Speaking To Jackie

Episode 079

This week we discuss an email I received from Jackie. She took time out of her studies at the Texas A&M College of Dentistry to ask a couple of questions. Listen in to find out what she asked on episode 79 of Business of Dentistry…

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First Jackie, thank you for your email, your kind words and your questions. I’m going to go through your email line by line so I speak to each of your points.

In your email you first share that you listen to the show on your way to and from dental school. And you are encouraging your friends to listen so you can all talk about these topics together. That fact alone tells me a lot about all of you – trying to learn more about the business of dentistry on your own outside of school says you are motivated and you have initiative.

You go on to say you get close to zero hours of training on the business of dentistry and I can tell you not much has changed: that was true when I graduated in 1994.

I remember we had one private practice management course during my dental school years, and I think it was taught by a guy who hadn’t even had a private practice. I’m pretty sure he taught from a book, and I don’t remember if the people who wrote the book had even been in private practice! Unfortunately the business education side of dental school hasn’t changed much. But I am hoping dental podcasts can change that fact.

Your next comment was about the rise in corporate dentistry. I’ve never been in corporate dentistry so I can’t speak to whether the lack of business education is leading to its rise. However, there are people out there who see the beauty in dentistry and see the monetary upside of it, and they are capitalizing on that because they understand business systems and business overall.

The second part of the rise in corporate dentistry might be happening because of dental school debt. I heard a statistic the other day that over 60% of new dental school graduates are hired by corporate dental entities. Maybe that’s because of the debt load you’re having to carry right out of dental school. Going into even further debt to open your own private practice puts an even bigger strain on new graduates.

There also may be people out there who just want to be clinicians and don’t want to deal with the business side so they sell their practice and work for dental corporations. I think there are a few factors that are contributing to the rise of corporate dentistry.

Your next question asks if I will do an episode about how best to secure an associate position and what I look for in someone fresh out of dental school. I’m going to be totally transparent: I don’t have an associate in my practice and I’ve never hired an associate.

But I will tell you the questions I ask when I talk to recent dental school grads: I ask questions about what they are interested in professionally. I don’t buy into the “I like it all” answer; I think deep down if you are honest there is some aspect of dentistry you like above the others. For me, I liked oral surgery best, which is why I went into it!

I also ask questions to see if you are opening to learning: you don’t stop learning the day you graduate. I want to see if new dental graduates are open to continue learning. I still learn every day. We have to keep learning not only in our practice, but in our lives, too.

You are learning techniques and other things today that I would have no idea about – I can learn from you, and of course, you can learn from me.

Next you ask about resumes: resumes are really a list of your accomplishments and achievements. Personally, I will glance at a resume to see if there is anything unique to talk to you about.

Things that have impressed me in the past: a woman who was an air traffic controller in the Air Force. This woman was looking for a position in my office. She was only in her 20s but I knew she could handle stress and I knew she could handle my front desk if she could handle air traffic control!

I’m more about life experience, education is important but it’s not everything. I’d rather have the person who has 3.2 average who was involved in activities outside the classroom like community volunteering, mission trips, military experience, etc. I’d prefer that person over the person who does nothing but study and has a 4.0 GPA and gets a 98 on their boards because that person with the outside activities and lower GPA can relate to others.

If you aren’t there right now, that’s okay. I’m encouraging you to get out and experience life. Good grades are important, but I feel like the folks who excel are the ones who have experienced life in a variety of fashions.

Continuing in that vein, I tell a story of a guy I was on a mission trip with. He wanted to go to dental school and asked for my advice. Listen in to hear the question I asked him, and why it’s a question you should be asking yourself.

And I wrap up with a discussion on failures, how to look at them and why having them and accepting responsibility for them is a characteristic I look for when talking to new dental graduates.

I hope this helps you, email me if you have more questions and I’m happy to talk more. Thank you for being here, I appreciate you for listening and being part of the discussion on episode 79 of Business of Dentistry.

Tweetable: “We can learn from each other.”

Episode Resources

Gary Takacs’ Thriving Dentist podcast
Dentalpreneur podcast with Dr. Mark Costes
Start Your Dental Practice podcast with Jason VanHorn
The Dental Hacks podcast
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