Having practiced dentistry for more than 20 years, I have many long-time patients who have become a part of our practice. Over the years, as they’ve gotten to know me, several have asked me how I got into dentistry. It’s not a question I’ve answered on the blog before, but in building a rapport with my patients and prospects, I’d like to take the time to answer it now.
Perhaps my story can be helpful to someone who is interested in becoming a dentist, or parents who are looking to point their kids in the right direction.
My path to becoming a dentist
My story starts in the third grade. My mother required extensive dental work and realized she was at a tipping point with her dental health. She spent a lot of time and money at the dentist and over the course of her treatment developed a great relationship with her dentist. She said to me “if you could bring people the type of happiness that my dentist has brought to me, that would be a wonderful thing for a person to do.”
Her relationship with her dentist really stuck out to me. So, in third grade I went to my guidance counselor and told her I was thinking about becoming a dentist. She shared a stack of papers with me about the profession, and from then on, I knew I would be a dentist.
In high school and college, I spent a lot of time in dental offices. I would visit some offices that I didn’t feel good about, and others that got me excited about practicing dentistry. I also visited various specialists to see if I preferred general dentistry, oral surgery, orthodontics, or endodontics. This was a great practice to see if I could truly tolerate the procedures and the pace of the work.
Things started to get serious when I got to college. I loved science and was surrounded by it on that part of the University of Florida campus. The dental school was also full of competitive, high-energy, type A people. Which is not to say that everyone needs to be that way, but it fit my personality.
In dental school, I thrived when it came to the academics, but worried that when it came down to it, I might not be good with my hands. This is a common fear of dental students. Particularly, given that they have no hands-on experience until they start their clinics. Thankfully, I was great with my hands when I got into the clinic and could see myself in the profession.
The area I struggled at was the organizational side – scheduling patients, keeping up with my requirements, booking the clinic, etc. Fortunately, having shadowed my childhood dentist Dr. Price in high school and college, I knew that I could hire a great staff to manage that side of a practice.
After dental school, I went to work Dr. Price. He had offered me a job before I got into dental school and truly believed in me and my skills. I worked alongside of him for many years, learning from him and his team and eventually took over the practice when he retired.
What I love about dentistry
Being more than 20 years into my dental career, I’ve had people ask me if I would choose dentistry again if I had to start over. My answer is empathically yes. Most people that know me know I love what I do. I love the profession of dentistry because it is both art and science, it’s creative and analytic, empathetic, and impactful, and can have a big impact on people’s lives.
If you’re interested in the profession, I would encourage you to explore it and see if it’s a good fit for you. The dental community is always in need of people who can help maintain its integrity and help people along their journey to dental health.
Looking for a dentist who is passionate about the profession? Schedule an appointment with our dentist office in Brandon, FL.