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Washington State Dental Association

6 Tips for Post-Grad Success

Lynne Nelson of Columbia Bank, a WSDA preferred lender, shares six tips to help dental school post-grads prepare for a career.

The last two years of dental school are often the most stressful. Between completing clinical requirements and passing board exams, it’s easy to get lost in the mire of day-to-day responsibility. In my 25 years of experience, I have found that keeping the following tips in mind will help prepare you for post-graduation success in the dental industry.  

• Gain Experience: Internships and residency programs can expand your experience and bolster your CV for associateship positions or purchasing opportunities in the future.

• Build Your Team: Having a seasoned and reliable team of professionals on your team is essential to building a successful dental practice. Even if you’re not planning to start your own practice now, investing in relationships with accountants, attorneys, brokers and bankers will help you develop a network of reliable service partners to engage down the road. 

• Seek Advice: Whether it’s fellow students, established professionals, or professors, finding individuals you look up to in the industry and asking them for advice is one of the best ways to get ahead by learning from their mistakes, and gathering industry knowledge. Most often, people want to share their wisdom and will be happy to sit down with you.

• Check Your Credit Score: Familiarity with your credit score is imperative in advance of making a large purchase. Your credit score is impacted by many different factors – it can go up and down based on how much revolving credit you carry, how many credit inquiries you have, and being late on a late student loan payment. When paying off student loans, take care to check and make sure you show a zero balance within 30 days. There can be residual interest that is tacked on at the end of the month following a payment, and can result in a late payment.

• Create a Personal Financial Statement: A personal financial statement is a spreadsheet that outlines your financial position at a given point. Creating a personal financial statement clearly shows a breakdown of your total assets and liabilities, and will help you understand your financial situation from a big picture view. Don’t be discouraged if you have a negative net worth - most graduates come out with student loan debt. 

• Network, Network, and Network: Get involved in the dental community through state dental associations (like the WSDA!), non-profit organizations, and professional development programs such as study clubs and local society meetings. You never know where you will meet a mentor or future business partner. Getting involved will help equip you with the best tools and relationships to create a successful and meaningful career in dentistry.

Lynne Nelson is a Vice President of Professional Banking servicing Columbia Bank’s growing client base of dentists, veterinarians and physicians in Washington. She has more than 25 years of experience in the dental industry and works with a team of dental experts across the Pacific Northwest to provide targeted insight and financial solutions. Connect with Lynn today to learn more about starting your dental practice.

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