While most people think of dentistry strictly as private practitioners, dentists can also practice in a corporate setting. Some of the benefits that corporate dentistry may provide are administrative and marketing support, higher upfront pay out of school and the number of opportunities available.
Gary Palsis, DMD
Associate Dentist, Downtown Dental
- Why did you choose to pursue this career path?
It may sound cliché, but I was initially interested in dentistry because my father is a dentist. However, I became even more intrigued by the profession after joining the University of Florida’s predental chapter in college. It really helped me meet other kids my age that were pursuing the same dream and made the idea of actually applying to dental school a reality. I knew that dentistry offered the type of life that I wanted for myself. Dentists enjoy regular business hours, great salaries, interesting continuing education and the opportunity to work with their hands rather than stare at a computer screen all day. Plus, there are so many different specialties and ways to create a unique style of practice that dentistry is rarely boring.
- What does your typical day look like? Did some aspects of your job surprise you?
A typical day in my current group practice consists of a schedule of about eight or nine of my own patients scheduled for restorative procedures. There are some new patient exams and recall exams also scattered throughout the day. In my practice, there are four general dentists and three specialists that share the workload. The only aspect that surprised me about my job was the amount of energy it takes every day to be personable and a perfectionist in your clinical skills for your patients. As with most medical fields, there are definitely some days where dentistry takes a toll on your body and mind.
- What challenges present themselves frequently in your specialty?
I am constantly faced with the task of monitoring and diagnosing pathology throughout the entire mouth. It is sometimes difficult to treatment-plan a mouth that has multiple complex issues. Furthermore, it can be challenging to convince a patient that the work they need is necessary.
- What makes your field unique?
What makes general dentistry unique is the ability to work with every specialty intimately. I am usually the first one to see a patient who may be in pain and may not know why. I go into the exam room and act like a detective trying to solve a case. As a general dentist I can do almost any dental procedure I feel comfortable with and can tailor my practice accordingly. For example, if I didn’t like doing extractions but love doing root canals, I can pick and choose which cases I want to do and which cases to refer to a specialist.
- What additional training, credentials or licenses are required beyond dental school for your career? What additional training would you recommend beyond what is required?
The only additional credentialing I needed to have in order to work in Chicago was a different state board. I passed the NERB in Florida, which was not accepted in Illinois. So I took the WREB in order to obtain a license in Chicago. A lot of my colleagues had additional training in specialties or GPR/AEGD programs, which I would totally recommend if you plan on delivering any complex treatment such as implants.
- What are current trends in your field? In what ways is it advancing?
Right now a trend in general dentistry is CAD/CAM scanning and delivery of indirect restorations. Using a 3D scanning camera, crowns, inlays and onlays can be fabricated and delivered in one visit. It cuts down on lab costs and is changing the way dentists take impressions. CAD/CAM technology can be combined with CBCT scanning technology to place and restore implants with more precision than ever before.
- What skills are especially important in your field?
As a general dentist, it is important to have some general working knowledge of multiple areas of dentistry. Having steady hands and a generally good bedside manner certainly couldn’t hurt.
- What advice would you give to somebody interested in your career path?
I would tell them that dentistry is a rewarding career that can open many doors. Almost everyone that chooses dentistry seems to enjoy it. Dentistry also takes a serious commitment of time, energy and money. So if they don’t think they will love it, dentistry may not be for them.