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THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador Blogs

The Importance of Making Relationships with Professors

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Amidst exams, preclinical work, and extracurricular activities, dental school is a grueling four years. It requires both hard work and complete dedication to the field. Unless you have parents or friends who are dentists, it is quite difficult to find a mentor in school. Approaching faculty and administration might seem daunting, but it is necessary considering the fact that we are not given a full picture of dentistry.

As a D3, I am still in La-la land because I am not nose deep in books anymore. With that being said, I see the stress that D4s are going through. The one’s who seem to be best prepared to transition are those who have developed professional relationships with faculty. By building rapport with faculty, you are setting yourself up to ask for letters of recommendation and professional advice. For the first two years, pick just a few professors to go to during the preclinic hours. Talking to them and showing your progress gives them a sense of what kind of person you are, and helps them distinguish you from your peers. These are the same doctors who will one day assist you in attending your dream residency, or sell their practice to you when they retire.

Perhaps the biggest shortcoming of dental schools is the lack of focus on the processes of business. If you ever hope to own your own practice, there is a lot to learn in order to be prepared. Even though you are entering a field with thousands of professionals across the country, you will never find a more fruitful opportunity to network. Even though clinic is constantly busy and there is always something to do, try taking the time to speak to faculty on a more personal level. Many of them are excited to share what they love about the field and what they think can be improved. Faculty has taught me everything I needed to know about overhead, staff management, and trends in the field. My school has an especially diverse population of faculty. Some have been working at the school for 50 years, and some are just a few years removed from graduation. The different experiences they have had turn into so many different lessons and tips that you can learn for your future practice. You need only ask.

In a few short years, the faculty you’ve studied alongside will be your colleagues, so it is important to remain professional and diligent in your work. Many students from my school are recruited by faculty to work as associates in their offices. Maintaining a high standard for yourself in the clinic may very well open opportunities after graduation. The faculty are there to guide your education, but many may become your greatest influences in your professional lives. Do not go through school without taking advantage of all that is available to you. The most successful dentists are the ones who use the tools around them to improve not only their hand skills, but their business acumen as well.