There I was, sitting on stage at my dental school graduation, with no clue what to do next. I knew that I needed to find a job but it was going to take three months before my license to become active. Three months to do anything felt like a lifetime after becoming accustom to cramming for exams in dental school.
I spent the first two months of that break recovering from dental school. With only one month to go before I was finally able to have people call me “Dr. Drew Byrnes” I found a great opportunity in a private practice. I spent the remainder of that month shadowing this dentist. I was there every day, meeting the patients and getting a feel for the office.
Then, when there was only one more week before I could treat my first patient, the dentist sent me an email explaining that he had to let me go because he found someone with more experience who he felt was a better fit. Imagine my panic when I read this news. After years of preparation, here I am on the cusp of beginning my career and I don’t even have a job lined up. Thus began the hustle.
I began looking for a job everywhere. And I mean everywhere. When I explored all of my options to find a job, I turned to the last place that I would expect to find someone looking to hire a dentist: Craigslist (half of you are going to laugh at the idea of finding a job on Craigslist but I bet all of you are going to go check it out for yourselves.)
Fast forward one year and at least five associate positions later and I now own my own private practice. In that year I got a lot of experience learning from many dentists, each with their own way of treating patients and running an office. I will be sharing some of that experience in future blog posts, but for now, I would like to share some of what I learned on my mission to find full-time employment.
If you are just starting to look for a job as a dentist, I do not recommend starting on Craigslist. Start by deciding where you want to live. Generally speaking, there can be some great opportunities to make a good living in more rural areas. In bigger cities, it can often be harder to get new patients. For me, the decision was about being close to family.
Once you decide on a location, you have another big question to answer. Do you want to work in a corporate dental office or in a private practice? I considered working in a corporate office but I knew that my long-term goal was to own a private practice. I decided that the best route for me would be the one that gives me the most experience in a private practice setting. I recommend exploring both because it’s good to keep your options open. In fact, I recommend scheduling any and all interviews that you can. You never know what might turn out to be a good fit or what may fall through last minute. Trust me, it is good to have back ups.
After you decide on a location and have a general idea of how you would like to practice, you can begin your job hunt. Start by contacting anyone that you may know in dentistry in the area that you want to practice. If you grew up there, call your dentist and ask if he or she knows anyone looking to hire an associate. Next, reach out to the supply reps for the dental supply companies in the area (Patterson, Henry Schein, Benco, etc.) These reps know all of the dentists in a given area and they often keep records of which offices are looking to hire. You should also reach out to your local dental organization. Many of them have placement services.
Once you have explored any and all options that involve actually speaking with people, turn to the Internet. Many local and state organizations have online publications that include classifieds. These will often have job listings. The ADA CareerCenter is one online resource for searching dental career opportunities or recruiting dental professionals. You could also try to search the Internet for “dental classifieds” followed by the name of your city. When all else fails, search Craigslist.
Dr. Drew Byrnes is a New Dentist Now Guest Blogger. He graduated from the University of Florida College of Dentistry in 2013. His practice, Dr. Drew Byrnes Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, can be found at 199 E. Welbourne, Ste 200, Winter Park, FL 32789, 1-407-645-4645. In his free time, he enjoys running, spending time with his wife and volunteering with his church and in his community.