When graduating from dental school, many graduates know a great deal about their topic of study, but very little about where to go with all the knowledge they’ve gained. For recent graduates, finding the right dental practice may require some effort, but the payoff can be great. Finding a practice that offers the things you need to learn and grow in the profession can boost your career and help you reach your goals.
When Dr. Bill Shattuck graduated from the dental program at the University of Texas at Houston in 2012, he narrowed his practice search down to three criteria. “I took some classes on transitioning and what to look for in a practice,” he said. “I knew what I wanted to improve upon when I moved into private practice and I knew what was important to me.”
Dr. Shattuck was offered several associateships in major metropolitan areas but only two of his three criteria would be met. It was the job offer at Kristen A. Burris DDS Family Dentistry in a small, rural town in Oklahoma that had everything he needed. He accepted the position in 2013, moved his family to Oklahoma and hasn’t looked back.
Dr. Shattuck’s three criteria when seeking an associateship at a private practice included the following:
• Staff members – Dr. Shattuck knew that he wanted to work with staff members who had the knowledge and drive to make the treatment process a positive experience for both doctors and patients. By talking to staff members during the interview process, he was able to ask questions about how they felt about working with the doctor and gauge their level of enthusiasm about the practice. Because he found a practice with great staff members, Dr. Shattuck says that coming to work everyday is a joy. “Even if it’s a difficult day, everybody pitches in and does a great job and helps out,” he said.
• Technology – The opportunity to work with updated technology that would allow him to grow as a dentist was extremely important.“Not only does technology allow you to provide the best patient care, it can accelerate your learning and growth in the profession,” Dr. Shattuck said. Recent graduates are at an advantage because they are still hungry for more knowledge and are open to learning new technologies. “It is vital that you take advantage of this time to learn and grow as much as possible.”
• Growth – Dr. Shattuck wanted the opportunity to begin working on patients right away, and a senior dentist willing to become a mentor in order to help him develop in the profession.
That’s exactly what he found. His first day in the office, Dr. Burris asked him if he wanted to see a pediatric patient after he had been there for just an hour. Since then, Dr. Burris has been a mentor who has actively guided Dr. Shattuck every step of the way.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m where I need to be right now,” Dr. Shattuck said of his decision to join the practice. He is glad that he determined what’s most important for him and put the energy into finding a practice that offered those opportunities.
He has since signed papers agreeing to take over the practice in several years. Until then, Dr. Shattuck’s goals are to keep improving and keep growing. “If you’re not growing, you’re moving backwards,” he said. “It’s important to live and grow and become a better person than you were the day before.”