There are Many Reasons to Consider a Career in Dentistry
Whether you are just starting to think about your career or are considering a transition, there are some questions you will want to reflect upon as you do your research: What will a dental career look like? Is there work-life balance? Can I make a difference to people’s lives by being a dentist? Why be a dentist, everything considered?
Of course, every dentist has their own set of reasons for entering into the profession. But here at Heartland Dental, we do hear some common themes from our supported dentists when asked about why they became dentists in the first place. They all agree that a dental career provides a stimulating mix of challenges, opportunities, and rewards. More importantly, they all feel that they are helping to make the people in their communities healthier.
What Does a Dental Career Look Like?
Education and Licensing
Becoming a dentist requires investing in your education. After earning an undergraduate degree, you will need to apply to an accredited dental school to earn a doctorate in the field—either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD). At the end of this process, you will need to take both a written and a practical exam to pass your state’s license requirements.
Though most dental school graduates aim to become general dental practitioners, some choose to specialize in a particular field, such as orthodontics or pediatric dentistry. These specialties require a few more years of school and, typically, also come with a residency requirement and further licensing.
Finding a Job, Starting a Practice
Once the educational, residency, and licensing components are completed, you are free to practice your trade! Many newer dentists choose to sign on as an associate with an existing practice. With experience, some choose to open their own practices. Some even seek the support of a Dental Support Organization, like Heartland Dental. This option gives dentists control over their own practice while also providing them the management support they need to keep the office running and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
A Typical Day as a Dentist
When they schedule their work just right, most dentists spend their days seeing patients and helping them with their oral health and their smiles. Most dentists work 9-to-5, and during that time might see up to 20 patients.
In addition to seeing patients, dentists will work with their team, which will typically include dental hygienists, dental assistants, and office managers or administrators. They participate in “team huddles,” for example, and may sit in on sales presentations by supply representatives.
If the dentist owns and runs their own practice, there are many more responsibilities outside of seeing patients: keeping the books, running marketing campaigns, hiring new employees, and planning for new business growth. A dental practice is still very much a business, and so keeping things running smoothly can take a lot of time and effort. (This is one of the main reasons dentists turn to DSOs like Heartland; we can take care of managing the day-to-day tasks so the dentist can focus on patients.)
What Do Professionals Like About Being a Dentist?
When we ask dentists directly what they like about being a dentist, and why they became one, these are some of the answers we get:
- You can shape your own career and be independent
- It’s possible to earn a good salary and retire comfortably
- It’s a career with a long tradition and lots of exciting modern innovations
- There are plenty of career options and areas of focus
- There is challenge and creativity in the work of a dentist
- Improving the health of people in the community is a noble career choice
- It feels good to help people be more confident about their smile, and themselves
Dental professionals who work in a Heartland Dental supported office, have access to all these benefits and more. Heartland Dental provides comprehensive support to dental practices and team members within the Heartland Dental support network, helping both supported doctors and practices to continually grow personally and professionally. We offer extensive opportunities for training and continuing education and a positive working environment with a healthy work-life balance.
What Can a Dentist Expect to Earn?
Answering the question “How much does a dentist earn?” is a little tricky. Not only do dentist salaries vary by state, specialization, and years of experience, but the salary data itself changes from year to year.
Is There Work-Life Balance?
Most dentists work full-time schedules during business hours, but this will vary from practice to practice. Some open early, stay open late, or open on weekends to best accommodate their patients’ schedules. This can create a very flexible or a very demanding work schedule, depending on the volume of patients seen.
The good news is that a higher volume of patients directly affects the overall health of the practice. Also good news: The hours are usually very predictable and stable.
A Career With Purpose: Making Communities Healthier and More Confident
A career in the dental field—whether as a dentist, office professional, or any other position in the dental industry—is one of the most rewarding lines of work anyone can embark on. But many things have to fall into place to truly feel those rewards.
Dentistry is all about helping people smile, which gives patients the confidence they need to believe in themselves. As a dental professional, you can rest assured knowing your work is changing lives for the better—and that's something to be proud of.
Dental Careers Besides Being a Dentist
There are, of course, other careers in the field of dentistry outside of being a dentist. Each has its own responsibilities, educational requirements, and earning potential. You may want to consider opportunities as a dental assistant, dental hygienist, dental office manager, or dental technician.
Why Do You Want to Be a Dentist?
Ultimately, it does not matter why other dentists and dental health professionals chose their career. What matters is that you are clear on your own career goals and expectations. Becoming a dentist requires a great deal of investment in your education and training, and even more investment if you decide to start your own practice. That investment usually pays off in a career that is stable, has good earning potential, and is full of creative, challenging, meaningful work.
Dentists who choose to affiliate with Heartland Dental love what they do, they often just feel overwhelmed with the day-to-day details of managing a practice. Heartland Dental can help alleviate some of this stress. Check out what one of our dentists had to say about affiliating with Heartland Watch Now.
If you're interested in learning more about Heartland Dental, don't hesitate to reach out. Contact us today for more information (866) 929-0040.