The moment I saw the metal sign ‘Dr S.Kaddour’ being drilled onto my surgery door I felt a small lump develop in my throat.
Starting my newly qualified position in London filled me with excitement, fear and uncertainty.
I was soon to discover that the period of time between graduation and the first day of work does not suddenly turn us into dentists with all the answers.
Like any new experience there are challenges and low moments. Speaking to several colleagues we all express the same concerns. ‘I am too slow’, ‘I hate molar endodontics’, ‘I am going to be sued!’ We all were (and still) are scared and doubtful at times. But only in practice do you have the continuity of care with your patients allowing you to really get to know and care for them. If you do find yourself in a somewhat ‘sticky’ situation, stop, breathe and get help. We all need help during our careers.
Make life enjoyable and try your best to make time for relaxation. It can be difficult to switch your mind off at 5pm and not take work home. I found this one of the biggest challenges, but doing activities outside work is vital for your sanity!
A bit of organisation during your day will help reduce stress. My colleague taught me to plan my own schedule and dictate appointment times. Running late is a sure way to ruin your day. Booking long enough appointments (and I do still take over an hour for root canal treatment!) will not force you to cut corners or stress thinking about patients waiting in reception. Speed does not equate to being a good dentist. Connecting and listening to your patients will be of vast importance as young dentists do not have the experience, making them targets for patients to push you into treatments you may not feel comfortable doing. But stand your ground! You have the qualification and you are the professional, albeit a young one.
Graduates from different universities seem to have had different amounts of clinical experience during their degree. But do not panic if you have only undertaken two molar root canal treatments – as doing another five more will not make you any better! Just let your team know areas of weakness so they are aware you may struggle with certain procedures.Take the time to practise on extracted teeth and ask for help. Make the most of your study days as courses cost money, especially with the loss of earnings for time off.
My first job summarised in 3 words – brilliant, fun and challenging! Enjoy your time in your first job, just remember to relax, have fun and face the challenges with a brave face.