Communication skills, strong resume key for new dental grads

For those attending dental school, May is a time for graduation and celebration, with new graduates beginning to enter a diverse workforce.

There are several things dental school graduates can do to ensure they will have the chops to land a position with a practice. Experts in the field told Florida Business Daily what new dental grads can expect and how they can be successful in the impending job hunt.

Dr. Annelise Driscoll, the director of the Executive Practice Management Program for Dentists within the University of Florida College of Dentistry's Office of Continuing Dental Education, said that new dental grads must possess strong communication skills as they enter the workforce to be successful.

"The important characteristics for dental grads to possess at this time are strong communication and interpersonal skills, and a competitive advantage that brings value to the practices in which they are wanting to work in," Driscoll said. "Communication skills are needed to successfully navigate through the interview process while interpersonal skills enhance the negotiation and relationship-building aspect of the job offer process."

Driscoll said that the other important factor for dental grads is having a strong resume and cover letter, which can "differentiate the dental grad from others and illustrate the strengths they can bring to the practice settings in which they wish to work," Driscoll said.

"Whether the competitive advantage is being bilingual, entrenched in a community of potential patients, or possessing much-desired additional clinical or management skills, they should be presented in the cover letter and CV and highlighted during an interview process," Driscoll said.

The Executive Practice Management program that Driscoll heads teaches students a plethora of management and business concepts associated with running their own practice. The program consists of a 13-month session of rigorous training intended to provide an understanding of human resources and staff management, the operations of running a practice, financial management and marketing of the practice.

Dr. Sameera Hussain, president of Dental Dreams, a multi-state practice helping underserved communities across the country, said that the job market for dental grads is healthy and should be encouraging.

“The great news for new dental graduates is that they will have great options to choose from,” Hussain said. “There is high demand for dentists upon graduation in every sector of the market.”

Hussain said that the greatest need for new dentists is in the part of the market that serves patients receiving Medicaid benefits.

“There is an extreme shortage of dentists for dental practices that treat children and families who receive their care through Medicaid,” Hussain said. “Most dental practices do not accept Medicaid as a form of payment."

The majority of patients seen by Dental Dreams have Medicaid coverage. For many, dental care is a “luxury," as characterized by Hussain, and put off as long as it can be.  

“By bringing our offices into those communities, fortunately, we have been able to make inroads in meeting those needs," Hussain said. "But there is very high demand for our services and an extreme need for dentists to help us meet this demand.”

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