New Dental Graduates: How to Navigate COVID-19
For years, you have imagined your graduation day. Walking across the stage, securing a diploma, and having your first dental job were all things that you believed would signify the launch of your career in the dental industry. Unfortunately, 2020 graduates are facing a dilemma, unlike anything that they could have anticipated. From not having an actual graduation ceremony to hiring freezes across the nation, the idyllic picture of life as a new dentist has shifted.
Although the market is different than anyone could have imagined, there are still ways to find your purpose and strengthen your resume. It is important to be adaptable, creative, and persistent as you walk through the Covid-19 pandemic as you venture into the dental industry. Whether you are looking to become a dental assistant, dental hygienist, or dentist, there are a few steps you can take as you begin to navigate the next steps of your career.
Where to Begin:
If you graduated this year anticipating that you will be launching into the dental industry, you are in one of two categories. Due to the current environment, you may have been unable to secure a position upon graduation. On the other hand, you may have secured a job but have to adapt to unique limitations like training virtually or only working a limited number of hours. Although there may not be as many in-person, full-time opportunities on the horizon, there are a few places where you may be able to find a position in the meantime. Many dentists are scheduling consultations virtually. If you are willing to take a position that is temporary or flexible, you could assist clinics with their virtual services. Many dental offices are looking for dental assistants and hygienists to support their efforts as they take on a whole new safety protocol. Another opportunity to consider is practicing offering your dental services in a nonprofit setting. Many nonprofit organizations that practice dental work in low-income communities are seeking additional assistance. You could strengthen your reputation and your resume by giving back to your local community during this time of need.
If you have obtained a position but are working limited hours or facilitating virtual training sessions, keep pushing forward! This pandemic is unprecedented, and in due time your dental career will begin shaping into the one you imagined it would be.
Finding a Purpose:
When faced with a difficult situation, it is important to find your core motivation. What made you want to work in dentistry in the first place? Are you passionate about helping people? Are you interested in the science behind dentistry? Do you want to use your dental savvy to provide care for low-income communities? When you determine what your motivation is, it is easy to rediscover what brought you into the dental industry in the first place.
After determining your core motivation, try leaning into your purpose. If you are passionate about helping people, try to find a way to continue to use your skill to help people. There may be friends or family members that could use some dental tips since they aren’t able to receive their regular dental care. Another way to continue to help people amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is assisting clinics with their virtual consultations.
If you are interested in the science behind dentistry, use this unusual time to continue learning. You can develop in-depth knowledge about specific dental topics so that you can offer specialized care and advice to people when you return to the field. You can begin studying to obtain further certifications or awards that will enhance your opportunities in the future.
If you want to use your savvy to care for low-income communities, you could volunteer to help with emergency procedures at community-based clinics in poor neighborhoods. You could offer dental consultations to people for little to no charge. Another way to serve the community would be to create informational brochures and documents that help educate communities on simple ways to better their dental hygiene.
Continue to Strengthen Your Network:
In times of uncertainty, it is easy to become consumed with your own agenda. Instead of being concerned about your own future, take the time to be concerned with the lives of others. Reach out to people in your network and ask you can assist them. You can contact former professors, potential employers, and other graduates and touch base about how this pandemic is affecting their lives and careers. By caring for others in your network, you will have stronger relationships that will be able to assist you in the future when you are searching for a career.
This pandemic has affected dentistry around the world. Working in the dental industry, you know the importance of dental hygiene for communities around the world. Regardless of this current situation, you can use this season as a way to strengthen your resume and your relationships. You can continue to grow by investing in others, giving back to your community, being adaptable, and staying persistent.