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"What's your long term plan?" It’s been less than a year since I’ve graduated, and both my practices have asked me this question. And while I would love to ...
January 20, 2017

“What’s your long term plan?” It’s been less than a year since I’ve graduated, and both my practices have asked me this question. And while I would love to have an answer to this question, like most new dentists, I’m doing my best to not drown amidst the new challenges I face daily. However, having some sort of game plan is essential, at least in my opinion. So when reflecting on this topic I wonder what “long term plans” look like for a new graduate.

To answer this and the many other questions about what I want to do with my future, I look to my mentors and my colleagues. As a general dentist, my opportunities are endless, but the most frequently traveled path seems to be that on eventually buying your own practice somewhere down the line. I’ve considered this path, and up until about 2 months ago, buying a practice was in my 10-year plan. That was until two of my closest friends who graduated a year before I just bought their own practices. It was then I realized that the opportunities are not only endless but are also timeless.

If going solo isn’t your thing, I’ve also been approached about partnering in on a buying practice. A bit less daunting of a venture knowing that you’re not going at it alone, but still some major hesitations. What if you end up hating your partner? Or you disagree on major issues? Partnering is not for the commitment-averse, like me, which led me to another thought. What kind of commitment are you making when you buy your own practice or partner in a practice? Jumping ship midway through your career seems like suicide. Which makes buying a practice even scarier.

Maybe I’ll just be an associate for the rest of my career. Or maybe I’ll go back to school and specialize. Maybe I’ll teach. Or maybe I’ll just invent some new great dental products and not have to practice anymore. The point is, I don’t know what my long term plan is. I have a few ideas, but I’ve accepted the fact that it’s ok to not have an answer to this question at this point in my career. Eventually, I probably should have an answer, and the sooner the better. But for now, I’m going to plea the “naive young dentist”.

If you’re in the same boat, please share your thoughts or long term plans. I would love to know if I’m the only new dentist who thinks about these things.

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