Dentists that didn’t do a residency - how was your first year out?

I Brush My Teeth

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Jun 5, 2015
  1. Pre-Dental
    If anyone that came straight out of dental school to become an associate at a private practice or DSO or even owner, what CE courses did you take, what skills did you improve on? How was the year?
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    Full Member
    7+ Year Member
    Jul 22, 2012
    1. Dental Student
      It was a frustrating year. Nobody told me that private practice wasn’t anything like school (naive me).
      I remember when I started working, I told the office manager to give me the same schedule as the boss. That’s how high my confidence was after graduating (again, silly me). A few weeks in, I had to tell them to slow down. I took work with me home a lot that first year, thinking and analyzing every little mistake I’d make. At first, you’ll probably be thinking about your patients a lot (“hope they’re doing ok after that treatment”). After a while, you even forgot who you saw a few hours earlier.

      Regarding CE, I realized my first year that occlusion is absolutely everything and it can make or break your work. Even though I don’t really like cosmetic dentistry and don’t really care for doing full mouth rehabs, I think it’s very important to understand basic/moderate occlusion for your single/multiple crowns or bridges to last as long as possible. For this, I recommend any occlusion course but I thought Clinical Mastery series was pretty good for basics. I took an implant placement one as well and took an extraction course in a foreign country.. root canals are easy to practice because you can do it on extracted teeth and just youtube techniques. I first started doing molar RCT’s on Pts on teeth that had very limited prognosis. I’d definitely let the pt know that their tooth may have to be extracted in the near future but a root canal can be done meanwhile to get some more life out of it.. If something goes south on those cases, the tooth has a really poor prognosis anyways so you at least feel like you gave it an attempt. These were government insurance pts and no endodontist here takes that. Before reaching that point though, I did many premolars/anteriors and practiced on extracted teeth. Now I routinely do most molars except second molars (especially if patient has problems opening) Or if canals look too tight..

      I think the one that mostly paid off was learning how to do extractions well. Hardly ever refer any out, only crazy impacted wisdom teeth or a crazy patient.
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      Alpha Centauri

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      7+ Year Member
      Mar 6, 2013
      Fhloston Paradise
        At first, you’ll probably be thinking about your patients a lot (“hope they’re doing ok after that treatment”). After a while, you even forgot who you saw a few hours earlier.
        This hits home. Can't imagine having a mindset like this as of now (not in a negative way). Going from seeing 2 patients a day to 30 will be drastic change in experience
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        Full Member
        7+ Year Member
        May 12, 2013
        1. Pre-Dental
          I interviewed at 5 GPRs and said " this is a waste of time". All the residents were unhappy and most of them wished they started working. My first job was $600/day at a medicaid office. You learn a lot your first year. Dont be scared to join the real world and leave school. Just remember, a lot of dumber people have done it before you. The real world is awesome
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          New Member
          Nov 22, 2019
          1. Dentist
            I went to work in private practice right out of school and it was a good year. Even though my dental school had a really strong clinical curriculum, there was still a decent learning curve to adjust to the real world schedule (but this is inevitable no matter when you start). My 2 best friends from school did a residency to learn implants and this was definitely worth it for them; however, I saw them struggle in the first few months of private practice after the residency just like I did a year before. I think a GPR/AEGD is definitely worth your time if you are going to learn a new skill from it that you didn't get in school but otherwise don't be scared to go to work. Don't worry about speed; take it slow, do good work, and get to know your patients. Call your patients the night-of or day after big procedures to check in on them. Also, seek out a dentist mentor. Things are going to come up and you need someone to bounce ideas off of.. and sometimes just to vent to. Hope this helps- best of luck!
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            Full Member
            5+ Year Member
            Mar 22, 2016
              I went straight out, and it was tough because I really knew how to do restorative (and clean teeth!) coming out. Took a while to build other skills. I have definitely gotten stuck a few times taking out broken down teeth and had to refer - always a ****ty feeling. I saw some of my classmates placing 40 implants and get very comfortable with surgical extractions during their GPRs and wish I had been in their positions. Other classmates did not go into strong programs though so they may have been better off going straight to work.
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              Junior Member
              15+ Year Member
              Jul 6, 2006
              1. Pre-Dental
                I did a residency and I think it was worth it. A lot of times people would say instead of doing a residency find a mentor/practice where someone could teach you. I do not think it is that easy. It's hard to imagine someone taking time out of his/her schedule and sacrificing production to help you with procedures. In residency you get a chance to have more mentorship. However, if you choose to not go to residency I would say work at a NHSC or a federal government, nonprofit site that does loan repayment. At these sites you would not have the pressure of trying to produce a lot of money and your pay and benefits are guaranteed. You will do lots of fillings, extractions and dentures there. In regards to needing mentorship, you can easily do one of those courses to help with extraction techniques. I think that would be beneficial if you are not comfortable with extractions. Dentures are pretty straightforward and easier in practice than in school. Unlike school, you have the option of letting the lab make custom trays, wax rims and set teeth. In regards to fillings you can work at your own pace and focus on doing a good job. Also, there are plenty of videos online about restorations. I recommend rural, nonprofit sites for inexperienced dentists because it can provide an opportunity to grow and develop without worrying about production.
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