Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Clinical Instructor's Humble Perspective

Happy Friday! Are you in a TGIF frame of mind this week? I often have mixed feelings about getting swept up in the “Thank Goodness It’s Friday” mindset. While I do love my weekends, I truly love my practice as well. I almost feel guilty that I don’t always set my sights on the weekend. It wasn’t always that way though.

To be perfectly frank, the strong love that I have for my business didn’t come right away. Dentistry was actually my second career. I was a registered nurse for 10 years before I decided that I wanted to join my dad in his well-established dental practice. I had two very young children when I made this decision. I don’t have to tell any of you just how much of a challenge it was to go to dental school and be the mom that I wanted to be for my kids at the same time. To say my life was stressful is a bit of an understatement.

When I graduated, I naively thought that I’d hop right in alongside my dad and the patients would be lining up outside the door waiting to see me. Okay, I wasn’t THAT naïve. But, despite my dad’s generosity, his patients wanted to see him. They did not want to see the daughter they had heard of but had no relationship with. I realized that I had to earn my stripes and their respect. It was not an easy road. I had loans to pay, mouths to feed, and a mortgage. I started supplementing my income by working as a visiting nurse on my off days and as the dentist for a local nursing home. Gradually, my patient base grew to the point that I was able to slowly wean myself from my other jobs.

Over the past 23 years, my business has grown and evolved. I’ve learned many, many valuable lessons about owning a business. These lessons have translated into career satisfaction, a successful business and a desire to teach others what I have learned. I teach at the academic level as a clinical instructor at Marquette University School of Dentistry and at the business level as Social Media DDS.

I am really excited to be part of a truly amazing group of bloggers at the AGD’s The Daily Grind! I love reading of our colleagues’ adventures in the world of dentistry and how our chosen career impacts our daily lives. I look forward to sharing with you my take on the business of dentistry and what I do to always keep it interesting.

Teaching, at some level, has always been a passion for me and an integral part of my professional life. I enjoy teaching patients, teaching dental students, and even teaching dental offices best marketing strategies. I want to share some of my observations of the dental students that are going to be our dental colleagues in a few years.

I have been a clinical instructor for almost five years now. I have to tell you that I am absolutely ecstatic about the quality of today’s dental students and the passion for dentistry that they exude. It is a sincere pleasure to work with these students. I am touched by their enthusiasm and their respect not only for their patients but for their clinical instructors as well. I am moved by their seemingly unquenchable thirst for knowledge and sincere desire to listen to any and all tips that the clinical instructors share.

I am thrilled to keep in touch with many of the students (now dentists) after graduation and watch how they evolve into a fine representation of the dental industry and an honorable representation of Marquette’s dental school. I realize that I am slightly biased in my love of Marquette. I am completely aware that there are many wonderful dental schools out there (including my own alma mater, University of Illinois College of Dentistry). These schools produce phenomenal students and have exceptional faculty guiding them in their daily endeavors.

If there are any colleagues out there who have thought about teaching at their alma mater or the nearest dental school, please do give it serious consideration. I can’t think of a more rewarding experience than to watch students as they move from year to year with increased knowledge and confidence and an ever-growing commitment to the dental industry. It is inspirational to me. I found myself going back to work after teaching each day and wanting to do better. My patients deserve the very best and so do my students. The students deserve to know that I am willing to walk the walk and teaching has helped to keep me honest and humble.

If you are a faculty member at a dental school, I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below. I would also love to hear the thoughts and experiences of any dental students going through the rigors of dental school. I love seeing brand new dentists like Dr. Diana Nguyen and dental students like Katie Devine and Dave Coviak contributing alongside the seasoned dentists here on The Daily Grind!

Here’s to a great experience for writers and readers alike!

Claudia Anderson, DDS


Anonymous said...

Two questions. You can answer these in a future blog if you wish.

I've considered teaching at the local dental school. However, I have two concerns:

1) Wouldn't I be training future dentists that would set up their offices next to me and compete with me

2) With all the young dentists unable to find work am I really doing anyone a favor by training even more dentists.

Again, you can answer these later if you wish.


Unknown said...

Hello! Thanks for stopping by and I really appreciate your thoughtful comment. I DO think that those are two very compelling topics to deal with in a future post. And, I will! But, instead of making you wait, let me give you my short answers. To your first question, I feel it is really important to let go of the "compete" holding onto the idea that we are competing with one another, we are disallowing for the possibility of growth BECAUSE of your neighbor colleagues (I'll talk about the growth potential in a future post) I actually have a dentist neighbor right down the hall in my building and we end up helping each other out and this has created a great deal of good will. To your second question I am sure you are referring to the urban saturation of dentists (again, I am living that scenario with my practice in the Chicago suburbs) This is a little tougher problem. There is a HUGE need for dentists in under served communities both urban and rural. I think it is our responsibility to create awareness of the need for dentists in these communities to young people who are expressing a desire to become dentists. More and more of our graduating dentists are heading out into the rural communities in need because they have a clear understanding of the over-saturation of dentists in the highly coveted urban regions. Again, a great topic for a future post. And, again, thank you for your thoughtful comment!

Jon said...

Thanks for writing!
Jon Hardinger DDS Communications Council

Unknown said...

Hi Jon! My is an honor to be writing among such amazing colleagues!!


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