Never Settling – Angela Cotey
Dentistry has so many opportunities with the best part being you really have a lot of choices and can chose your own destiny. When I graduated dental school from Marquette University, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew there were endless possibilites for me to explore.
I had the amazing opportunity to join the US Navy during dental school. I got to travel the world and take care of the outstanding individuals who serve our country and protect our freedom. It was a true honor and I loved many aspects of it. I was able to provide ideal treatment without worrying about dental insurance coverage or how the patient would finance the treatment. I also was not involved in hiring and firing, budgets, OSHA and many of the other things that are involved in owning a practice. My first year in the Navy was a General Practice Residency which was a great way to work with specialists and gain more advanced clinical experience. My other duty station was in Japan and it was really a once in a lifetime opportunity to live overseas and experience another culture. I would highly recommend it! I was really enjoying my time in the Navy, however it was hard to be 3 time zones away from my closest family and friends. I made many wonderful friendships, but people were always coming and going. I decided that although I loved to travel, I craved some stability in my life. I made the decision to move back closer to home and I thought I would be happy as an associate in either a partnership or group practice.
I ended up in a group practice and also enjoyed my experience there. It was a larger group so I got to meet a lot of wonderful people who also taught me many useful tips and tricks on how to make dentistry easier and more fun. I was able to learn from the experiences others who had been practicing, assisting for manye years. I also got to see many different ways of doing the same thing and made many great friendships, however something was still missing. I felt that I wasn’t really making a true connection with my patients. Depending on scheduling or other factors a lot of times I would see a patient once and then their next few visits would be with other providers. I realized what I was longing for was to offer patients the experience I had growing up.
My dentist was my mom’s high school friend and she had one assistant and one hygeinist so every visit I had was with a familiar face. They were like family to me and I still send my childhood dentist a holiday card every year. I began my search for a smaller practice that wasn’t so large and fast paced. I was lucky enough, after exploring many possibilities, to end up finding a solo practice for sale in a small, but wonderful community. It had only three employees and was just the type of practice that I thought would finally fulfill all my goals. Even though I had never dreamed of owning my own practice when I finished dental school I decided to take the leap. It’s been over 3 years now in my solo practice and I could not be happier. I enjoy taking the time I need with my patients, working in a small, tight knit community and being able to make decisions that fit my ideals of how I want to practice dentistry. I have many dentist friends who have chosen different ways to practice dentistry, and everybody has a different idea of what their perfect career path looks like. The exciting thing about dentistry is that there are so many possibilities, so no matter what your dreams are, you never have to settle until you find that perfect fit!
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