What a career in dentistry demands

Dentistry is a rewarding and satisfying profession, but what makes dental school graduates successful dentists?

  • Good judgment
    Exercising good judgment means exhibiting humility. Accept that you don’t know everything, and when you make a mistake, for example, in choosing a staff member that’s not the right fit for your patients or practice, learn from it by promptly correcting it, reflecting on how you would handle it differently in the future, and then move on.

  • Organization
    Being organized is a skill that’s important in every aspect of your life, and particularly so in your career. When you’ve established a clear set of goals for yourself and your business, you are less stressed, more productive and, most importantly, you have the time to focus on providing quality care to your patients.

  • Critical thinking skills
    Critical thinking—the art of using reason to analyze ideas and dig deeper to get to our true potential—isn’t about thinking more or thinking harder, it’s about thinking better. It requires discipline, motivation and the ability to take an honest look at a particular situation, even when faced with an uncomfortable reality. It’s about questioning your assumptions, adjusting your perspective and understanding your own bias. It’s also about putting yourself in other people’s shoes, understanding all of your options and being willing to fail until you succeed. As a dentist dedicated to improving the level of oral health care available to your patients and all of society, critical thinking is an important skill to possess. 

  • Professionalism
    Maintaining a professional persona is critical to becoming a successful dentist. You must be competent, reliable, honest, accountable for your actions and be able to remain cool and calm under pressure.

  • Negotiation skills
    Being a skilled negotiator is critical in most professions and dentistry is no different. Whether it is managing expectations around employee salaries or discussing fees with insurance companies, being an active listener, maintaining emotional control and upholding your ethics are vital to successfully negotiating any situation.

  • Networking skills
    To build up your reputation, credibility and, ultimately, your client base and practice, dentists must be comfortable engaging in different networking opportunities and situations, keeping in mind that the most effective networking is not solely about you and your needs. Successful networking involves asking someone else what they need and connecting them with someone you know and trust. Most importantly, networking is about giving first, without the expectation of something in return. It’s true what they say—those who give, get.

  • Manual dexterity
    Superior eye-hand coordination as a dentist is critical to ensuring the safety of your patients and the integrity of the profession.

  • Maintain continuing education requirements
    As a dentist, you must be committed to constantly expanding your knowledge base and skills, and in turn, passing along that newly discovered wisdom to other colleagues to advance the profession of dentistry. The best way to enhance patient care is to dedicate yourself to evolving your own understanding of the profession and the needs of your community.