dental career

All of the aspects that positively affect the psychology of a person’s well-being -purpose, meaning, identity, fulfillment, creativity – are absent in the average job. Seventy percent of Americans do not feel engaged in their current job. Seventy percent – that scares me. On the other hand, DentalPost’s satisfaction survey, conducted in 2022, found that over seventy percent of dental professionals are satisfied with their dental career choice.

I believe that career dissatisfaction is much lower in dentistry because it’s a profession that helps others. The satisfaction survey also found that every dental position’s top aspect about their jobs was positive patient interaction. Hopefully, you get to make people happy in your practice, and you get joy in the process. (If not, you’re in the wrong profession.) While we may be better off than the general population in job satisfaction, I still hear many people complain (to be fair, there will always be a few negative Nellies in any profession).

Being A Dental Professional is a gift to both sides

We are lucky to be in a profession that serves others – lucky to have been born with the gift of giving and the training to help. Whether it’s to fix broken teeth or save someone’s life with an intraoral exam, helping others makes us feel good. Money cannot buy the feeling we receive from knowing we’ve changed someone’s life, even if only in a small way. I love that our profession is a gift to both sides.

In 2013, researchers at Oxford University predicted that machines might be able to perform half of all U.S. jobs in the next two decades. That prediction is pretty audacious, but it might not be large enough. However, they stated that psychologists have the least likely computerized profession, even though people may prefer telling a computer the truth than risking moral judgment.

The idea that half of today’s jobs may vanish has changed my thinking about my children’s future. There’s a large older workforce and fewer jobs for the young professionals entering the job market: automation versus augmentation.

This happened before: we replaced horses and mules with tractors and cars. As a consequence, the population of horses dropped by nearly 50 percent, while the mule population dropped by nearly 90 percent by the 1950s.

The human touch in dentistry is irreplaceable

In this era, we’re the horses that are replaceable. Yet, even with the possibility of computers replacing traditional jobs, it’s still a safe bet that they won’t replace a dental clinician. Our human touch in dentistry is a moat that machines cannot cross.

Other professions are not so lucky in job security or satisfaction. Skills required in most offices are so limited that people hardly reach their full potential throughout their careers. Most jobs are boring, repetitive, and easily learned. But it’s the purpose, meaning, identity, fulfillment, and creativity that affect the positive psychology of a person’s well-being, and it’s our responsibility to push and expand our abilities and find fulfillment elsewhere.

Purpose = happiness and success

The minority of people who reach for purpose are the happiest and some of the most successful people in the world. The rest of us, those who look for pleasure and immediate gratification, are unsatisfied.

Some people find purpose in being a parent, building a church, or raising money for a worthy cause. Others take pleasure from eating that extra donut or having that extra glass of wine and wind up feeling guilty from overindulging and regretting something they said under the influence.

If you wonder if you’re seeking your purpose or if you’re seeking your pleasure, ask yourself who you’re doing it for. Is it for yourself, or is it for others? That humanity, that willingness to give and to help, is what will keep us secure: secure in ourselves, secure in our jobs, and secure in our ultimate happiness.

Updated September 2022.

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