New Graduate Tips

Starting Out Strong

For new dental school graduates, this is an exciting time of year. Whether you plan to open your own office or become an associate doctor, soon you will put all the skills and knowledge you have learned into action. Are you ready to make the transition from student to dentist? What can you expect starting out in today’s industry? Are there specific areas you should be focusing on?

Dr. Jade DeSmidt
Jade DeSmidt, DDS
practicing dentist at Valley Park Dental Ccare in Valley Park, Missouri

Being a young dentist myself and practicing in a new office, there are a few specific areas I have focused on that have helped me advance both my clinical and practice management skills:

Endodontics and Extractions

For dentists starting out, becoming comfortable with both of these procedures can go a long way. Performing root canals effectively and efficiently plays a big role in doing what’s best for patients. If a patient is in pain or is in need of emergency endodontic care, they want relief now, not in a few days or next week. If you don’t have the ability to help them, they will find someone else who can. But if you build up your skills and are able to accommodate their needs, you are doing what’s best for them, yourself and your office. The same can be said regarding extractions. Patients in need want help now. If you’re not an experienced endodontist or oral surgeon, some complicated cases may require you to refer out. But if you continually advance your knowledge, you can help more and more patients receive the care they need. Not only will you improve the oral health of your community, you will also build up your patient base faster. If opening a new office, this is invaluable.

Being supported by Heartland Dental, I had access to continuing education in both these subjects early on. Both were featured topics in the Dr. Leadership series I completed. There are many additional educational opportunities in these subjects out there with publications, videos and in-person and online courses.


Besides clinical knowledge, becoming an effective communicator with both patients and team members is important. In dental school, this might not have been emphasized. But for myself, this has made a huge difference in transitioning from my dental school setting. When effectively communicating with patients, you will instill trust in them, build relationships with them and create patients for life. When effectively communicating with your team, you will instill trust in them as well. You will create an environment built upon confidence and teamwork.


There is a stark contrast between seeing one patient for an entire morning and seeing your own full schedule plus that of two hygienists. Creating and maintaining an efficient workflow right away is essential. As your schedule grows, you must learn to prioritize your time and properly utilize your dental assistants. This goes back to effective communication. Huddle with your team in the morning, make your expectations clearly known and ensure everyone is on the same page. This will help you streamline your schedule to help more and more patients each day.

Starting out in today’s industry is challenging, but you have many opportunities to positively impact the lives of your patients. You also have many opportunities to advance yourself personally and professionally. Take advantage of continuing education, both in clinical topics as well as leadership and communication. In this ever-changing industry, there is always more to learn.