Bills and more bills, we all have significant financial obligations as practicing dentists. Our staff needs to be paid. We have a practice mortgage and of course our lab bill.  The list goes on and on.  We have chosen this profession and going broke in the process should not be required.  As an ill or injured dentist, the financial aspect of dental practice can be even more critical. When you are not able to work, production is likely to come to a sudden halt.

Our risk of becoming disabled for at least 3 or more months during our dental practicing years is at least 25%.   Many of those effected will never return to active dental practice.  It doesn’t matter whether it is cancer or a bad car accident.  The effect on an active dental practice are the same. This is a well documented fact and we all run the same risk over our careers.

When you are considering your options, transitioning into a new field or practice will most likely take time. During your transition, your personal and professional financial obligations will not cease.  Seriously consider pursuit of a field that will pay you during orientation and retraining.  If you were forced to sell your practice or required to move to a new city, the financial burden may be immense.  You may be fine for a while, but eventually you will need to make some tough decisions. Your disability benefits will definitely help (if you have them), but many find the need seek additional sources of income.  Your benefits will likely run out in your 60’s, what are you going to do then?

Planning for a comfortable life when you have been injured or seriously ill,is very difficult.  We all want to pursue our dreams and being realistic on our future considering our physical health is critical.  You will need to be flexible and adapt to your new reality.  No one really wants to be called a “senior”. You probable didn’t have a clue what you would do after you left clinical dentistry, and now you need to work at transitioning. Yes work, it will require determined effort on your part.

For a significant number of dentists, remaining in a field related to dentistry/healthcare is very attractive.  We have dedicated a significant portion of our lives to helping others directly, and that desire quite often remains an integral part of our personalities.  Start looking at job opportunities that can provide an immediate income, if that is important to you transition decision.  Look at these areas for positions that may pay you to learn new skills.

  1.  Academics   Whether you pursue a position in a dental school, dental hygiene school, technical college, or even high school.  Many programs will pay you to teach or student teach very early in your transition.  Don’t limit you efforts to seeking immediate full-time positions.  Many opportunities are only offered to those who start part-time.
  2. Dental Specialists  There are a number of officially recognized dental specialties. Realistically if you have been in practice for a few years, your alternatives are somewhat fewer than a new dental school graduate. Sincerely consider transitioning into Dental Radiology, Oral-facial Pain, or Dental Pathology. All theses programs now pay annual stipend approaching $50,000 dollars a year. They are legitimate alternative to physically capable practitioners.  Of course, you could consider Orthodontics, Endodontics,  or Periodontics; but they often will not provide significant stipends.
  3. Dental Sales  Many dental supply companies and dental manufacturers employ dentists in their sales force. You are already familiar with the terminology/field and can transition into sales.  Most companies will offer a short-term salary package initially, but your sales production in the long run will dictate your compensation.
  4. Dental Missions  A number of charitable institutions offer volunteer opportunities worldwide. Most will provide expense compensation only, but this is a field that may turn into a long-term opportunity.   There are ADA sponsored positions as well as numerous private and federal government programs in place.
  5. Organized Dentistry  Quite a few dentists become involved in national and state level dental programs. There are a number of positions at the ADA level that are filled by disabled dentists.   There are many paid positions at the committee and director level.   Some States also have paid positions in their Associations; they can include editors, writers, and executive directors.    A number of State Associations have direct relationships will charitable foundations and insurance groups.   All have paid supervisory staff and many are dentists.  Your diligent research into potential job opportunities will be surprising rewarded with a number of opportunities.

The most desirable option is to remain in dentistry and either open or buy a new practice; or you could seek a position as a dental associate in a preexisting practice.  These options may not be realistic alternatives due to physical incapacitation or lack of true desire.  Many practitioners will need to look at other fields and opportunities outside of healthcare.

If you choose to pursue a field totally unrelated to dentistry, you are free look into any number of business options. Your undergraduate degree may give you real opportunity in a number of fields. As a holder of a doctorate degree, your professional management skills are very desirable and you have a number of options. The hobbies you developed over your career may also give you ideas.  Love your new job and look at the recreational pursuits you once did only a few weeks a year, as year round opportunities.

See our posting on varied job opportunities.Career Options They are related to healthcare but will get you started. In addition, our website has numerous postings outlining the details of many transitioning options.







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