Design Your Professional Future

by Mark Lin BSC, DDS, MSC, FRCD(C); Peter Barry CMC, RRDH

The learning curve for recent graduates transitioning into private practice is steep and very rewarding for those who prepare themselves for thriving in a profession that is under rapid transformation. After four challenging and rewarding years, you will anxiously await the arrival of your licence. It will be an exciting time, filled with considerations and questions such as:

• What will I do beyond graduation?
• How comfortable am I clinically?
• What are my continuing educational learning opportunities?
• What career paths are best suited to my professional growth?
• How will I earn enough to live comfortably while paying off school debts?
• What practice settings might I enjoy working in most?
• Should I specialize?
• Where will I be happiest living and working, geographically?

A seeming lifetime will have been spent to reach this point, with a big investment of money, time and effort along the way. But with focus and dedicated work, graduation will come and you will find yourself looking for ways to turn your dental training into a rewarding career and fulfilling lifestyle.

Up to this point, school has trained you to be skilled clinicians; it has also taught you to be capable thinkers that use knowledge, skill and good judgment in clinical chairside situations. Now you have an opportunity to utilize these traits and apply them to the planning of your career and life path.

When it comes to your future, just like treatment planning, practice planning and goal setting are an important first step. Taking strategic time prior to graduation to think about your unique circumstances and desires for your future will have a huge impact on where you end up. Designing your future proactively is incredibly important so you don’t randomly end up wherever the winds of chance happen to take you. Simply put, if you don’t know where you are going, then any road will get you there.

If you want to be in greater control of your future, set aside special time well in advance of graduation to reflect on your values and circumstances, as well as your desires and opportunities for professional development. Put it in writing. Read it often and expand on it periodically. This will help you to clearly establish where you want to end up and the path that might best get you there. Doing this will also help you become more mindfully aware of your clinical abilities and your higher learning opportunities. It will ultimately make you more intentional in your day-to-day activities as you take micro steps and make micro decisions that are driven by your deepest needs and highest interests. Along the way, you will find that you are not as easily seduced by shortsighted opportunities that could trick you into sacrificing your long-term goals to satisfy short-term perceived needs.

No matter what year you are in, start designing your ideal future today. When you think about something, it’s a dream; when you talk about it, it becomes exciting; when you plan it, it becomes possible; and when you schedule it, it becomes real. Seize your opportunities by planning your empowered future in dentistry, today.

About the Authors

Dr. Mark H. E. Lin graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy’s dental program, completed a General Practice Residency program at the Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, OH, and then received post-graduate training in prosthodontics at the University of Toronto. He maintains a full-time practice as a prosthodontist.



Peter is a highly sought-after speaker and Transformational Trainer. He is the founder of “Practice Mastery” a team development company that serves the growth & development needs of your practice. Reach him at 416-568-5456 IG @peterbarrycoach

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