9 Useful Tips for Dental School Grads

By Therese Vannier, RDA/OMSA May 1, 2018

You worked hard to get to this point, and now it’s time to make an impact on the world with your mad dental skills. If you’re ready to take a bite out of life and explore the endless possibilities available to you, check out these tips for making the most out of your first years as a dentist.

Dental graduate

Develop your worth

The challenges of paying off student debt are real, but that shouldn’t prevent you from enhancing your skills by entering a postgraduate training program. These programs expand your dental education and allow you to pursue advanced training in a specialty area, which could be a wise investment for the future. Postgraduate programs vary in length—from one year to six years—and include a wide array of specialized fields. 

Commit to learning

The dental industry is changing more rapidly than ever, so commit to growing and learning with it. When you start a new job at a practice, immerse yourself in the details of the practice and expand your knowledge. This will enable you to make a positive impact on the practice as well as advance your career.

Reach for experiences

Your career path doesn’t necessarily need to go straight up a ladder. Apply your talents to a diverse array of positions and organizations, and you might find that you can still make progress by traveling sideways. If you stick to rigid notions about getting from point A to point B, you may miss out on opportunities that could enrich your life both personally and professionally. 

Be passionate

Find a practice to join that you feel passionate and excited about. Life is too short to settle for a job you don’t particularly like. So focus on finding a place that has an environment, culture and staff that make you feel happy and fulfilled. 

Make an impact

The quicker you make an impact in a practice, the more attention and support you’ll get. Learn as much as possible right away and start mastering your skills so you can latch onto bigger cases and prove yourself. You’ll become more valuable, increase your income, and get to work on some memorable cases.

Measure your outcomes

By measuring your progress and keeping track of your results, you’ll be able to prove and justify your worth in the future. Take photos and document your patients’ journeys from start to finish. Remember to obtain a signed patient consent form and be sure to ask your satisfied patients for testimonials.


If you’re looking for some hands-on experience to bolster your resume and be a more attractive candidate to a potential practice, consider volunteering in a dental health care setting. Volunteering gives you a chance to network with like-minded peers, take on increased leadership roles, and develop lifelong friends and professional relationships. 

Find a mentor

A mentor can offer you expert advice and guidance as you work toward your goal of becoming a practice owner or partner. A seasoned mentor has a unique and knowledgeable perspective about the dental industry. As you shadow, volunteer or work in a dental setting, you’ll most likely come across someone who has the potential to become your mentor. Express interest in their work and ask if they’d be willing to sit and chat with you over coffee. You can also find key opinion leaders at dental conferences and specialty trade shows.

Invest in technology

Dentistry offers a wide range of helpful technology, including CAD, software, lasers and other dental devices that make practitioners more efficient and outcomes more predictable. Many companies offer discounts to new grads, so ask around and invest in yourself the next time you’re at a dental conference. 

There’s really no better time to be a dental clinician than right now. You’re in a thriving profession where you can make a difference in people’s health, well-being and quality of life. You get to help your patients by diagnosing problems, relieving pain, preventing gum disease and, in some cases, boosting confidence through cosmetic restorations. Your next step is to build a strong foundation and believe in yourself. You got this!