Yesterday minus twenty-five years was the day I graduated dental school. What a relief that was! In some ways, it seems like yesterday. In other ways, it still seems like yesterday!
Going into dentistry, I had no idea I would like it as much as I do. Certainly, my experience in dental school would not have given me such an idea.
After dental school, I spent 3 years in the Navy, which had its ups and downs, but I’d say about 99% ups. It was a great professional, cultural, and social experience. I learned a lot more in the Navy than I did in dental school. It was in the Navy where my love for dentistry really began.
Out here in the civilian world, I learned even more through extensive C.E. and a desire to learn and perform at my best. I worked as an associate in two different offices for about 3 years before starting my practice from scratch. I decided against participation in managed care plans. To this day, I have steadfastly refused to get involved with it. It has NOT been an easy road.
But, I still love dentistry! If I won the lotto, I’d still be doing it… with a few more vacations!
It’s a good thing I still love it. In this economy, we’ve all taken a hit. It’s been tough! I’m hearing about dental offices going out of business across the country. Some days I really wonder what I’m doing and why.
There are days I envy those with a “regular” job… the kind where you invest nothing, borrow nothing, have no vested interest, walk away from at 5:00 pm and never think about again until the next day… AND get a predictable salary, benefits, insurance, and even a pension.
I’m a GOOD dentist. I do GOOD work. I actually do treat my patients like my own family. I’m HONEST. And, still it’s been tough.
But, I’m hanging in there. The economy WILL get better. I just don’t know WHEN.
It seems more and more people are looking for “bargains.” Honesty and good work sometimes feel like an exercise in futility. Yet, I must continue to have faith in those character traits. I must believe that it WILL pay off. Some day. To give up on that would mean giving up on what I love to do and who I am.
After 25 years, I am in a comfortable place, professionally. I feel competent. I know what I’m doing. I can handle just about any complex restorative case. I’ve been published. I’ve been on the lecture circuit. On the other hand, I feel like I’m just getting started! I feel like I have a long career ahead of me. And, it will be good. I have a wonderful family. I have a wonderful staff. I’m ready to ride the next wave.
Stay true to yourself. Find your passion and follow it! And, don’t take shit from anyone.