At some point, you will no longer be a dentist.
- Most of you will encounter this when you eventually retire.
- Some will decide to leave the career early probably to pursue other avenues
- Some of you will be forced out of the profession, either through health or the regulator
When that moment arrives, some of you will be glad you are no longer a dentist. Some of you who leave voluntarily will feel the draw to be dragged back in. Others will be consumed by a feeling of injustice, maybe depression.
Everyone’s reaction will be different. When I sold my practice in 2017, I decided to take a year out and reassess. I felt the draw pulling me back in, only to quickly realise that chair side dentistry was no longer for me. So I went into teaching, but my health has deteriorated to the extent I can’t even do that effectively. Which is a shame because I had a lot to offer.
For those of you who descend into a dark place at this time, remember it usually sorts itself out. I’m speaking from experience here. The key is to develop another interest that can consume you just as dentistry could so often consume your time. For me, it was writing. And it can be anything, just so long as you are still able to grow and improve yourself.
This might take the form of something that needs to generate an income, but many of you, by the time you are done, won’t have much in the way of concerns in that regard. I’ve said before, for those who need the income from dentistry to finance their lifestyle and pay their bills, they need a plan B to fall back on so they can continue putting food on the table.
The problem is, every dentist I meet tells me they are broke, even the ones who earn vast sums in private practice. The income the average dentist makes has the potential to give them the financial security they need so they never have to work a day past the age of 55.
For those of you who stop being a dentist, it can be a bit of a shock. It was a big part of your life, and now that has gone. Your mind will start to churn as it adjusts, and I’ve heard of people “finding” problems with their lives to replace the issues that come with treating members of the public. The last thing you want to do is put your feet up and stagnate. The human mind isn’t designed for that. It needs challenges and inspiration. It’s the same with the body, which needs to be tested to stop it atrophying.
So when you finally hand up your handpiece, what are you going to do? You need to be able to accept that the dentistry is done, that it was a part of your life that is now over.
Or do you want to be one of those practising into their 70’s? There are some people who love the job so much that they relish the prospect of this, but I wouldn’t recommend it ;)
That’s the way it looks from here