What's the Right Path?

Radhika Patel

Radhika Patel
practicing dentist at Neibauer Dental Care in Waldorf, MD

Whether you’ve recently graduated dental school or are finishing up soon, it’s both an exciting and relieving feeling to have the next chapter of your life on the horizon. While graduation is a time to celebrate, it’s also a time to decide what career path is right for you. 

Nowadays, there are several options for dentists after graduating from dental school, giving new grads plenty of choices to start their dental career. With all the different paths available, it can still be daunting to know which option is best for you. The best strategy in choosing your path is to educate yourself on all the possibilities. This way, you know exactly what is available and how each of those options might fit your needs.

If you haven’t graduated from dental school yet but have graduation and the future on your mind, now is the perfect time to start thinking about which path is best for you. Some of the most common career options for dentists after dental school include:

Post-doctoral education: If you desire to continue your education after earning your DDS or DMD in general dentistry, an advanced dental education program might be the right path for you. There are hundreds of different programs available, offering advanced education in both general dentistry as well as in specialty areas like pediatrics, orthodontics, periodontics and more. The American Dental Association offers more information on these types of programs to help dentists understand what is available and how to apply.

Private practice: For many dentists, the dream is to own their own dental practice. With smart and strategic business planning, this can certainly be achieved. Having a private practice is an incredibly rewarding accomplishment. Since it can be difficult to start up a dental office on your own right after dental school though, many dentists find an associateship with an existing private practice or choose DSO support.

Dental support organization: Student loan debt and other burdens can make it challenging to start up and own your own dental practice from the ground up. What’s more, many new dentists are overwhelmed by the idea of managing a private practice right out of dental school, and do not feel prepared to take on such a huge business venture by themselves. For this reason, dental support organizations, or DSOs, were started to assist dentists with the business-side of dentistry that many are unprepared to take on. DSOs help dentists focus on providing dental care to their patients while relieving the administrative burdens of owning a practice. New dentists can also find mentorship and continuing education opportunities through DSOs, which allow them to learn and grow in their profession. 

This is why Heartland Dental was founded. Dentists who are supported by Heartland Dental remain the true leaders of their supported dental office, but their focus is shifted from solely running a business to simply providing optimal patient care. Supported dentists have access to hundreds of continuing education hours, a huge network of dentist colleagues, and unparalleled non-clinical administrative support. This makes for a satisfying dental career and a healthy work-life balance.

There are several different options for dentists to consider after graduating from dental school, and there is no right or wrong choice. No matter where your path takes you, always remember to keep in mind why you’re doing what you’re doing, and never lose sight of the reason for your path in life. If you keep this thought as a constant guide, the choice for your career will come easy. 

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