Paul Redpath is completing his fourth year as a dental student at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine. For insight on improving your clinic performance, take a look at his post Timeframe and Communication in the Dental School Clinic on THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador blogs. In this interview, he shares with us his desire for independence, which led him to dentistry, as well as his concerns with the field.
THE NEXTDDS: Why did you choose dentistry as a career path? What about it is appealing to you?
PR: Independence. Being able to be your own boss, you can make your own hours, you have control over your life. Also, the ability to work with my hands, work with patients every day. There is always more mastery involved with dentistry as well. You’re doing something day in and day out that serves a purpose and makes a difference in the world.
THE NEXTDDS: Is it generational?
PR: No, it’s just me. I’ll be the first dentist in my family.
THE NEXTDDS: Were you excited or nervous when working on your first patient?
PR: It was challenging at first. When you walk in, you don’t really know what you’re doing. You don’t really know how the clinic works. Our clinic also had a new computer system we weren’t really trained well on--it was difficult. Once you find a way to balance everything, it becomes much easier.
THE NEXTDDS: What aspect of dental school is the most challenging for you?
PR: There is a lot of moving parts. You have to schedule the patients, make sure they show up, form relationships. You have to make sure you’re not neglecting them. You’re basically doing the job of an entire office in one person. Other challenges include working with professors, finding out their availability, lab work, organization obligations, and exams. Just balancing everything and making sure all the moving parts are working together is a lot of work.
THE NEXTDDS: What do you envision your next five years in dentistry to look like?
PR: I plan on working in private practice as an associate and I’ll also be in the U.S. Army Reserves one weekend a month. Paying off my student debt is also a plan of mine.
THE NEXTDDS: What clinical topics do you find most intriguing?
PR: Implants are number one for me. Digital scanning, 3D printing, and CAD/CAM are also very interesting topics. This is the future of dentistry.
THE NEXTDDS: What clinical topics would be most beneficial to illustrate in online articles/images/videos?
PR: In-person demonstrations are the best way to learn implant procedures. With scanning, you can learn a lot from watching a video on the topic. For implants, however, you need to have a hands-on experience to build competency.
THE NEXTDDS: How has your experience as a THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador helped you in networking with your peers?
PR: I went to the conference in Boston last year, the 2015 ASDA Annual Session. A lot of people that I met there are involved with THE NEXTDDS. It was cool. We got to know each other after speaking of our involvement with THE NEXTDDS. Also, I learned a lot more about certain topics from the blogs the Student Ambassadors have written.
THE NEXTDDS: Chief concern about being a dental student?
PR: I’m concerned about DSOs and the future of dentistry; I don’t want to see the profession head in a direction where dentists give up their autonomy. I got into dentistry to provide much-needed care and to have control over all practice decisions. I don’t want to be involved in ANY practice environment where I give up that control.
THE NEXTDDS: What do you enjoy most about being a dental student, or dental school in general?
PR: What I enjoyed most was the connections you make with people. The Rutgers Dental School community is very close-knit. Throughout the 4 years, we have always worked together and had each other’s backs. I’ll always remember the friends that I made and the memories. We are all in this together. Being involved with various organized dental groups such as NJDA, ADA, and ASDA is something I will continue throughout my career because it’s really great to be with people that are like-minded, who care for each other, and want to see what’s best for our patients and dentistry as a whole.
Also, THE NEXTDDS would also like to thank Paul Redpath for being a great Student Ambassador at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine for the 2014-2016 academic years. Congratulations, and we hope all the best for Paul in his future endeavors!