Transitioning from dental school to professional practice is a significant step that involves several key adjustments. Here’s a structured guide to help you navigate this transition smoothly:

  1. Licensing and Credentialing

Before you can begin practicing, you must obtain your dental license. This process varies by region but generally involves passing a national and/or regional board examination. Ensure you understand the specific requirements in the area where you wish to practice. Additionally, consider obtaining malpractice insurance and becoming credentialed with various insurance providers if you plan to accept health insurance.

  1. Securing Your First Job

Finding your first job can be challenging but is crucial for gaining practical experience. Explore various employment options such as associating with an established dental practice, working in a hospital, or public health dentistry. Networking with alumni, attending job fairs, and utilizing dental association job boards can enhance your job search. Prepare a strong resume and practice your interview skills to make a good impression.

  1. Mentorship and Continuing Education

As a new dentist, guidance from experienced professionals can be invaluable. Seek mentorship opportunities through professional associations, or consider working in a practice where senior dentists offer mentorship. Continuing education is also crucial, as it not only fulfills licensure requirements but also keeps you updated with the latest advancements in dental techniques and technology.

  1. Financial Management

Transitioning to practice also means managing your finances effectively, especially if you are dealing with student debt. It may be wise to consult with a financial advisor who specializes in healthcare professionals. They can provide guidance on debt management, savings, insurance, and investment strategies tailored to your professional trajectory.

  1. Building Patient Relationships

Establishing trust and a good rapport with your patients is foundational to your practice. Work on your communication skills, ensuring you can explain treatments and procedures clearly and empathetically. Patient management software can help you keep track of patient records and appointments efficiently, enhancing the patient experience.

  1. Professionalism and Ethics

Maintain high standards of professionalism and ethics in your practice. This includes staying compliant with healthcare laws and regulations, maintaining patient confidentiality, and continuing to practice evidence-based dentistry. Joining professional organizations can help you stay informed about ethical practices and standards in dentistry.

  1. Work-Life Balance

Finally, it’s important to maintain a balance between your professional and personal life. The demands of starting a new practice or job can be overwhelming, so it’s crucial to manage your time effectively and ensure you have time for rest and personal activities.


By focusing on these areas, you can smooth the transition from dental school to professional practice, setting a strong foundation for a successful and fulfilling career in dentistry.



Jason Drewelow is CEO of Primus Companies. His book, Making the Right Impression, is a how-to guide for dentists considering an office project. Primus has completed over 1,100 projects to-date, and over the past 20 years, Jason has worked with both solo practitioners and group practices on all facets of real estate, including strategic planning, development, acquisitions, and negotiations.

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