Landing a good dental job later in life, especially after a severe injury or illness can be challenging. The conventional wisdom says it’s impossible. The facts say otherwise. There is a stereotypical view of job opportunities for dentists after being sick or injured severely. It’s not pretty.  The only spots available are lower paying and offer limited rewards. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you want to get back into the workforce after your rehabilitation and recovery, there are good jobs out there.

Still, the myths persist despite all evidence to the contrary. Here are five prevalent misconceptions about working after a disabling event, especially if it occurs later in life.


I’m not going to find a good job.


As a dental professional the skills that you have acquired over your career are highly valued by potential employers. Practice management relates directly to business management and those skill have to be learned, not taught.  Whether you return to active dental practice or part-time work , you experience is very valuable.  Corporate dentistry understands that value and you will be far ahead of new graduates in the application process.  Dentists are living longer and are staying healthy longer, so they are able to take on more demanding work and keep pace with their peers regardless of age.

The opportunities outside of conventional private practice are endless.  Whether you pursue consulting, teaching, volunteering, or transitioning to field unrelated to dentistry; your experience as an entrepreneur is critical to success and  is something that cannot be bought for any price.  Skilled dentists are getting jobs with better pay, status, and working conditions, than prior generations.


You can’t take time off, or you’ll never get back into the workforce.


About 40% of dentists who claim they are retiring, take a break and subsequently return to work , typically within two years. It doesn’t matter whether your break was due to an illness or accident, you can return to a position with determination and desire.  Approximately 50% of dentists who take career breaks move on to fields not directly tied to their former practice setting. Since work breaks are not uncommon, they should not be looked at as a disadvantage. Getting personal practice and financial goals in perspective with the time available in a break can lead to sound smart decisions on your future.  No one should work indefinitely, and keeping yourself active and valued is a worthy goal for all of us.

Economic necessity doesn’t appear to play a big role in returning to work for many.  Even with disability insurance benefits, the clear choice to continue to be relevant and valued plays as key role in the decision to continue to contribute.  Breaks are not as harmful to careers as they used be, given the shift in the need for highly skilled professionals.  There are more dentists now, but there are more people in the USA too.   A noted percentage of practitioners are less interested in the non monetary benefits of working.  That includes the feeling of value and social networking that come with contributing. Dentists like their jobs and keeping a tight hold on that value is an important part of happiness for our profession.


I’m not going to make as big a contribution as I did in the past.


Skilled dentists can play a more vital role than ever. When it comes to productivity,studies show little to no relationship between age and job performance. Dentists with experience far outperform those who are newer to practice. Wisdom doesn’t just help basic job performance, it makes experienced dentists into valuable role models for students and younger practitioners. These traits are not ignored by potential employers.  Skilled dentists can spend time mentoring, lecturing, consulting, advising, and teaching.   They make a huge difference and contribution to the dental profession.  As a valuable component to our profession, skilled/senior dentists are relied upon to teach “the trickiest things”  younger practitioners need to learn; including sound judgement, and how to build trust with patients, staff, and colleagues. Their contribution to the profession is immense.


The only type of work that is available to injured dentists is part-time.


The number of dentists working full-time has dramatically increased over the past thirty years, especially dentists over the age of 60. Whether that is due to financial or economic reasons, the number are increasing.   Overall the population of the USA is healthier and living longer than previous generations.  With new technologies, equipment, and expanded function assistants, the realistic career length of dentists is steadily increasing. Skilled dentists may find that their job skills continue to be valuable in practices and thereby enabling them to extend their practical work lives by many years.  A doctorate degree has intrinsic value and the opportunities that it presents are dramatically large. Dentists can easily transition into full-time positions totally unrelated to clinical dentistry.


The chance to start a new practice has passed me by.


It’s easier to pick your own hours if you are your own boss.   Many dentists are forced to sell their hard-won practices due to illness, injury, or for economic reasons.   After the sale, reality sets in and a strong desire to “get back in the saddle” replaces the anxiety and fear that initially are overwhelming.   Starting a dental practice is complex and very challenging.  The good thing is that experience is this field is hard won and definitely worth the effort.   Dentists have a reputation for perseverance, and use that trait to your advantage.   You ran a practice before and can do it again.  It doesn’t matter if you purchase an existing practice or start a new one.    YOU KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.








One comment

  1. […] Be prepared to start at an entry level staff position.  No one is captain of the ship the first day.  Being humble is difficult for a dentist since we have been leaders since our first day in practice.  Being a good follower is the first step in being a good leader.   Unrealistic job expectations are the primary reasons so many dentists fail to find meaningful employment after they reduce or halt their clinical practice of dentistry.  We have seen too many dentists completely frustrated and despondent.  Transition is not easy and we have previously discussed this challenging topic. FIVE MYTHS ABOUT GETTING A NEW DENTAL JOB. […]


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