The best thing about being a dentist? Your career can be whatever you want. Although I’m not a specialist in every subject, I do know the basics. I was able to pass dental school with enough knowledge to make it through the day. It was up to me from there to find opportunities and fill in the gaps. I’ve found many ways to do that in the last seven years. I learned a lot by attending professional seminars, using social media, and getting advice from former classmates. This has helped me to understand myself better and shape my practice. More importantly, I’ve discovered that the path I choose, and the success I achieve is within my control.
Are you feeling like you have only gotten a fraction of the root canals you need? Are you looking to do more? Great! Find out more about them. There are many people who can teach you more about endodontics than you thought. You can be a great endodontist even if you are a general dentist. If you put your mind to it, you will become a master at it. You can also choose to learn about other aspects or dentistry you are interested in. It doesn’t matter if you love it or loathe it.
Sleep and obstructive sleeping apnea fascinate me. Our lives are so dependent on sleep. It is why every living creature on the planet sleeps. Even animals in constant predation risk spend a substantial portion of their lives sleeping. I can’t even count the number of continuing educations hours I have acquired on the subject over the years. Today, I spent the morning with Stacia Gombanik, M.D. a noted neurologist who has a particular interest for sleep.
Dr. Gomanik is an expert on this subject. One thing I discovered was that there are many ways to help a patient who has trouble sleeping. Our dentists can help patients with sleep problems by repositioning of the mandible. Her treatments are unique because she is a doctor. We can collaborate to give our patients the best care. That’s what’s great!
The morning ended with James Nestor, an acclaimed author, talking about nasal breathing. He is a pretty big deal if you haven’t heard of his book, “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art.” Mr. Nestor explained that there is more to meet the eye regarding breathing. It isn’t just as simple as breathing oxygen in and breathing carbon dioxide out. How you accomplish this task can have some pretty profound health consequences — this breathing and our evolution in modern society influence how we breathe and how our facial structures develop. These subjects fascinated me greatly, and I’m excited to apply what I learned to my general practice and to my patients in dental sleep medicine.
Maybe sleep isn’t your thing, or maybe these speakers would put you to sleep (sorry, I couldn’t resist the joke.) Not every topic has to be your cup. Our profession allows us to focus on any topic we choose. In addition to taking a ton of CE, today’s technology makes it easier than ever to learn from your peers. You can find a Facebook group that covers almost everything, and you can also use message boards such as Dentaltown to exchange ideas with other doctors.
Some people have a lot of experience while others don’t. It is important to remember that each person has a different perspective on the problem you are trying to solve. A group chat with classmates from dental school is my favorite. There is plenty of banter and non-dental chat in our chat but there are some great doctors in the group. Many of us are general dental practitioners, while others are specialists in ortho, endo and oral surgery. I can quickly send an Xray to my friends and get help with tricky cases. I usually get an answer back within minutes.
I’ve heard some dentists tell me that their class wasn’t as tight knit as mine. If you didn’t have a close group of classmates to lean on for support and guidance in your new profession, those peers could be found in your local dental society. Send a text or start a thread. Learning from your peers is essential. Mentor relationships can also be very beneficial. Because peers are often going through the same learning curves you are, the relationship with them can be very powerful.
Although dental school is an excellent foundation, it should not be considered the end of your learning journey. It isn’t the culmination of your learning. Our patients deserve the best treatment possible, so we must continue to improve ourselves. There is no end to the possibilities for advancement, and it is possible to rely on the support of your dental community. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to see a doctor that hasn’t dedicated themselves to a lifetime of learning. Get out there and meet your peers. Each other can be great dentists. And if you want to connect with me, you can connect with me on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/dr-jonathan-hale.
Dr. Jonathan Hale owns and operates Fort Wayne Sleep Solutions and Hale Family Dentistry. After earning his doctor of dentistry from Indiana University School of Dentistry, he began his career in Florida and then returned to Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is a member of the American Dental Association, Indiana Dental Association, Isaac Knapp District Dental Society, and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, and a and a guest blogger with the ADA New Dentist Now Blog. He is currently enrolled in the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine masters program. His website contains more information about Dr. Jonathan Hale. haledentistry.comOr fwsleep.com.