips, which cover continuing education, patient communication, leadership and integrity.
Graduating from dental school can be both an exciting, yet intimidating adventure. Not only will you be choosing where you want to practice, you’ll also be deciding whether or not you’ll be working under an experienced dentist or starting your own private practice. The opportunities are endless, and the choices are limitless!
As someone with over 20 years of clinical experience, I’d like to make the journey a tad bit easier on my fellow peers with some of the things I’ve learned along the way. I was lucky enough to have had an excellent mentor who taught me that dentistry boils down to three things: the patient, continuous education and an unwavering commitment to quality.
Below are 10 pearls of wisdom that I hope will help you as you start on your clinical journey and make your own discoveries:
1. Confidence: Grow your clinical confidence by working with a mentor. You need shoulder-to-shoulder coaching to really excel clinically.
2. Clinical Education: Commit to at least 100 hours of clinical education per year.
3. Keep it Simple: Learn to speak to patients confidently. If you vacillate too much between treatment options, it will come across like you don’t know what you are taking about. Keep case presentations very simple to understand. Don’t dive into too much detail.
4. Liability: Use informed consent and POI for every patient procedure. Never forget to document gum (periodontal) disease and other chronic conditions. Make certain you document that you informed the patient about these conditions.
5. Team Meetings: Have a morning huddle every day. Keep them positive. Have monthly meetings for the office. Have quarterly celebration events for the team outside the office. If employees do something well, praise them publicly. If they make a mistake, correct them in private.
6. Team Dynamic: All to many times dentists try to manage their teams, when they should be leading them instead and managing the process. Lead your team by example and treat them very well. Connect on a human level with them.
7. Branding Yourself: Learn what it means to brand yourself well. What are you going to be known for in your community and practice? Do you reinforce that brand through your marketing, advertising and patient experiences?
8. Consistency and Follow-up: This is imperative with your team and patients. It is also where most dentists fail. Examples range from follow-up calls with patients who receive an injection to regularly checking in with team members about their own career development.
9. Be Forward Thinking: What worked for your parents’ dentist probably won’t work for you. Your debt is higher, insurance reimbursement has declined, and technology is more necessary and expensive. Invest in yourself, but never get in over your head. Consider other practice models or consultants that will transform your practice.
10. Serve Others First, Even Before Money: Money is important, and you deserve to be fairly compensated, but dentistry is not a profession to get rich quickly. Slow, steady and strategic will win. Try to pay off your loans within 15 years of graduation. Start saving $15-25k per year for retirement today! But NEVER lose sight of your end game; you want to help other people, and that is what you will be most proud of when you retire. Make sure every night when you lay your head down to go to sleep, you can say, “I was honest in my dealings today, and I made the world a better place for the people I encountered”.
I hope that you find these small bits of wisdom helpful as you begin your journey in the world of private dental practice. Please feel free to contact me if you’re ever in need of advice!