Want To Become A Dentist? Here?s What You Should Know First
Here?s What You Should Know First To Become A Dentist?
You may be surprised but the profession of a dentist has been consistently ranked as one of the top careers because of its comfortable income level, low rate of unemployment, and a distinctly superior work-life balance, However, as rewarding as it may be, the career of a dentist can also be extremely challenging. Like every career option, being a dentist has also its own share of pros and cons that need to be taken into account before you decide that it is the right choice for you. Some principal issues:
The Pros of Being a Dentist
Respect: As a profession dentistry is highly-respected and its practitioners invariably enjoy a very high level of trust and respect from their community. Patients rely on their dentists to provide them the best level of care that is possible.
Rewarding: A service-oriented line of work, as a dentist you will be fully engaged in helping people. When you are able to take care of their teeth, not only are you able to stop and cure the reason for pain but also improve their self-confidence and improve their ability to speak and eat properly. It can be immensely gratifying for a dentist to be able to resolve patient concerns like the function or aesthetics of the teeth.
Stability: Dentists have perhaps the lowest rate of unemployment in the country and thus dentists enjoy a very stable career. Oral healthcare will always be in demand, and especially so because of increasing awareness about its cosmetic effects. With the lifespan of people becoming longer, the need for professional dental care is expected to further rise.
Income: A career as a dentist is very well-paying; the BLS reports that in this year dentists had a median salary of $146,340. When you become a dentist you have the option of starting your own practice, listing it in a yelp page for better visibility, and earning much more than as a salaried dentist in a hospital. In a private practice, you can determine for yourself how much you want to earn.
Quality of Life: You can enjoy an exceedingly high quality of life as a dentist as you can more or less stick to very regular hours that will leave you with enough time to devote to your family and personal recreational interests. With a private practice, you can determine for yourself the number of hours and the days of the week you want to work. Young dentists may be found to be slogging away in dental offices in Aurora CO but when you have achieved stability you can afford to work far less.
Self-employment: When you are a qualified dentist, you can choose to set up a private practice, and have all the advantages of being your own boss. A career in dentistry requires very less managed-care so you can enjoy a greater degree of freedom of making your own decisions, unlike other healthcare specialties.
Why a Career in Dentistry May Not Be Attractive
Education: Dentistry requires the acquisition of specialized knowledge, the process of which, can take around 7-8 years after you pass out of high school. While it is not essential for you to have a bachelor?s degree to take admission into a dental school, most of the colleges typically do not accept students who do not possess one. This you will end up spending the first four years at a university earning a bachelor?s degree in a major of your choice. While you can study anything, it makes sense to take up a major in Science because that will help in your further studies. After you graduate, you need to take admission to a dental school, which involves a process of appearing for the DAT and an interview before you are accepted. Generally, all dental courses involve four years of study. The program can be quite tough and stressful. Depending upon your college, you will either receive a DMD or a DDS degree; both are equally reputed and will not make a difference in the quality of your career. After passing out from dental school, you may wish to take up a post-graduate program in General Dentistry that takes one year or elect to take up a specialized dentistry program that can take from two to six years to complete, depending on the chosen specialty.
Demands on Your Time: Quite apart from the time taken to study, most dentists need to spend long hours in their profession attending to patients. Most of the dentists are full-time workers, while some even work in the evenings and weekends. However, if you have your own dental practice, you can choose how much time you want to devote to dentistry, however, it is quite common to find dentists working overtime to pay for their expenses as well as education debt. Patients can also require you to attend to them at odd hours if they have a dental emergency.
Debt: A dental program will usually require you to take on debt. However, in comparison to other undergraduate and graduate programs, dental courses can be prohibitively expensive. According to studies, averagely dental students pass out with around $250,000 of debt on their shoulders. If you have attended one of the more expensive ones then the figure could be double that. When you add on the normal debt that you need to take on for acquiring a car and a house, the figure may be quite alarming. If you want to get a head-start, you can consider buying an existing practice; this should be at least an additional $500,000. Take these figures into consideration before you plunge into studying dentistry.
Stress: No doubt carrying a huge amount of debt is stressful, however, as a dentist you have to continually manage other types of stress as well. These include managing patients, managed care, market competition, and the various concerns of operating your own practice as a viable business. Apart from the financial stress, you need to be more than okay working for long hours in confined spaces dealing with patients with unique physical and medical problems. Then there is also the issue of time management because your reputation will depend a lot on how well you are able to stick to your appointment schedule, despite unanticipated problems encountered during treatment and even patients turning up late.
Weighing the various pros and cons it is clear that while a career as a dentist can be a very rewarding one, both in terms of fulfillment and income, you need to be able to have very high levels of commitment. Not only are you responsible to your patients but you need to be able to deal with all other pain points with a smile and keep yourself and your family insulated from the stresses.
Author bio: Thomas Greene is a very successful dentist and entrepreneur. Over the last two decades, he has established three dental offices in Aurora CO, in the process giving employment to a number of young dentists.