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The Graduate Goes to Dental School

July 21, 2014

Filed under: Happiness,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Barry @ 1:22 PM



I want your help.

I am writing a new book for young dentists.  The book’s theme is creating a long , successful and rewarding life in dentistry.

For some this may be self-evident.  It depends on what stage of career you are in.

For others it is very difficult.  And you don’t have to be a dentist to appreciate the question I am about to ask.  The question actually raises more questions as to where we are today in terms of health care, the economy and our work.

I am biased on the side of long, healthy, happy careers—maybe what used to be called The American Dream.


So here is my premise:

I am producing a remake of the classic Dustin Hoffman film, The Graduate.  The scene at the pool where Mr. McGuire tells young Ben, “One word, plastics.”  It’s a classic line.

Now remember, the movie first came out in 1969…times were much different then…and in my movie Ben just graduated from dental school. (If you are a physician…make believe he’s graduating from medical school).

You don’t have to be a health professional to answer…it’s more about our culture.

Here’s where I need your help—

What one piece of advice would you give young Ben as he entered into the workforce, as a dentist in 2014.  By the way—dental school left him with $375,000 in debt.

Be brief—and one caveat —you can’t advise him to stay away from Mrs. Robinson.

Don’t go there!

Leave your comments below—if they are good I will include them in the book and give you credit.


  1. In one word: choices.
    Don’t let anyone fool you- you have the choice to either become a regulated tradesman or a professional. Becoming a regulated tradesman is simple, low risk, and carries all the rewards of a simple choice. Becoming a professional is tough. It takes education, commitment, patience, and courage. Its rewards are proportional to the risk you’re taking.

    Comment by Alan Stern — July 21, 2014 @ 1:45 PM

  2. Thanks Alan–the word I might use these days is “entrepreneurial.” There seems to be a movement today to develop this mindset that wasn’t there 40 years ago. This is great advice.

    Comment by Barry — July 21, 2014 @ 1:51 PM

  3. Nice try. I tell anyone when the subject comes up – pursue anything, but health care. Get into finance, Get an M.B.A., never consider a dental degree or medical degree. This is not the 1980s and before. Things are different now. Healthcare is not a good way to go. Leave it for the H1 visa types that will ultimately become more prevalent, because that is the plan by the powers that be.

    Comment by Roger — July 21, 2014 @ 2:09 PM

  4. Roger—that is what I am seeing. The post was more about our culture as you picked up. If you are right—what will become of health care in America—especially the elective services like dentistry and psychiatry? What will the average person do?

    Comment by Barry — July 21, 2014 @ 2:20 PM

  5. Have clarity of heart.
    Barry, I think for any young dentist going into any endeavour, and in these times especially, having a clear idea of where your heart is will guide you through. It will show in the care you show your patients and the attention and effort you put in your development. And without the heart being in the right place, then you’re going to not get past the many hurdles a young dentist has ahead.

    Comment by Daniel — July 21, 2014 @ 4:44 PM

  6. Great comment Daniel—you must care—there is no choice. The other forces in dentistry do not and can not have the level of care that a sole owner can have—my only issue is that because it’s difficult to establish yourself these days—the young dentists must keep caring through some difficult issues.
    Thank You for the comment.

    Comment by Barry — July 21, 2014 @ 5:13 PM

  7. I’d tell my future dentist son to read my damn book: http://www.blurb.ca/books/5150281-the-new-dentist-survival-manual-2014

    Comment by Yar Zuk — July 21, 2014 @ 9:23 PM

  8. I’m looking it over right now…has some damn good advice.

    Comment by Barry — July 21, 2014 @ 9:25 PM

  9. If I had to give one word, it would be “Know”. Know yourself and know your patient. I know it’s Simple Pankey philosophy but I think still holds true even in today’s health care setting. Know what you want and expect out of our profession and know what your patients want , expect and need from us as dental professionals.
    I believe it’s still possible to have a good, successful dental practice and enjoy what we do. There are still patients out there who appreciate and value our services despite the insurance companies influence on the health care culture. How many times have I seen patients leave my practice because “their insurance changed” only to return a year or two later because they weren’t happy with the service they received. They then learned to appreciate and value the service I provide making for an even better doctor-patient relationship. Our expectations from the profession have to be realistic yet self fulfilling.
    Young dentists need to know what to expect from the profession as we’ll as what they want to get out of it. If they’re hopes are to make millions of dollars per year and measure their success in that manner, then they should probably go int a different, more lucrative field. If they’re looking to make a reasonably good salary while working atbuilding relationships with people and helping them with their overall health then dentistry is a good field.
    I’m sure you could write a whole chapter if not book on that one word Barry!

