If you had told me when I graduated college in 2001 that I’d become a dentist, I would have told you to get your head checked. My undergraduate degree was in Psychology with plans to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and become a therapist. I loved my undergraduate studies, however, part way through the masters degree program I felt like I needed to get my own therapist! I was going crazy!
So I left the program and for 3 years bounced from one dead end job to the next, until a close friend suggested I look into dentistry. So, I shadowed a local dentist asking every question I could. Unfortunately, I had not taken any of the prerequisites for dental school. This meant going back to college for 3 more years taking all the really fun classes like physics, organic chemistry, biology etc. At this point, I was married with one child and a second on the way. Go back to college for 3 more years, then dental school for 4 years? I figured time is going to pass either way, what else could I do to meet my goals in life? I hadn’t found anything yet, so I took the plunge.
I worked 40 hours a week and enrolled in classes full time. In 2007 I started at Indiana University School of Dentistry completely debt free. In 2011 I graduated at age 35, still married (this is a good thing) now with 3 children and just over $400,000 in student loan debt! I felt tremendous pressure to start earning a paycheck ASAP. I was older, already had a family and enough debt to have bought my own private island.
I wasn’t looking for a “JOB,” I was looking to build a career. I was offered a partnership in a small group practice. It defined my dream career: ownership, mentoring, busy practice, great partners. Only one problem, it was located on what felt like the outer rings of Saturn, small town Ohio. The setting wasn’t right for my family so I turned it down. Another contact led me to Utah,, right across the parking lot from Dr. Gordon Christensen’s research facility. Though not connected to Dr. Christensen, I thought, how awesome to be so close to such an icon in modern dentistry! There were many applicants, but I came in second to a Provo native. I was crushed and frustrated. Every option I was exploring simply wasn’t working out.
Then, I learned about an opportunity that offered a true ownership opportunity from day one In July 2011 I bought a partnership in Denver with Comfort Dental. Five years later I have 2 great partners, I’m paying down debt 5 times faster than my cohorts and confidently practice all aspects of general dentistry including placing my own implants. My wife and I now have 4 children with one more on the way, and we love living in Denver!
My advice, know what you want, really learn all your options and at least give Comfort Dental a look. When you do, swing by and say hello, my office is 15 minutes away from the Comfort Dental Partnership Development Center.
Adam Clarke, DDS