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Question about the dental lifestyle

Discussion in 'Dental Residents and Practicing Dentists' started by willwash, Sep 26, 2014.

  1. willwash

    willwash 2+ Year Member

    Jun 25, 2014
    Good evening all!

    If you read my introductory post ( you will see that I am an early 30s pre-dent looking to switch careers. I've done a lot of soul searching as to why this is what I want to do, but I'd like the opinions of some experienced dentists.

    In my original post I mentioned that my dream job is more "vocational" and less "managerial." What I mean by that is that in my current job (and I think in almost all professional 100k+ type jobs), I don't "do" much. I manage things. I manage projects, manage programs, and manage people. I shuffle paperwork, give lectures and briefs, and ask (and get asked) "where do we stand with X?" all day. I dork around extensively with Excel and Power Point and have weekly staff meetings where we discuss the status of our projects, our programs, and our people. When I go home from work at the end of the day, it's not because I'm "done" with work in the sense that a construction worker is done with work at the end of his day. I've simply reached a more or less convenient momentary stopping point...but the "work" never stops. When I am sitting at home with my family, I am still silently thinking and stressing about those projects, programs and people. Still worried about that big deadline, that big presentation, the next big inspection, Jim in Accounting's drinking problem etc...whatever it is, it's always there. When I take a 2 week vacation, it's not a real just means that I'm choosing to allow 2 weeks worth of work to pile up in my absence and will have to play catch up, and oh-by-the-way also hope my phone doesn't ring about some "crisis" that can't be solved without bothering me while I'm on leave.

    The vision I have in my head of dentistry is that it is nothing, or very little, like that. I imagine Dental SCHOOL is like this, but that once you get into practice, your job is just practice. You work hard, especially in school, and have to keep up your motivation when it gets monotonous and repetitive, but at the end of your day you can take the pack a similar way to that construction worker...and not have to worry about it until the next morning, when you have a more or less fresh set of one-day challenges on your plate. That's why I use the word "vocational" to describe it. And, oh, your vacations meet the actual spirit and intent of a vacation, because you can actually fully disengage from "career mode" for a while.

    Here is the oversimplification: I just want to fix teeth. Don't ask me about the WENIS or the TPS reports (or the cover sheets on my TPS reports) or next week's meeting with the Bobs or the glitch in payroll. Don't come to me with your next harebrained project looking for a "team player" or send me to Des Moines for a landmark symposium about usage-based interdependency on a transitional basis. I don't want to touch Microsoft Excel with a 10 foot pole and prefer to avoid computers altogether as much as possible. I just want to fix teeth. Is that possible in dentistry?

    Now I am an adult and I'm not ignorant. I realize that every adult job is a grind and comes with its own share of baggage and I don't think dentistry is some magical exception. My question for active dentists is which of the above descriptions sounds more like your job? And secondly, what is the "grind" as a dentist?

    Thank you for listening to my combination rant/question. Your input is my treasure.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2014
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  3. willwash

    willwash 2+ Year Member

    Jun 25, 2014
    In essence, I want a job with a more or less one-day horizon. Does dentistry fit that bill, once you get through school and residency?
  4. cbizzle7994

    cbizzle7994 5+ Year Member

    Apr 20, 2010
    Working as an associate, yes. For the most part you go to work, do dentistry, go home, and then collect a paycheck at the end of the week. You don't deal with the day-to-day aspects of owning a private practice. The downside being that you don't have the same earning potential as someone who owns their own practice. But if all you want is a 9-5 job with no thinking or work involved outside of doing dentistry, it's not a terrible gig.
  5. sgv

    sgv ...crumbling 2+ Year Member

    Sep 5, 2013
    LOL nope nope nope and nope...this is a business. your problem with keeping work at work is a personal issue and is also common among anyone operating a business. dentistry is the easy part, managerial and entrepreneurial BS are the hard parts. there are dentists who have the discipline to keep their mind away from work and there are those who can't stop thinking about their office. it isn't an issue with dentistry itself. you'll hear a lot of dentists complaining how their job doesn't end at 5 pm, they have to put in extra work related to operating a business...some use that 3 day weekend, which the public assume the dentists are using to play golf, to manage expenses and other BS. you could pass off that work to a business manager if you're that business adverse.

    your impression of a dentist is perfectly in line with how the public perceives us: glorified teeth mechanics who are borderline vocationists. why do you call dentistry a vocational profession? you have to go to vocational school to be in a vocation...if you want to be a decent dentist, there's unfortunately for you, a decent amount of thinking and patient management involved. the standard of care is prevention and minimally invasive dentistry which requires more thinking and less cutting than what you perceive the profession to be doing. my impression of dental school is as if the administration is trying their best to pose as their more commanding medical counterparts by inflating the validity of current evidence based dentistry into well proven treatment options...

    the people who regret coming into this profession are those who hate the customer service and business management sides of dentistry.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2014
  6. dmacgolf70


    Oct 10, 2014
    The advice you got from your lawyer friend is the same for dentistry. Dental schools (University and for profits) continue to crank out more dentist that over populate many areas of the US. If you are interested in more information keep reading.
    As a General Dentist in a southeastern capital city who started a practice from scratch in 1985. I have come to the conclusion that there is an oversupply of dentists in most US areas. In 1997 my biggest problem was finding the time to get a patient appointed for and ER and I was booked 2-3 weeks in advance and had 2 FT RDH in 3 operatories. In 2014 with 1 RDH and 4 operatories I may see 2-4 patents on my schedule in addition to checking RDH patients. I have not had a day that I was booked solid since 12/28/2011. I have lost over 1500 patients to PPO's in the last 10 years. Finally in the fall of 2013 with 85% of GP's and 50% of specialists in PPO's I joined 12 PPO's to try and save my practice. That had resulted in a lost of $100,000 in the first 9 months of 2014. At this site ( )I have posted my attempt to get involved in solving this problem. Our dental schools, State legislators, dental societies and state boards need to do a better job at determining the number of dentist to train and supervise the conduct ( false advertising, unethical behavior and doing unnecessary treatment just to collect a fee) of the dental community. We need a system to determine the NEEDS by locations. We need a program of certificates of need (CON) that makes a hospital justify the need for a new wing. It does not serve the people of the USA to spend the tax dollars to train a dentist who then can not pay back his student loan because they can find full time work.
    Dastan likes this.

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