Dentistry is a demanding profession. Meticulous attention to detail and superior manual dexterity, along with the pressure to meet productivity expectations, contribute to the emotional stress that clinicians face on a daily basis. Chronic stress and exhaustion can lead to burnout, which negatively affects both physical and mental health. Fatigue, insomnia, weakened immune system, and musculoskeletal problems are all exacerbated by burnout. Dental professionals often experience symptoms of distress and undervaluation, which may lead them to consider transitioning to a non-clinical career.
The mass exodus of healthcare professionals following the COVID-19 pandemic did not spare the dental industry. Faced with an ever-growing list of new clinical protocols and increased risk associated with aerosols, dental clinicians experienced a new wave of stress and anxiety. Fortunately, dentistry provides dental professionals with a range of options beyond purely clinical roles. These options can allow them to pursue their passions, leverage their expertise, and reduce overall fatigue.
Within the field of dentistry, dental professionals now have the opportunity to make a meaningful impact by exploring nonclinical career paths. They can discover fulfilling opportunities that align not only with their expertise but also with their personal passions. When considering non-clinical options, it is crucial to engage in preparation. Start by identifying and focusing on your strengths. Ask yourself questions such as: Where do I excel? What are my unique strengths? What are my passions and interests? And, ultimately, what do I hope to achieve?
If you channel your energy toward your areas of excellence, you will achieve remarkable results and make significant contributions. By capitalizing on your strengths, you can develop a unique expertise that sets you apart from others. This will enable you to pursue a career path that aligns with your interests, utilizes your strengths, and positions you for success in a new field. By adopting this approach, you can begin the necessary steps to embark on a fulfilling professional journey outside of clinical practice.
A successful transition to a non-clinical career requires effort. It entails acquiring new and relevant skills or certifications, networking both in-person and on social media, and seeking guidance from a mentor. These tools are essential for navigating the transition successfully. When asked about the available non-clinical opportunities, many dental professionals commonly mention research, education, sales, consulting, and management. However, with the integration of technology into dentistry, the industry is undergoing a remarkable transformation, largely due to the presence of dental tech startup companies.
In the dental tech startup space, you can find companies involved in robotic-assisted surgeries, 3D printed restorations, orthodontic appliances, and AI software systems, among others. Through innovation, dental professionals can combine their dental expertise with cutting-edge technology to revolutionize patient care, streamline practice processes, and enhance overall efficiency in dental practices.
Dental tech startups or SaaS startups often hire dental professionals to assist with the integration of their products after a practice makes a purchase. These professionals ensure customer satisfaction, provide training on the new system, and offer ongoing support. To thrive in a tech startup environment, it is crucial to recognize and embrace the potential of technology in improving dentistry. Staying informed about emerging trends and understanding how they can be integrated into dental practices is important. Keeping up with the latest advancements is essential, but equally important is the ability to collaborate with colleagues and adapt to change. Having a business mindset is also beneficial when working at a startup, as it requires a deep understanding of the market, its dynamics, and identifying target customers.
Implementation specialists play a crucial role in facilitating the adoption of new products and services in dental practices. They are responsible for the initial implementation, ensuring smooth product usage, and addressing any implementation-related issues that may arise. The customer success team focuses on delivering exceptional customer service by promptly responding to inquiries, resolving problems, and offering guidance. Software trainers are responsible for training the dental practice team on how to use the product effectively, including delivering training materials. In some cases, they may also be involved in designing the training materials themselves.
While implementation, customer success, and software training are prominent roles, there are other exciting opportunities to explore in these startup companies. Product development, for instance, allows dental professionals to utilize their expertise in contributing to the creation of new and innovative dental products. This can involve designing dental instruments and tools or developing software applications specifically tailored for dental practices. Dental professionals in this field play an integral part in advancing the industry.
Sales and marketing positions are well-suited for dental professionals who possess a business acumen. They can play a pivotal role in helping startups reach their target audience and expand their market presence. Responsibilities in these roles often include creating marketing campaigns, developing sales materials, and delivering presentations. Dental professionals, leveraging their expertise, can effectively engage with dental practices by providing consultative education on the benefits of dental products and services. Building partnerships becomes an integral part of driving company growth.
When embarking on a career change, it is crucial to identify your strengths while embracing the unknown. Non-clinical careers present numerous opportunities for dental professionals to apply their skills and knowledge in innovative ways. Transitioning to a non-clinical career path requires patience, perseverance, and adaptability. Being open to entry-level positions allows you to gain valuable experience and progress over time. This may involve long-term planning and necessitate temporary adjustments, but the potential for long-term change makes it worthwhile.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Allison Norris is a dental hygienist by profession. She left clinical dentistry in 2018. Throughout her career, she spearheaded multiple product launches, coached dental hygiene teams across the Southeast, helped build the consulting division at a dental billing organization, and successfully launched an orthodontic tech startup as the director of development.
After resigning from the startup, she launched the Dentele Group, a non-clinical recruiting agency. The Dentele Group was nominated Top Recruiter 2022 and Top Talent’s Agency to Watch 2022.
Allison has been published in Dental Entrepreneur Women Magazine, featured in multiple magazine articles, podcasts, and more!
She can be reached at thedentelegroup.com & Linkedin.com/in/allisonnorris.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: MinskDesign/Shutterstock.com.