    Comment by Scott ruvo — July 22, 2014 @ 7:26 AM

  10. Scott–Thank you for your thoughtful response. Yes, L.D. Pankey was quite a smart man and his philosophy holds up today—maybe even moreso these days. Everything starts, as you say, with knowledge. Knowing yourself is something I find still eludes most dentists. Know your patient seems to be an easier concept for most to grasp. The know yourself aspect requires introspection which many people are not willing to do. Many dentists understand that patients will come and go…and sometimes they don’t come back…we all have our war stories. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned yet—either on this blog or the Facebook group FFS…is the dentists having a sense of purpose. L.D> spoke to that as well — he took it from Napoleon Hill’s work. It’s a great starting point on the know yourself journey.
    You have me writing a chapter now—
    Thanks once again—your comment was very helpful.

    Comment by Barry — July 22, 2014 @ 8:07 AM

  11. Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and enjoy the ride.

    Listen for the heart…yours first, theirs most importantly.

    Comment by Bill — July 22, 2014 @ 9:03 AM

  12. Bill–Always great advice—I just said it slowly to myself–twice…it makes an impact,

    Comment by Barry — July 22, 2014 @ 9:05 AM

  13. You go to school and get a dental degree, you pass the board and get a license and you have hit your glass ceiling as a dentist. You are limited, that is all you can do, you are stuck in a profession with no way to get out, and nowadays, you’re debt would be something you can buy a very nice house with. It will take you ten years to pay off that debt and get back to zero, and there are no guarantees you will make a good living. It’s all on your back, a constant struggle for that next patient, and to keep patients, who, by the way, do not really care – they have choices, many choices. As a dentist, you have no choices. Start , or buy your own practice you are stuck in one place for decades and expenses are many. You will spend more time paying for other peoples’ stuff than making a good life for yourself. My advice to anyone thinking of choosing dentistry or any health care occupation: Do not do it! There are much better ways to make a living, and often a better living, with more benefits, more opportunities.

    Comment by Roger — July 22, 2014 @ 10:28 AM

  14. Roger–those aren’t very optimistic pieces of advice for young Ben. Well times have changed since the days of just opening a practice by putting out a shingle. Today’s dentist must be more entrepreneurial—what does that mean? He or she has to become a leader—a communicator–a motivator. The others, I agree, won’t survive in this culture. Someone will survive—it might as well be me—that’s the advice I might give Ben.

    Comment by Barry — July 22, 2014 @ 10:47 AM

  15. Great idea Barry! Hi Scott Ruvo (Dental school classmate and C1 partner at Pankey) Well said!

    To expand on Scott’s thought – “If you stand for nothing you will fall for anything” Know yourself – figure out what your values are. These will lead to your code of ethics. Your ethics will define how you act, how you practice, etc.

    Another word – Mentorship. Need I say anything more?

    Thanks Barry!!!!!

    Comment by Brett Kessler — July 22, 2014 @ 11:09 AM

  16. Wow– Brett and Scott–really getting to the heart of the issue. I hear so many people giving advice these days —that sound so much like “PLASTICS.” Dentists tell younger dentists—“Implants.” “Cosmetics” —Those things change. What never changes is the dentist—these are the lessons we learned—these are the lessons that need to be replicated.
    Thanks—Great stuff.

    Comment by Barry — July 22, 2014 @ 11:45 AM

  17. Barry, the exchange between you and Roger says something VERY important.

    When we applied to school, making a good living by simply hanging out your shingle was assumed to have been a slam dunk. I remember getting a congratulatory letter (you remember what letters are- those antiquated handwritten messages on paper) from a physician friend telling me that I’d be among the top 10% of earners in the country.

