Congratulations, you’re embarking on the next chapter of your journey as a practising dentist! Transitioning from dental school to launching your career as a dentist can be both rewarding and challenging. Now that you’re about to earn your own income, it’s a good time to start thinking ahead to take stock of your goals. Along with completing your Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) and obtaining a license from the Dental Regulatory Authority of the province in which you wish to practice,1 it’s important to get your finances in order. 

Here are four smart steps to help get your career off to a great start:

  1. Pay down debt
    If you’re like most dental students, chances are you had to borrow to finance your education and may now be carrying a substantial debt load. Reducing this debt is one of the most important first steps to take once you start earning income.

    “You need to get in a budgeting mindset right away,” says Rose Tornabene, Manager, Partnerships & Programs, Healthcare & Professional Banking, Early Career at Scotiabank. “You don’t want to run out of money and not be able to cover the cost of your final licensing exams and fees.2 In a few years, you may also want to open your own practice and it’s important to pay down your education debt as much as possible before you take on any additional required debt to go off on your own.”

    In the case of a Scotia Professional® Student Plan Line of Credit, you can take advantage of the fact that no payments are required for up to two years after you graduate. This will provide you with a window of time during which you can pay off other outstanding debts. Consider meeting with a Scotiabank Healthcare & Professional Advisor for a review of your overall level and type of debt and to get advice on how best to manage it. It is also an opportunity to discuss your future goals and start to plan for them. 

  2. Get expert advice
    It’s important when first starting your career to get expert advice from trusted professionals who have expertise in the dental sector.

    “I always tell my clients it’s important to make sure you have a team that’s there to help you that understands the dental business,” says Rod McFadden, Healthcare & Professional Advisor with Scotiabank. “We can provide new dental grads with the option of connecting with many trusted partners, including accountants, lawyers and other industry professionals who understand the dental sector and will be able to guide them now and into the future.” A lawyer can help you review and construct contracts and an accountant can ensure you structure you accounts and borrow in a tax-efficient manner. A Healthcare & Professional Advisor can provide you with financial advice early on and ensure that you have the right solutions in place today to help you be financially well prepared for the future.

    Connecting with these professionals from the outset, can help you create an overall financial plan to both meet your goals and avoid potential pitfalls along the way.

  3. Find a mentor
    While the skills you acquired at dental school will have prepared you to excel at your chosen profession, most new grads find they still have a lot to learn in terms of running a successful practice. Along with the hands-on experience you can get working as a dental associate, there can be advantages in finding an tenured dentist who can be your mentor.

    A mentor who has stood in your place before and understands what you’re going through as a new practitioner can do more than just help you perfect your skills. They can also guide you how to better communicate with patients, offer practice management insights, handle stressful situations and offer career advice as they share what they learned along the way.

    To find a mentor, set up meetings with successful dentists in your community. Contact your provincial or local dental association for a list of dentists in your region who are willing to act as mentors.3 Some universities even have programs where they will help pair you with a dentist for a period time with special programs.  

  4. Network to expand career opportunities
    As a new dentist, you’re probably not thinking much about what your colleagues are doing at other practices. But once you catch your breath, consider building relationships with others in your field. You can expand your circle by networking through social media and attending conferences for dentists both in Canada and abroad. This will help you stay up to date on the latest trends, practices and technology in your field.

    Studies also show that most jobs are filled through networking.It can also help you form connections with others you may someday want to partner with. Plus, it can give you firsthand insights into diverse professional opportunities that can help shape your career path.

  5. Consider additional training
    Dental treatments and technology are constantly evolving. To keep pace with changes in your field and stay aware of the latest techniques, it’s a good idea to stay in touch with your dental school. You can also join professional associations and sign up for courses offered by leaders in your field.

    You may also want to return to dental school to specialize. As it can take an additional two to six years after you graduate to complete a dental specialty in Canada,5 the sooner you start planning for this the better. “It’s one of the key reasons I always advise new grads to start paying down their debt as soon as possible,” says McFadden. “Planning ahead can help ensure the required funds are available when they’re needed.”

For customized advice and solutions to help you launch a successful dental career and support you with ongoing financial expertise, contact us today.