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Securing Your First Job as a Dentist

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Securing Your First Job as a Dentist

Rachel Pino is a recent dental graduate in Australia. In this article she offers her words of wisdom and encouragement in seeking that first employed role as a young dentist.

The transition from dental school to the job market can be both a stressful and exciting period, with some people finding it easier than others to secure their first job. After a lengthy four to five years at university, most likely the time has come for dental students to wave goodbye to scraping together pennies for lunch money. The prospect of a pay cheque for performing routine fillings and extractions which have been practised for years at university, is almost a reason to cry!

As a student approaching the end of your university studies, no doubt you are beginning to think about seeking work. Some students will opt to take a well-deserved break and spend some time travelling. While others may plunge into full or part-time work in the public or private sector. Working as a dentist seeing many patients a day is a significant transition from university, and takes some time getting used to. However, the first bridge to cross is actually securing a job!

Reflecting on my personal experience in seeking my graduate position almost seems like a blur. Final year is not easy by any means, with impeding final examinations, case reports, outplacements and clinical quotas to reach. Add a job search into the equation and it's nearly enough to send any ambitious student into overdrive. In my downtime from study, I compiled a resume that was specific to my tertiary study and outlined all my clinical skills, qualifications and interests to date. I approached the clinical tutors and academic staff who had the most exposure to my dental work to ask if they would be kind enough to be my professional referees. Lastly, I drafted a cover letter that outlined my career aspirations, ambitions and qualifications. It was a long haul, but come December 2011, I was nearly ready to shortlist my preferential dental clinics and send out my applications for work.

During the final week of study and exams I attended interviews and followed up phone calls from practice managers who were eager to learn more about me. My final interview was scheduled one hour after my final examination. I made the interview with two minutes to spare, while my classmates were well into celebrations. I accepted the job offer at that clinic and commenced full-time work two days after my graduation ceremony.

Is there a right or wrong way to approach job seeking? Definitely not. In my experience I would advise setting a plan during the middle of final year and setting goals month by month. If you are looking for a supportive environment with mentoring, consider working publically for a year or two to gain confidence and advice from those more experienced. If you have an interest in cosmetic based treatment, try working at a private clinic that provides those types of services.

Whether it takes a little longer than expected, you will find a first job that provides opportunity, experience and income. If you've made it this far through dental school, you will be well aware that indeed it will all work out in the end!

Rachel Pino


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