    Well, the rules changed in the middle of the game for us and yesterday’s guarantees are today’s sources of frustration and pain.. Incomes are down, solo ownership is threatened, and the cost of education has crossed the line of absurd.

    Between Roger’s lines is a lot of pain. I feel it. Many of us do. .

    The young students I mentor understand this very clearly. Kids who enter a dental school today need to have passion. Whether it’s passion to make a dollar, passion to help people get and stay well, or passion to be a master Doc, the drive to become a dentist needs to come from the core of one’s being. Without that passion, Roger’s prognostication will hold, making life no so great for the dentist and the people for whom they fix teeth.

    Comment by Alan Stern — July 22, 2014 @ 12:09 PM

  18. Alan–I too feel the pain in Roger’s comments. It’s real…what he feels is happening. That is why I created the Ben scenario. I’ll use an old cliche’ “when the going gets tough…” I know that’s not politically correct but in every field these days the operative words seem to be: Differentiate yourself, Brand yourself, The Start-Up of YOU, A Brand Called YOU, Selling YOU. Entrepreneurship is the battle cry for young people in all fields. The resistance is palpable and yet there is so much at stake…for individual dentists as well as the entire profession.
    This post has been up for two days and only now am I beginning to hear advice around ideas such as purpose and passion.
    The validity of Roger’s comments extend to the point that it is difficult to sustain any level of purpose and passion under the current circumstances. Dentistry as a profession will evolve—everything does…hopefully there are some in the profession that can help it evolve for THE GOOD OF ALL CONCERNED.
    Thanks for your thoughtful comments—this is a conversation that should be spread—because all points of view are valid…I don’t look at it through rose colored glasses as so many of my special interest colleagues see the profession.

    Comment by Barry — July 22, 2014 @ 12:22 PM

  19. I have experience, in many aspects of dentistry, and other areas. But I am also a realist. I do have a little pain and regret, but I am free now from dentistry’s grasp.
    There is a huge change going on and it will never be like it was in the 1980s and before, when all you had to do is hang up your shingle and work for a few years and you could be fairly assured of having a better than average income, with minimal headaches. It just is not like that anymore. I am keeping it real. The big picture is just not like the dental journals still portray it to be. From Public health dentistry to solo ownership, it is a whole different ball game than it was 2 or 3 decades ago or more. let’s not even discuss the new age of corporate dental holding companies where people who are not dentists and have no interest in dentistry get free, ready made workers who went and got their own dental licenses and who are being used to make the corporation a TON of money. if the dentist does not like it or gets out of line in any way, they are replaced! There is no professionalism there, there is no respect for the dentists. It’s all about making money off of dentists now in those places.
    Lots of dentists who have been in their practices all that time just do not know what it is like in the outside world. Although, their exit strategies have often been blown to bits, their plans to retire are useless, dentists have to work harder than ever before, and stay at it longer than ever before. Insurance companies have a huge influence on what is going on too, and people just can not make up for the reduced revenues by increasing volume. Patients are more knowlegeable, and have less and less discretionary income, they opt for the lesser of procedures, when they do obtain tx. Let’s just face it, there are much better was to make a living, and I believe that is what Barry is trying to determine with his quest here under the guise of writing a new book. To advise a young person to sacrifice an additional four years after obtaining the requirements to be accepted to dental school is just not right. There are much, much better ways to earn a living, and to be respected while doing so. Sorry to tell you guys who are old-timers and who have their private practices, dentistry just is not a good way to go as it may have been when you started. Just keeping it real here .

    Comment by Roger — July 22, 2014 @ 4:16 PM

  20. One piece of advise to a young dental school graduate: #1 Build strong relationships with your patients. #2 Find out what your patients REALLY want! #3 Help them to get it!

    Comment by David Schwanekamp DDS — July 22, 2014 @ 4:19 PM

  21. @Alan Stern: Have you seen the types of new grad dentists that are coming out these days? Have you ever worked with them> Very few, if an have a real passion for dentistry. Sad to say, very few have the skills , very few really understand the fundamentals of dentistry, and they therefore never get any better at it as time goes on. It’s shameful really, dental schools just pump out students every year. It’s just a business. The grads who do make it through are under tremendous pressure to produce for the corporations, and to try to pay off that huge debt. yes, very few new grad have passion for dentistry, very few really learned and understand the fundamentals of dentistry. Far too many are in it for the ego of being called doctor, and still hold to the notion they will get respect for being a doctor. And far too many have the dollar on their minds first and foremost. Go check it out for yourself. I’ve already seen it way too many times.

