5 Steps to Planning Your Dental Career

As a dental professional, you spend a lot of time worrying about the health of your patients. But how often do you pause to consider the health of your dental career? When you graduated and began working as a dental professional, you probably had a few long-term career goals. The day to day rush of dealing with patients, paperwork and of course, work/life balance may have pushed those goals to the background. Before long, a few years have gone by and you wonder what happened to those goals you once dreamed about. If you are a new dental graduate there are a lot of options to consider! 


Perhaps you like your current position, but you’ve settled for things that you wish weren’t part of your daily routine. Or maybe your dental career has stalled, and you aren’t sure what to do next. The good news is that these sorts of career questions are totally normal. They also have a simple solution. Create a career plan.


A dental career plan is the perfect way to reflect on where you’ve been, where you want to go, and how you’ll get there, while also considering your skills, talents, and interests. Plus, there is no better time than the end of the year to review your career goals. In fact, taking a step back to examine your dental career can provide the ideal opportunity to launch you into an exciting second or even third act in the new year. The following steps were designed by Dental Dynamic Staffing to help you come up with your career plan.


Step 1: Reflection


The first essential element in creating a career plan is to reflect on where you are with your current career. What did you achieve over the last 12 months? Are you a new graduate or long time #DentalProfessional? Perhaps you started taking on some new responsibilities at your #DentalOffice or you’re expanding your skills through continuing education. Maybe you’re a #DentalAssistant and want to be a #RegisteredDentalAssistant or #Dentist some day. Consider your accomplishments and goals and document them. Think about how you can enhance those accomplishments and continue to grow with the items you enjoy doing most.


It's also important to reflect on what you don’t enjoy and what didn’t go very well over the past year. It’s difficult to revisit the times you’ve struggled or failed, but these experiences can be helpful in identifying areas that need improvement. Write down those items and determine if those are things you can change and if so, how.


Step 2: Self-Assessment


Take a look at yourself and try to identify your personality, core values, work ethic’s, communications habits, personal life, etc. While it might not feel productive to revisit these, self-assessment is a crucial part of creating an effective career plan. Here are a few questions to consider. Read them and write down your thoughts.

  • What do you do in your current dental position?
  • What do you enjoy most about your current job?
  • What do you enjoy most about your work environment and co-workers?
  • What do you like least about your current job, work environment and co-workers?
  • What would you like to do in your dental office that you aren’t doing today?
  • What responsibilities do you have that you wish you could change?
  • What do you value most about your current position?
  • Where do you want to work? (Consider location and ideal office environment)?
  • What concerns do you have that keep you up at night?
  • How does your work life fit in with your personal life?
  • What flexibility do you need to make you happy in your personal life?
  • If you could have your ideal job, what would it be?


Step 3: Be aware of your Options


Now that you’ve finished your reflection and self-assessment, it’s time to give yourself a list of goals.


Many people think they only have one option. That's not true in the dental industry. Make sure you are aware of all your options. Working directly for a company, full time, is definitely one option. Many dental professionals are unaware of the fact that you can work directly for a staffing company or work for both a staffing company and a dental company at the same time. Working full time, temporarily or part time for a staffing company can be a very attractive option! Follow sites that share valuable dental information and videos and follow blogs and industry experts to stay abreast of the latest news.


Working for a staffing company can enhance your work/life balance and could be exactly what you need. Staffing companies offer unlimited flexibility. You can take a longer vacation, work weekends, decide what days to work based on your schedule that week, etc. You might be single and want to work 60 hours a week or you might have several kids and only want to work one day a week. For example, Dental Dynamic Staffing offers quarterly bonuses to employees based on the number of hours you work. In addition, DDS takes care of payroll and taxes so you don’t have to worry about getting hit with an unexpected tax bill at the end of the year. If you need benefits, you might want to work full time for a dentist down the street, and also be a temporary employee three days a month. The options are wide open to you if you align yourself with a good staffing company who takes care of payroll.


Step 4: Set your Goals


Once you know your options, set your goals. Be specific. Make yourself a list of goals that are measurable, achievable and relevant. Be sure to set both long and short term goals as well as a path to accomplish them. Create a list of your short term goals. What do you need to do this month? What do you need to accomplish this year?


Next, what do you want to be doing five years from now? Where do you want to be living? What do you want your lifestyle to be like? Long term goals are important because they factor in your life. Do you want to be a business owner? Do you want to be able to spend more time with your kids? Are you working until you save up to send your kids to college? Is your goal to have a lake house and boat? These are all examples of long term goals. They might seem far fetched today, but having them and revisiting them on a regular basis will help you accomplish them. Your goals may change over time, but keeping them updated is an important task to keep you focused.


Step 5: Build Your Plan


Now that you have all your short- and long-term goals and an inventory of your current skills and interests, it’s time to move forward and think about the steps you’ll need to take to accomplish these goals. First, for goals with a due date, add them to your calendar so you can assess your progress and stay on track. For goals that are a bit more nebulous, spend some time thinking about the best way to achieve them. Reach out to your network of colleagues and friends. Whatever your plans are, write them down and hang them on your refrigerator or another place you look at regularly. You are more likely to achieve goals that are written down and visible to you on a regular basis.


Share your goals with a spouse, colleague, mentor, or friend who will hold you accountable to the goals you’ve set. Most often, career plans fail simply because people forget what they’re working toward. It’s easy to get caught up with patients, family, household issues, etc. Find time to pursue your goals. Strive to meet the deadlines you’ve set for yourself and don’t give up if you get off track.


Companies like Dental Dynamic Staffing can help. DDS can offer options with various hours in a variety of cities. Add contacting DDS to your short term goal list. Even if you don’t switch jobs today, get signed up to be notified when full time, part time and temporary positions are open up near you. Working as a temp at a few different offices, lets you try before you commit. You might like temporary work and decide to do it full time. That’s another option to consider. The key is broaden your knowledge about the dental industry that you are a part of and make the options work for you! Subscribe to dental channels and follow social media sites that can give you valuable information. 

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