48,180 hours or 2,007.5 days or 5.5 years or 5 semesters of pre-clinic, 5 semesters of the clinic, and 1 semester of state examination – that’s how long the dentistry studies last. Anyone who has achieved this feels like a king afterward and thinks: now the (dentist) life finally really starts. After the residency (another 2 years) or an additional specialist training (e.g. another 4 years as an orthodontist), you are mainly looking forward to finally being able to start your own business. And if you want to learn more about a successful dental practice, click here.
The leap into self-employment
Dr. Juliane Becker: For me, it has always been a dream to run my practice. After our move to the south and several letters of initiative to existing practices, I was able to take over my desired practice. From the first consultation to the 1st working day in my practice, it took exactly 6 months. A good structure in the background and targeted processing of checklists helped me to ensure that everything went smoothly with the handover in the end.
Dr. Schamiem Stumpfe: For me, a reverie suddenly became reality. Somehow I had already spent far too much money on consultants and the like to be able to retreat again. After a lot of planning, work, sweat, and tears, I stood in my practice on 9.12.2019. Although it was not yet completely painted and the floor covering was not yet completely laid out, I just thought: Finally I can concentrate completely on my job as an orthodontist.
Arriving in reality: Or why it’s not enough to just be a dentist
And what does our reality look like in practice?
A day in your practice could sometimes have more than 24 hours. While the helpers are preparing the consultation, we are already receiving the first problems when entering the practice rooms: “Dr., the lamp is not working, the sterilizer is rustling, the dental unit is leaking, the trainee is sick”. And, oh yes, the article for the newspaper, which had been so firmly planted, is still missing! So before you swing the drill on the patient, you spend a lot of time looking for any light bulbs, reorganizing the assistance, or making phone calls to clarify the new marketing strategy or even with the bank.
Dentist, craftswoman, personnel manager…
And when the first patients finally come in and promptly walk through a puddle, the dentist discovers completely new abilities in herself, namely as a craftswoman!
Or have you ever heard of O-rings? No, we don’t mean the earrings that you can put in your ear. We mean the root of all evil in dental practice! Does the dental unit leak? The sterilizer whistles? The contra-angle handpiece does not rotate? The O-rings are always to blame! If someone had told us what that was during our studies, we would have saved ourselves many phone calls and costs. That’s why one of the most important tips for your practice is: You must always have O-ring grease and replacement O-rings in practice! These small sealing rings solve 90% of the technical problems.
While you are treating patients, you will again notice this one bare wall that you look at every day. Is this how you imagined your own (chic or cozy) practice? Certainly not. Do you get a master painter organized promptly who solves the problem quickly and according to your ideas? No, of course not! So your skills are also in demand here. After the way to the hardware store, you spend the next few nights redesigning the practice rooms. To finally be able to pursue the actual work as a dentist during the day.
Now also HR Manager…
The most difficult topic in one’s practice, however, is Recruitment! After all, that’s what everyone tells you even before the practice is founded. But you only believe it when you have experienced it yourself! Have you already found a staff that suits you and embodies what the practice embodies? Then hold it well with both hands! You can be happy if the applicant shows up for the interview at all. Believe us: Most of your grey hair will grow when it comes to personnel.
And where is the work-life balance?
The biggest challenge with your practice is: To take time for yourself! Especially in the first year of self-employment, everything in the mind and life feels like everything revolves around the practice. It is often forgotten that at home there may also be a husband and children waiting who do not only want to talk about the practice.
In retrospect, you realize that the weekends should eventually serve the recovery again and you must never lose focus on your health. Self and constantly it hits again and again, but please not at any price.
You have to grow into the challenge of being a good dentist and at the same time a role model and boss for the employees, entrepreneur, and at the same time wife and mother. If you accompany everything with joy and vocation, it is only a snap to keep the daily smile.