    Comment by Roger — July 22, 2014 @ 4:24 PM

  22. @ David Schwanekamo. Great advice “One piece of advise to a young dental school graduate: #1 Build strong relationships with your patients. #2 Find out what your patients REALLY want! #3 Help them to get it!.
    These three things can work magic in a dental career…the problem, as I see it, is that most dentists give lip service to #2 and 3. To be honest finding out what the patient REALLY wants and then developing a plan to bring that value, is very difficult…and probably makes #1 a whole lot easier. Because I coach dentists in these softer skills…I would tell Ben to really learn them and stay away from the dentists who say they do them but never took the time to develop the real skills.

    Comment by Barry — July 22, 2014 @ 6:50 PM

  23. @Roger #dentistrysgrasp…Roger, I will stay with keepi’ it real and not disagree with anything you said. I can find truth in just about everything. BUT (you saw that coming)…to quote a famous management guy…”how you see the problem is the problem.”
    What I see is exactly what Michael Gerber laid out in his classic book The E Myth. And he was speaking about all small business not just dentistry…but let’s remain myopic…and only consider our little industry. He said most small businessmen are either technicians or managers having an entrepreneurial seizure. That’s what I see. The vast majority of dentists take a myopic point of view about how dentistry should (love that word) be practiced. Most see it from the technicians point of view…others see it from the practice management point of view. When I meet a dentist…they want to tell me about a new technique or a new piece of technology…or they describe a system or script they use in practice…then they defend their view to the death. Remember the Wars of Centric Relation vs Neuromuscular? Or insurance free vs accepting.
    The problem as I see it is that although many read the E-Myth…most don’t apply it.
    That said…in 1969 it wasn’t that critical…today…there are too many forces (as you mentioned), to ignore the role of the dental entrepreneur.
    By the way…I am writing the book under no guise…I want to help young dentists to survive in a very tough environment…my enemies are insurance companies and DMOs…just like you.

    Comment by Barry — July 22, 2014 @ 7:09 PM

  24. Hi Barry, great post. My advice would be to get as goo as possible at steps 6-9


    that will be enough to do well as a dental associate in a practice that has its act together. But if you want your own dental practice understand there are 5 steps to do well even before you get to see the patient, and a very important step afterwards too.

    Comment by Aalok — July 22, 2014 @ 7:26 PM

  25. Interesting discussion Barry…. I can’t say I’m a newbie any more having been a dentist for 16 years… but I would say that my era of dentists started to come into the field as the decline began. I’ve never had a full schedule. I’ve always had to fight to stay busy. I had a warped view coming out of school that I would show up to work do a crown or two a few fillings and a few exams… I had not context to how it worked! I just figured someone would schedule my day and the patients would say yes to what I recommended…. that wasn’t my experience.. I don’t think passion for dentistry goes very far! Dentistry is hard. Physically and emotionally hard! But the desire to help solve problems is the reason I stick around and hopefully help people along the way. I think the only advice to give Ben is find a mentor or mentors you admire and pester them for info! It’s a hard job, but most other jobs that are worth doing are also hard. I’m a casual photographer, mainly a hobbyist… Want to find a tougher profession business wise than dentistry? Try being a professional photographer. Every Soccer Mom or Dad that picks up a camera turns into a senior portrait photographer.. At least dentistry has a barrier of entry.

    Comment by Doug Sandquist — July 22, 2014 @ 7:33 PM

  26. @Aalok…good advice. Thanks for the link to a wonderful infographic.

    Comment by Barry — July 22, 2014 @ 8:46 PM

  27. @Doug…I agree with the sentiment that passion in dentistry doesn’t go very far. I agree because I believe that passion is a by-product of mastery. As you say dentistry is hard…it’s hard to master. Possible but difficult…and when frustration kicks in…it’s hard to master. Mastering dentistry gets easier with a mentor. If Ben is reading this then the mentor advice is obvious…many have mentioned it. Early on, I didn’t take advantage of it…my son Josh has had great mentors since he began…his learning curve has been significantly reduced.
    Great insight as always Doug.

