Life after dentistry: How to get started
If you are seriously thinking about making the move out of dentistry, don’t miss this next post. In the past I’ve shared some tips about how to break free emotionally, and today Rick from Rick’s Rome is back to share some great practical tips about how to get the process started. I know many of you loved reading his inspirational journey to find happiness, so here’s part 2 of his guest post on life after dentistry!
What about some practical advice for people looking to change? Well, every situation is different but there are a few things that you can do proactively to prepare for a life after dentistry.
First, you should inventory your finances. Even if you’re very good with this sort of thing, I would suggest the counsel of a professional who has not only experience, but also a detached objectivity. Be as brutally honest with him or her as possible…and with yourself. You will have to make some sacrifices. The good news is, many of these so-called “sacrifices” will actually make you feel less burdened. I have found that a simpler life is a happier life.
Related to this, evaluate any equity that you have in your practice and again, consult a professional to help you figure out an exit strategy. If there is a sale involved, this person will earn a commission. However, a detailed consultation should be free of charge.
Buy tail coverage for your malpractice insurance. It’s not terribly expensive and it’s worth the peace of mind.
Start acquiring other skills related to the life you want to have after dentistry. This might involve taking some classes or at least gathering information. The path to a career in dentistry is pretty straight forward, but not so for most other careers these days. Know what you’re getting into. In the rush to simply “make a change,” you could easily convince yourself of a bad idea. You don’t want to go from one job that you hate into something else that you like even less…only without the big paycheck.
Along these lines, one idea is to start a blog like Lolabees and I have. It doesn’t matter what your next career move will be, the odds are you’re going to need to do a fair amount of self-promoting, and these days one of the best ways to do so is with an online presence. Buy a domain name containing your first and last name, if it’s available. Then start writing and posting once a week or so…it doesn’t really matter what you write about at first, as long as it’s something that you’re passionate about. Then as you start to find your way towards a new career, your blog can become more focused. In many ways, it will become your business card, portfolio, and C.V. for the world to see.
Warning: you will have many detractors along the way who will give you unsolicited opinions as to why you shouldn’t do it. Not surprisingly, most of them will be other dentists (they’re just jealous). But if you’ve been following this blog with great interest, then it’s safe to say that your mind is already made up. Don’t let the haters deter you. Listen to the voice inside you—it knows what’s best.
Wow, I could go on and on with this, but I’ll stop here and leave you with one last thought. If you’re unhappy with your job, start taking steps to make a change NOW. Of course, you probably can’t just walk away tomorrow…nor should you. You’ll want to do it right and that takes a little time to plan. But the good news is that once you start the process, you’ll immediately feel better. Make a checklist and start working your way through it. Keep your eye on the prize (happiness, in case dentistry has caused you to forget that). I’m sure you worked very hard to make it through dental school. Apply the same amount of effort to finding your happiness. It’s out there, but you have to go get—it won’t come to you!
Rick Zullo is an American writer, teacher, and relentless Italophile. He was born in Chicago, raised in Florida, but always dreamt of Italy. After a 17-year career in dentistry, he left the United States to live in Rome where he met his wife. He is now writing a series of eBooks, as well as a blog (rickzullo.com) which strives to decipher Italian culture for the English-speaking world. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.