Apr 2, 2010
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I'm 28 and I've been thinking about a career switch for a while now. A little background: I graduated from an Ivy with a science degree, intending to become a veterinarian. For a variety of reasons, I decided not to pursue that path and ended up in the high-tech field. While I've worked really hard at my job for the past 5 years and gotten a lot of promotions/special awards, I haven't been very satisified, which I think is important since I tend to work at least 50 hours a week.

I'm still in career exploration mode and think dentistry could potentially be a good fit (along with audiology and a couple of other fields). I've job shadowed in a few health-care fields and honestly, it hasn't helped influence my decision yet. Here are the things that I think are appearling and potential downsides. Let me know if I'm being realistic with these:


Pros:
Good pay - important since I'd be leaving a fairly high-paying job and want to maintain my standard of living. Don't necessarily care about becoming 'rich' though.
Good work hours
Instant gratification in terms of fixing problems
1:1 interaction with patients
Potential to become own boss
Cons:
Lack of job opportunities? Before opening your own clinic, are associate positions easy to find?
Coordination. I worry about not being coordinated enough to perform the necessary procedures
One other question: One of the reasons I'm not considering medicine is that I don't want to deal with life and death situations. Are there surgical procedures in dentistry that could potentially cause someone to die if you make a mistake? I've never really heard of a patient dying at a dental clinic so I'm not sure if it's a valid concern.
 

jj007

10+ Year Member
Oct 31, 2008
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To be blunt, if you have to ask someone if dentistry is right for you, then I would say that dentistry is NOT right for you.

If you really want to become a dentist, I would suggest shadowing a dentist or volunteer at a dental clinic in your spare time. Your pros for being a dentist are very generic, and your cons are quite concerning. Hand and eye coordination are quite necessary for being a good dentist.

Good luck!!
 

dentalWorks

Nights Watchmen
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Jun 25, 2009
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"Is dentistry right for me?" only you can answer that. But based on your "pros".... I think you pretty much nailed it right there. It seems to me that your interested in this field. I'll try to add some comments about some of your questions from the cons section:

Cons:
Lack of job opportunities? Before opening your own clinic, are associate positions easy to find?
lol you my friend graduate with a DDS or DMD degree and you'll have a job lined for you in less than a week. Statistically speaking, within the next 2-5 years, "they" say there is going to be a huge shortage of general dentists nation wide

Coordination. I worry about not being coordinated enough to perform the necessary procedures
I am not a dentist nor in dental school yet, but based on what my sister tells me (she = DDS), you will not graduate dental school without them drilling manual dexterity into your hands... Obviously when you first graduate you'll be like a baby, it will take some years to gain right amount of experience and dexterity but trust me, if your "not coordinated enough", they'll fix it for you.

One other question: One of the reasons I'm not considering medicine is that I don't want to deal with life and death situations. Are there surgical procedures in dentistry that could potentially cause someone to die if you make a mistake? I've never really heard of a patient dying at a dental clinic so I'm not sure if it's a valid concern.
I am not a dentist, I can't speak much about this. But its not a very common thing you hear in news / newspapers "Dr. XYZ, DDS killed a patient due to a complication in a dental procedure or whatever", Im sure it can happen, its just not very common. My sister has been a dentist for 10 years, she has never killed a person, nor come close to lol.
 

dentalWorks

Nights Watchmen
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One more thing I forgot to add. People always say that dentists have a great life style cause they don't work as many hours (as day medical doctors do)... its sorta true but not entirely

You see as a dentist, its YOUR choice how much you wanna work. If your not very involved with making alot of money and you just wanna get by with a comfortable salary. 30-35 hours a week will do it for you. If your a psyco like our family doctor's friend, who owns 7 dental practices, your going to work pretty much majority of your day, over 50 hours a week, but your going to make A LOT of money, easy 7 figure income.

If your gonna graduate college and be in like 500k debt (for whatever reason), you might need to work ALOT of hours to pay that back at least the first 5 years.
 

ziptree

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Mar 25, 2003
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lol you my friend graduate with a DDS or DMD degree and you'll have a job lined for you in less than a week. Statistically speaking, within the next 2-5 years, "they" say there is going to be a huge shortage of general dentists nation wide
As long as "nation wide" doesn't include California...that is, unless you're OK with making peanuts while you're 250K+ in debt. ;)
 

SugarNaCl

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Instant gratification is the #1 reason I went into it followed by patient interaction. I'm finishing up my 3rd year (at 30 years old) and I like it better than I had ever imagined. It is a whole lot of goodness rolled into one career ;)
 
6

626385

Instant gratification in terms of fixing problems
1:1 interaction with patients
I think these two pros answer your question. It sounds like dentistry would be a good fit for you if helping people with their conditions is truly important to you. Does this mean dentistry is the only option for you or even the best? Of course not. But it sounds like dentistry is a field you might enjoy after looking into it a bit more.
 

dentalWorks

Nights Watchmen
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Jun 25, 2009
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Instant gratification is the #1 reason I went into it followed by patient interaction. I'm finishing up my 3rd year (at 30 years old) and I like it better than I had ever imagined. It is a whole lot of goodness rolled into one career ;)
This was a HUGE reason for me. I was a software engineer, and sitting infront of a computer screen for 8/9 hours a day, 5 days a week with minimal human-human interactions killed my soul... Only reason I did it for 4 years was because there was alot of problem solving, alot of algorithm design, very scientific and mentally challenging (what I like) but socially debilitating
 

Kceb83

Non-Trad Dad
Apr 3, 2010
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Glad to see some more non trads around :) I say you should definitely do some shadowing to see how you feel. I was convinced I was going to go to medical school until I shadowed a dentist and it fit my personality waaaaaaaay better. I loved the hands on work and the patient interaction was great. I agree 100% with the above responses. I was a corporate auditor for almost 2 years and it sucked the life out of me. Pushing papers is no way to live.
 
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