    Comment by Barry — July 22, 2014 @ 8:54 PM

  28. Lab technicians are much more supportive of one another than dentists will ever be Barry… Tell Ben to get an engineering degree, he will have so many more opportunities in life. Maybe he should join the armed forces after high school and make a career out of that, retire, get lifetime benefits, then start a second career with that inside info and side door entry that one gets from being in the club. Retire will great benefits after that second career and collect two pensions!

    Comment by Roger — July 22, 2014 @ 9:58 PM

  29. Roger…the problem for Ben is that he comes from a whole line of small businessmen. He chose dentistry because growing up he thought dentists had it made…they earned a good living, had flexible hours, and were their own boss. Being your own boss was very appealing…the American Dream. That’s what he wants…what is promised in the Declaration of Independence. Ben needs that kind of advice…or is the American a Dream dead?

    Comment by Barry — July 22, 2014 @ 10:10 PM

  30. I remember growing up hearing goto college pick a graduate school program and you’ll have a good pretty good life. There was a feeling that if you sacrificed (going into debt and time) that the payoff would be worth it… It almost felt like a guarantee that if you got a college degree you’d do better in life as an adult. This philosophy has all changed. I had a conversation the other day with a patient that has two daughters. Both daughters got college degrees in fields that skilled.. their comment to their Mom was you always said that if we got a college education we’d have a better change at a job/career. Neither one can find a job that corresponds with their education. A post graduate education doesn’t guarantee success… 30 years ago, a post graduate education meant something. Today that American dream you talk about doesn’t require a formal education. The notion that it doesn’t require a formal education is baffling to most that have a formal education! It’s still helpful to have one, but there are lots of examples of where it doesn’t matter.

    Comment by Doug Sandquist — July 22, 2014 @ 10:42 PM

  31. @Doug…exactly, and this is what makes it so difficult for young people. It’s worse in law. In dentistry the world can still be your oyster but only if the young dentist takes his or her career to a higher level. The Ben’s can still make it but the competition is steep…all the while the commoditization of dentistry will continue to make differentiating between dentists more difficult.

    Comment by Barry — July 22, 2014 @ 10:48 PM

  32. @Barry, the young Ben has to figure out all the skills that all his friends are learning in their non-education required careers. Here’s an example… my brother in law went to college got a degree… moved to San Francisco and got a job in sales… he sells networked back up storage. He lives in a different world than I do… When we talk he has no concept of what it takes to be a dentist today! He does well, works from home most days and gets to travel for work, and has far fewer things to worry about(or so it seems)… I have to do all the things he does, plus employ people and provide care… But we all know the grass is never as green as it appears…. The grass can be green in dentistry, its just that to a young dentist there are quite a few careers with greener grass….

    Comment by Doug Sandquist — July 22, 2014 @ 11:17 PM

  33. Regardless of the degree- law, medicine, dentistry—it’s the entrepreneurial mindset that creates the lifestyle. I am not suggesting we all go after Tim Ferris’s 4 hour work week—but the mindset is a direction that leads to a better place.

    Comment by Barry — July 23, 2014 @ 9:22 AM

  34. Hi Barry, I noticed you were talking more about the entrepreneurial skills needed in dentistry today. I talk about my experience – specifically what I did then, and what I would do now here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikDQG5FCn10 may be some value for a new dentist. Best wishes and great blog post.

    Comment by Aalok — July 23, 2014 @ 5:33 AM

  35. I started to watch your YouTube—I will finish it later –but I wanted to comment and tell everyone what a good speaker you are—you have it. Nice work Aalok.

