Well, this is my fourth official blog and I have not gotten yanked by the boss or anything, which is good. Let’s see if I can make it a few more.
As many of you might remember, I was in the Navy as a dentist for seven years. I remember when people would hear I was a dentist and would day “Oh you must be rich!” In many ways I was but, as a military dentist, not financially. During that time in the Navy, I was relocated five times. We never lived under the same roof for more than two years. Always moving became the norm. Gainesville, Fla to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla, to San Diego, then to Washington D.C. Next stop, Camp Lejeunce, N.C. and finally home to Ocala.
When my wife and I decided it was time to take my skills to the civilian world, we decided to build our next home. We knew it was not going to be our final resting place; we tried to build a nice but modest home. Getting out of the military as a dentis,t my salary dwarfed in comparison to most of my friends in private practice. I still had no clue or concept of my true earning potential in the civilian world. Frankly, I was nervous, anxious, maybe even scared about if I could make it in my view of the dog-eat-dog world of dentistry outside the military.
It was the same feeling I had going from high school to the University of Florida. All my teachers told me the first two years at UF were weed-out years when they would do everything they could to flunk you out. My response was the same to both situations: I worked my tail off and never gave up. I have been out of the Navy for five years, and feel I have been successful in many ways. I share a great practice with a great partner. I have many great PAYING patients and many more wanting to join them. The financial side of dentistry has been better than I thought. I do work five times as hard as I had to in the military, but the rewards are there.
Back to the house situation. My wife and I have been saving money to try to save up for a larger home closer to the office. We had a third boy about sixteen months ago. The home we were previously living in is nice but it just seems like it has gotten smaller over the years, especially with three boys running around now. We started our hunt several months ago and finally found a great deal (short sale = their loss, our gain), less than a mile from the house. It is a beautiful larger home, really almost our dream home. We took the plunge, and with the help of my Veterans Administration Certificate and some luck, we got the house. I built our previous house during the real estate boom; I am upside down in that house now and cannot sell without a big loss. We decided to rent (finding a renter is a blog in itself) and we found a nice young family.
Wow. I had forgotten what a pain in the @#$ moving is, especially now with three kids. It is amazing how much more stuff you accumulate with kids. In the military, I would get a few paid days off work to move, but not anymore! I hired some movers and did the rest myself. Having to do dentistry during the day and moving in between can make for a very long day. We finally got all moved in and we had to do some work on the house. I like to ask patients to help. I like to give back some business to them but this does make me a little uneasy in some situations.
For example, we had a patient come to the house for a job. Towards the end he gave me a joking comment. However, I think there was some serious undertone to it. “I guess the cost of my next crown is going to go up to pay for this house.” I laughed it off, but it really bothers me to think people would feel that way. Like many of you, I took out student loans, busted my butt for 10 years in post high school education, served in the military, and still work my tail off to do the best dentistry and take care of patients the best way possible.
I do not know why I feel guilty or bad when someone makes that sort of comment. Oh well. I guess it is another burden I must deal with and continue to struggle against. When I think of this beautiful home, I also think how blessed I am to have these great patients that trust me to take care of them the best that I can. This is also due to the fact that I have had great mentors - professors, colleagues, parents, family and friends - that have given me the knowledge and skills to meet my goals.
Dentistry has allowed to go far beyond what I thought I could do with some hard work, and along the way, to help others as well.
And I do not plan on moving ever again, if I can help it.
Have a great week!
Joseph C Joyce, DMD, MS