Turning first-day jitters into practice success

2016 07 12 13 51 18 851 Watts Jason 200

My heart beats fast. My palms sweat. It's the first day of my new job.

I enter my office, flip on the fluorescent lights, and hear my name called. A new name I'm not use to yet -- Dr. Watts. Who's that? Amazed, I'm reminded that's me.

After my first morning huddle, I walk back to my office and notice even my computer welcomes me as "Dr. Watts." Chills race down my spine, and a blinding smile flashes across my face. The day I've been waiting for, for what felt like an eternity, is finally here.

My mind races.

Jason Watts, DMD. Image courtesy of MedPro Dental.Jason Watts, DMD. Image courtesy of MedPro Dental.

"I've spent eight years preparing for this day," I think to myself. "I've spent so much time shadowing dentists, following them through their eventful days. I can't wait to be busy. I'll probably have to turn patients away, because my schedule will be so full."

As I skim the schedule, my heart sinks. I only have three patients scheduled today. Three. I give myself a positive boost and remind myself that three is a start.

The first hour of the day passes slowly. I find myself scrolling through my email for the third time -- no new messages. Shortly into my second hour, I'm notified my first patient has checked in. My anticipation kicks into full swing; I feel like a little kid, I am so excited. I'm finally about to kick off my career as Dr. Watts.

I position myself next to the door, waiting for it to swing open, letting me know my patient is ready. Thirty minutes later, I'm still sitting in the same spot.

'Your patient is ready'

I check the appointment book. My patient is here -- why aren't they ready for me yet?

Another 30 minutes slowly ticks by and still nothing. I open the door and ask the office staff if the patient is ready for me? I'm informed the patient has been completing paperwork and now the assistant is taking x-rays. The past hour has been a millennium, and the clock feels like it has been standing still. Watching the clock tick by was not how I imagined my first day as a dentist.

Finally, the door opens.

"Dr. Watts, your patient is ready in room 8."

“When we become doctors, our patients and co-workers trust that we will address their concerns and fix their dental problems.”

I start thinking about every scary scenario that I have ever feared. What if I don't know the answer to a question? What if a routine filling that has become bombed out and needs a root canal or post, core, or crown?

I have to keep reminding myself, "You are prepared."

I look around for my security blanket from school, my professors. As I scan the room around me, I see my team of assistants and co-workers, who now look up to me -- Dr. Watts. No professors are here; it's up to me now.

My first day as "Dr. Watts" has come and gone. What I anticipated and prepared for through eight years of school has officially started.

Prepared and confident

It doesn't matter whether you're in school, waiting to start work, or going into work for yet another day -- when we become doctors, our patients and co-workers trust that we will address their concerns and fix their dental problems.

You might find yourself asking, "What gets me through each day?" I remember that I'm prepared -- which gives me confidence. I also know I'm providing my patients with the best, most ethical, and highest standard of care.

When your first day as a dentist comes around, remember to harness your anxiety and fears, turn those nerves into positive energy, and give it your best.

If you do that, I'm confident success will be waiting for you.

Jason Watts, DMD, is a new-to-practice dentist and a member of MedPro Group's Dental Specialty Advisory Board. This column first appeared on the blog of MedPro Dental, The Wisdom Tooth. DrBicuspid.com appreciates the opportunity to reprint in its entirety.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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