    Comment by Barry — July 23, 2014 @ 9:25 AM

  36. Goug Sandquist appears to have a good understanding of how it is, based on his most recent comments. As for the American Dream being dead? It may not be dead, it;s not yet buried, but it certainly is crippled and being kicked around while it is down. As for mentorss for a young dentist? Ha, ha , ha! Good luck with that! I have no idea how trhat concept was started. Sure, it’s possible, but not likely by and large. You should know, dentists will not give other dentists thetime of day, even if you seethe watch on their writs. It’s more like become an associate and get used, abused and stolen from while you hope to get some experience. All you really do is add to tthe numbers who have been through the revolving door. Let’s keep it real, or maybe you just do not want to admit certain aspects of the world of dentistry that are so obvious? Ben, get a degree in engineering, or join the Navy or Air Force. Being a dentist is a constant run to nowhere on a treadmill that keeps going faster as time goes by. Sure, it is conceivable that you can find a place where you will do well enough, but not likely. Want to be a dentist despite all that? Get a job in Small Smiles or Aspen Dental or some other corporate chain. Ha ha ha! Listen to the old timers who have been isolated as a dentist for 30 plus years and you will be sorry. It’s not such a wonderful profession to get in. You will get no respect from your staff or other dentists, nor the people whom are known as patients. This is not 1980 anymore buddy.

    Comment by Roger — July 23, 2014 @ 9:04 AM

  37. Roger– I must tell you – you are starting to sound like The Riddler in Batman. Your cynicism is getting overdone—mentors are everywhere—people love to help others climb the mountain—seek one out.

    Comment by Barry — July 23, 2014 @ 9:19 AM

  38. Barry- keep those personal comments such as about the Riddler in Batman to yourself, okay? I have much different experiences than you. And I have found in the early days, there were no mentors. I’m waaay past needing a mentor. Get out and work outside your own practice, you’ll see how it really is. So if you want to apologize about that Riddler comment, I’ll be waiting.
    After that, I want to get of this “discussion:. It goes nowhere, like all the other threads amongst dentists. You asked for feedback for your book. I’m sorry I gave it to you now.

    Comment by Roger — July 23, 2014 @ 9:46 AM

  39. Okay Roger–sorry about the Batman comment—I do appreciate your point of view—I think it needs to be addressed—I also get that your POV comes from your own experiences. The purpose of the post was to open a discussion for giving young dentists—hope for the future.

    Comment by Barry — July 23, 2014 @ 10:29 AM

  40. I see the cynicism that Roger writes of in all fields. Medicine, Professional Photography, Dentistry, any field really. My wife is an Internist, her father is also an Internist that practiced in the golden age of Medicine before the HMO/PPO’s reared their ugly head. Her Father tried to talk her out of going into Medicine, basically sharing Roger’s cynicism of the profession. My wife has found her place in the cog of medicine and I asked her last night if she would do it all over again knowing what she knows now, she said Yes! She makes pennies and would have to work a lot more and harder if she was the sole income in our family, but she would do it all over in the face of more changes to her profession. I’m also an amateur photographer and take photography courses… A common thread amongst the Professional Photography world is the same cynicism… “The golden age is over” “I just can’t get the jobs I used to..” “Lost a job to a Soccer Mom” Its a big deal in that field, a Mom (or Dad) has children, buys a camera, takes pictures of her kids, other Moms see her photos, bring their kids over and before the Mom knows it she’s selling prints and is now a professional photographer. Its refreshing to see the Pros that have broken out of the poor me mindset and punched through the cynicism and are succeeding! I know of Professional Wedding photographers that barely charge $1500/wedding and I know one that charges a minimum of $15,000/wedding and up! I don’t think the American Dream is dead but the definition of the American Dream has changed and how to achieve it has definitely changed. Young Dentists needs to look outside of the profession for mentors that are succeeding against all the odds, if they can’t find any in dentistry. We all need multiple mentors from varying fields.

    Comment by Doug Sandquist — July 23, 2014 @ 9:57 AM

  41. Well said @Doug…totally agree–The American Dream is not dead–just a bit harder to attain through all of the complexity.

    Comment by Barry — July 23, 2014 @ 10:32 AM

  42. Roger, I will never know your experience, your experience is your experience… but I’ve had many of the same feelings you express. Dentistry’s golden days are over, corporate dentistry will take all of us over. Insurance companies will turn us into puppets for them… For many this is a true reality. But I also believe that there is room for others to do their own thing. Just because the world has changed doesn’t mean its all bad. The up side is that consumers still want to value and to be valued. When I goto to meetings I’ve met dentists from other parts of the world with much harder conditions for dentistry than we enjoy here and they are making it and enjoying their careers. Just when I start to feel that dentistry is dead I start looking around and finding people that are disrupting other industries and doing well on their own terms. yes it’s not 1980 anymore, but in 1980 somebody couldn’t have made a career at Artisanal Pencil Sharpening… http://www.artisanalpencilsharpening.com/

    Comment by Doug Sandquist — July 23, 2014 @ 12:09 PM

  43. So Doug you are an optimist — glass half full or half empty? For me is a very Stoic way of looking at the world—the world is as it is—I put the meaning on it—positive or negative. Shakespeare said it best—“nothing is good or bad, only our thinking makes it so.”

