May 2019 Volume LIV Number 3


Resident's Corner

The Job Hunt: A Tale of Two Perspectives

November 2016 Volume LI Number 6


By Elena Petrova, D.D.S. Private Practice, Sarasota, Fla.

We all know that a smooth transition from residency to private practice requires planning. I attempted to plan that transition multiple times and every time, something changed. I knew I wanted to be in private practice because I enjoy clinical dentistry and love getting to know my patients and their families. I knew I would thrive in a private practice environment because I could foster long-lasting relationships with families.

When I finally made a decision my second year on a practice location, I learned that I chose a very competitive place, but it was the only area my husband and I agreed upon. Since I never lived in Sara- sota before, I did not have any connections, so I began looking at the AAPD job postings and checking I networked with multiple practitioners from other parts of the state and corporate HR repre- sentatives, figuring the more people I talk to, the better the chances of finding the right job. After several months of online searching, I still could not find the ideal job. To me, an ideal job included finding a mentor who stays current with the literature, has a similar treatment philosophy, and is involved with the Academy. I did not want to take any job just to say that I had one.

When my husband and I went to Florida for a week during winter break, I mailed my resume, including a brief description of my clinical strengths. For example, I indicated proficiency with permanent tooth root canals, orthodontics, and various oral sedation regimens, hoping this would set me apart from other candidates. I did not receive re- sponses right away. I spoke with a number of corporate practices, but I was a little hesitant about corporate dentistry because none of them could offer me a job in one location.

Finally, in spring, I spoke with my current employer. The very first phone conversation was a positive and exhilarating experience. My interview consisted of multiple phone conversations and an in-person visit to the office. The phone conversations were very casual—we wanted to make sure that our personalities clicked and that we had the same ideas about what success means. During the in-person visit, I shadowed for a day and went out for dinner with him and his wife.

I was impressed they took time to get to know me and my family. The best advice I would give to residents is: be yourself when you inter- view. The person hiring you should know who you are based on your genuine character, not just your A+ interview behavior.

After the contract was signed, I had a couple of stressful weeks where I needed to get malpractice and disability insurance, update my NPI, get a DEA license, among other things. Slowly things started falling into place. The best disability and malpractice rates are usually available to existing residents and new graduates, so I made sure to get a policy before graduating. In my experience, the sedation permit was probably the most difficult to get given all of the documentation and strict requirements.

My first day of work, we had no patients and spent the day meet- ing the team. I started seeing patients the next day. All existing fami- lies of the practices received a letter from the office introducing me to the community. It was an important gesture that afforded me a smooth transition. I discovered the first week of work that it was easier for the staff if all doctors in the practice used the same materials, instruments, and note templates. It was also great that my treatment philosophy was in sync with the owner dentist. High quality and consistency in every aspect of patient care is what makes patients and parents feel comfortable and trust you. I was pleasantly surprised with how ac- cepting and welcoming everyone has been during my first months of practice and I am so happy with my decision.


By Scott Schwartz, D.D.S., M.P.H.

Assistant Professor, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center When I interviewed for residency programs, I already thought I wanted to pursue a career in academic dentistry. In the course of my training, however, I explored all options. I inquired about associating, considered purchasing a practice, learned about opening a new prac- tice, and discovered unique opportunities in academics. As a resident in pediatric dentistry, you have made a significant investment in your career and you owe it to yourself to explore all avenues of potential interest to find the best fit.

The daily variety was the greatest factor in deciding to pursue an academic career; no two days of the week are alike. There are oppor- tunities to do clinical dentistry, be involved with research, and mentor students and residents. When I officially decided to apply to academic positions, I designed a cover letter and CV to best represent my skills and talent with the help of the faculty at my program. Curricula vitae and resumes differ significantly when applying to academic positions versus those in private practice. Having another set of eyes review your credentials is critical—be sure to seek advice!

When it came to actually searching for jobs, I began looking ear- nestly the November before graduation. I found my networking efforts at the Annual Session, Lobby Day, and local meetings to be a crucial factor in finding a position. You never know when or with whom new opportunities may crop up. Additionally, I regularly checked the AAPD Career Center and the ADEA DentEd Jobs pages.

The application process at academic institutions can be daunting and time consuming. Although all places are different, I was flown out to visit and provided accommodations to have a chance to experi- ence my potential new home. Each interview required a 20-45 minute presentation on any topic of interest. This was the most intimidating part of the process. Otherwise, it was a lot of meeting faculty, learning about the institution, and deciding if our interests and goals meshed.

Once a job was officially offered, a lawyer reviewed my con- tract, but there was not much to negotiate as the hospital provides a standard contract to new doctors. The onboarding and credentialing process required locating and processing a lot of documents, which I didn’t fully consider when trying to wrap things up at the residency and study for boards. Conversely, some aspects of taking an academic job made things easier. I was given a generous relocation package that covered a house hunting visit and moving expenses, the hospital staff enrolled me as a provider for different payers, and my malpractice and disability insurance were arranged and paid through the hospital.

Now that I am fully entrenched in my new job, I could not be hap- pier with my decision. Every day of the week is different, which suits my wide interest base. On Monday I treat patients conventionally in a private-practice type outpatient clinic, on Tuesday I teach residents in the operating room, on Wednesday I treat my own patients in the operating room, on Thursday I have research time, and on Friday I teach residents in the clinic. I take call for two months total each year. I have unique opportunities to collaborate with the community, local and scientific. I am not financially tied to my patients or a business and consequently have the freedom to practice ideally and actually enjoy my paid time-off. I leave work every day feeling satisfied.

The Job Search can be a simultaneously exciting and stressful experience. In the end, I think the key to successfully finding a posi- tion was giving myself plenty of latitude and time. Latitude to decide exactly what type of job I wanted and time to meet the right people to find it. Despite the anxiety, my best advice is to enjoy the ride. You have worked hard for this moment! Be confident in your training, humble in your approach, and honest about what is going to sate your profes- sional goals.

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