When Dreams Turn to Nightmares
My new dream job mostly turned out to be a big nightmare. The possibilities of a new future were there, of course, along with all of the standard challenges you would expect from starting any new job. Change is hard. It’s scary. It’s uncomfortable. It makes you feel vulnerable and insecure. To get by, I just continued living in the future instead of the present; thinking if I pushed through the hard times, it would eventually be right. I was coming up on my 5th year in practice, and I was sure that at year 5 it would all become clear. I would have solved all of the challenges and mysteries of practice by then. Dentistry would become a little easier.
It never did.
I was shocked to learn that things weren’t what they seemed at this new practice. I must be a blockhead because I bought into all of the phony rhetoric I was being fed for far too long. Even though I never quite felt at home, it took me 2 years to see what was really going on. Eventually I developed a new appreciation for the well-oiled, yet dysfunctional, machine of an office that I had left. I thought all dental offices were filled to the rim with patients willing to pay you for the dental work that they need.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
As with most challenges, a lot of good did come out of it though. I realized what I wanted out of my career, discovered a true interest in what I was doing, and made a good friend along the way. I also made an interesting shift. I actually wanted patients to come see me. I wanted to be busy, and I wanted to do dentistry. We had the best equipment and used the best materials, so I felt good about what I was doing for patients.
But it was S-L-O-W.
There were days when I only had 1 patient in my schedule– quite a change from the 30-40 I was used to seeing. Days when my only patient canceled, I would end up crying in the bathroom, unable to handle the thought of being stuck in the office another day for 8 hours with nothing to do and not a dime to show for it. The bottom line was this office wasn’t ready for an associate. There just wasn’t enough to go around. And all dentist associates know that when there’s not enough to go around, it all goes to the boss. They can tell you that’s not how it works, but if they do, they’re lying.
I went from wanting to NOT work because there was too much of it (you know, hoping for a cancellation or that the power would go out for the afternoon,) to wanting to actually do what I was trained to do. This was a step in the right direction, at least. When I left the first office, I often said, “you can’t pay me enough money to continue living like this.” Be careful what you wish for because that’s exactly what I traded. Those first few years I made a really good income, but the misery that came with it was not worth it to me. Sadly, my income actually peaked my 3rd and 4th years in practice. When I switched to my dream job, I started making 1/5 of my income. (Was it too much to ask to reach a happy medium?) I wasn’t driven by the prospect of making lots of money, and I also needed to feel fulfilled mentally and emotionally. Now, both the money and the fulfillment were missing. I was still waiting, living in denial, for that day to come.
So while the dream job turned out to be just as dysfunctional as the dysfunctional job, I knew I had to start searching again. By this time I had enough experience and insight that I knew what I wanted though. The great people at Hankey Pankey actually introduced me to my final practice. I was certain this was now going to be my dream job. If it wasn’t, then I was done. No more. If these people couldn’t help me become what I wanted to become, then I give up. You know the final outcome. I’ll get to that soon.