    Comment by Barry — July 23, 2014 @ 12:56 PM

  44. @ Doug S.: I’m not saying it is all bad, just saying it certainly is not even close to being hunky dory like we read about in journals and dental related threads. I’ve seen those threads evolve too in to more realistic comments being made about how things in “the profession” are not so good. It’s a reality, things just are not so good. Sure, people can make it, there are niches, etcetera, but the big picture shows that healthcare, including dentistry has drastically changed. providers are struggling, they have to work harder , revenues are down, patient attitudes have changed.
    And I’m not cynical, just experienced, and a realist. And, I do not have my whole life invested so deeply in dentistry that I can not walk away from it. I’m just telling it like it is, sir. I’ve been around the block, many many times…I do not jump to conclusions. What I write about are the aspects that many people may know of, but refuse to admit to. Go dig deeper, ask around. You quit your practice and try to get a position as an employed dentist. Despite many years of experience you may have, see how far you’ll get…
    As for starting a practice from scratch, or buying a practice when a grad had nearly a quarter million in debt from student loans, I’d say, that’s not a wise move.becoming a stall shoveler for a corporate dental entity is not a good way to go either. And if you graduated with a true understanding of dentistry and actually do have some skills, sad to say, you are at a distinct disadvantage. I could tell you stuff you will never know about…

    Comment by Roger — July 23, 2014 @ 2:22 PM

  45. I beg to differ on that Shakespere quote BArry. Putting one’s hand on the red hot burner of a stove is a bad thing. No amount of positive thinking will ever change that. That’s just one example. I guess a more apt quote to live by for being somewhat content and unaffected would be: “No brain, no pain.” and that goes for the psychic kind, anguish, frustration, maybe disillusionment,,, you know.

    Comment by Roger — July 23, 2014 @ 2:25 PM

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    Comment by Ashley — July 24, 2014 @ 10:29 AM

  47. Thank You Ashley—TAOofDentistry.com is a labor of love—thanks for the positive feedback.

    Comment by Barry — July 24, 2014 @ 10:40 AM

  48. Like everybody else I have patients from various backgrounds and professions. A few of them have told me that they are considering another degree, this time in Psychology in order to better understand their clients. These patients of mine have realized that. What concerns me is that we’re in the health care business. We depend on our patients to help them through our beautiful profession. Well that’s the main reason I became a dentist 15 years ago. I chose dentistry. I wanted to help people. For doing so I need to understand them first. I need to relate to them. I have no training on that. My dental school didn’t prepare me for that. I know how to help them. Sometimes I just can’t. My patients have realized the importance of developing the soft skills. Are we really prepared to help our patients?

    Comment by Frederico — July 26, 2014 @ 11:56 AM

  49. Ahh Fred…this is exactly what I like to hear. A basic timeless piece of advice…works in 1969 as well as 2014. Timeless and ageless. There is nothing wrong with dentistry. It’s a form of work…where we go to get our self – respect and earn our daily bread. Thanks for your input…this goes in my book.

    Comment by Barry — July 26, 2014 @ 12:01 PM

  50. Seems Barry just takes what matches his b=views and disregards the rest… And by the way, what the heck are “soft skills”? Who the heck started that term? Geez. How about getting out and really getting a comprehensive view for your book, one that covers how it really is out there in 2014? Oh, maybe I will write the insiders view antithesis book of yours, for those without the rose colored glasses? Hmmmm, maybe.

    Comment by Roger — July 26, 2014 @ 3:00 PM

  51. Go ahead and write Roger…it may prove more difficult than running a dental practice.

    Comment by Barry — July 26, 2014 @ 3:10 PM

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