By Courtney L. Lavigne, DMD
Graduating dental school with today’s student debt burden is overwhelming. It can be even more stressful to finally finish school and realize how little you know, how inundated dentistry can make you feel, and how difficult it can be to find the path to do the dentistry you always dreamed of doing. Three years out of dental school, I found myself burning out—feeling overworked and underpaid.
In that situation, it’s hard to imagine spending any more money, but in my experience, it’s a necessity to advance your potential clinically, which will in turn increase the satisfaction you gain from the profession.
One of the ways I found my path out of burnout and into a real passion for the profession was through the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). It was through this association that I found mentors who taught me how to decrease the number of patients I see per day, increase my clinical ability and the complexity of the dental work I’m doing, and find greater financial and personal rewards in the process.
It can be intimidating to attend an annual meeting when you are flying out of town, staying at a hotel by yourself, questioning how to dress, and realizing you don’t know anyone. The AACD’s annual meeting made it easy to enter the world of cosmetic dentistry because they find mentors to reach out to first-time attendees. At my first meeting, I met my mentor, and we’ve become good friends since. The lectures and hands-on workshops at their annual meeting are, in my opinion, the best bang-for-your-buck available in dentistry today. Over the course of a three-day period, you can learn from some of the best lecturers in the world, and take home pearls you can put into practice the next time you’re in the office.
I’ve attended the conference every year since my first, and I take Newton Fahl’s hands-on workshop multiple times at every conference. In addition to the educational material, I always look forward to the evening events which are not only fun, but allow you to network with some of dentistry’s best and brightest. I’ve made some of my closest friends in dentistry this way.
This year at the annual meeting in Las Vegas, I was honored to be on the other side, lecturing for the first time. A few years ago, I would have never imagined I could have knowledge others would benefit from. But today, I’m enjoying sharing the knowledge, tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way, alongside others striving to do the same.
It’s hard to swallow the expenses of some of this continuing education as a new graduate, but the return on your investment will truly be priceless.
Courtney Lavigne received her undergraduate degree at Creighton University and her doctorate at the University of Connecticut. She maintains a private fee-for-service practice in the Boston suburbs with a focus on cosmetic dentistry. She started her practice from scratch in 2013.
Dr. Lavigne is a fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry, the Pierre Fauchard Academy, visiting faculty and online author for Spear Education, and working towards accreditation through the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.