On any job search, there are many factors to consider. You’ve got to weigh your options carefully and take into account everything from location to practice type. However, if you’ve got a spouse or long-term partner, you’re not making the decision on your own. As you move through a job search at the beginning of your dental career, advance as a clinician, and perhaps change your employment situation, your spouse should be involved in the dental hiring process.
Working as a Dentist Can Strain Your Marriage
Dentistry is hard work, especially early in your career. It can require long hours and the bulk of your mental and emotional energy. Long days and difficult cases can leave you feeling drained with little left to give to your spouse or family. Whether you’re a new or experienced doctor, it’s worth it to invest in good habits to help you avoid burnout. Getting home with enough energy and attention span to bond with your spouse and setting aside time on your days off to connect will be well worth it in the long run.
The reality of working as a dentist can bring a rude awakening for some doctors, as well as their spouses. Dentists have historically been at higher risk for issues like depression and suicide than the national average. Thankfully, recent efforts to reverse this trend appear to be working. In addition to more risk for mental health issues, dentists also see higher rates of divorce than other professions. It’s important to enter this career with full awareness of these risks so you can take steps to avoid them.
Whether you’re a dentist considering marriage or a married person becoming a dentist, sit down with your spouse to discuss exactly what they expect out of you and your career. Some people enter a dental marriage expecting high income, luxury cars, and yearly vacations. The reality is that marrying a dentist can be difficult. Spouses often cope with high levels of debt, spend restricted vacation time monitoring the office, and eat alone some days. It’s important that both partners are very clear in what they expect from the marriage and enter it with realistic expectations and mindfulness where compromises need to be made.
Choose a Location That Works for Both of You
One main area where your spouse needs to have a say in your dental hiring process is choosing your location. You could choose one of the best states for dentists, but you have to consult your spouse. Do they need to live near family? What sort of lifestyle are they looking for? If they also work, will they have career opportunities in the area? These are all questions that must be taken into consideration when deciding on the ideal working area for both of you.
However, some compromises may need to happen. As much as everyone would love to find their ideal job in the perfect location where their spouse can easily also pursue their career, some concessions may need to happen. You or your spouse may need to be a bit further from family than you’d wish to give yourselves the best career opportunities. As we’ve discussed previously, some of the best dental career opportunities may lie in rural areas. Taking advantage of opportunities away from urban centers may make your partner’s career search a bit more difficult. They may need to think about alternative modes of employment. For example, does their career allow for telecommuting?
Hopefully, you will love whatever position you choose and stay with the practice for several years, if not indefinitely. Be sure to discuss long-term life plans with your spouse as well. If you’re planning to have children, you may want to spend a moment looking into schools in the area, for example. Will your partner want plenty of outdoor space for dogs? Just as you will want to find an employment situation that suits your lifestyle and hobbies, it’s equally important to seek a location that suits your partner’s preferences if possible.
Office Culture Can Affect Your Home Life
It may seem like your spouse will have little to do with your life at work. After all, it’s not like they’re there all day with you. In reality, the culture and work environment you live in for the bulk of your weekdays can have a huge impact on your private life, including your life partner!
The most obvious impact office culture will have on your spouse is its effect on your mood. If your office is toxic and stressful, it will be hard to arrive home in a great mood after work. As funny as it may sound, it’s important to feel out the vibe of your potential new work home. During your interview process, try to feel out any employees you get to interact with. Do they seem happy and comfortable at work overall? Do the patients in the waiting room seem edgy and nervous or generally cheerful? While it can be hard to quantify the emotional temperature of a dental office, try to check in with how you feel walking in the door. You’ll likely be carrying that energy home with you at the end of the workday!
The culture and philosophy of the practice you choose to work with can also affect your partner in other ways. Dental practices that value work/life balance will be more likely to work with you on getting time off for important life events, for example. Practices that only see you as a cog in their production line can undervalue your time and leave you fighting for vacations and family events.
Here at CDP, we see each of our team members as full people with rich lives outside of work. That’s why our nine pillars all work together to create a positive, balanced atmosphere inside the practice and out. The smoother your life outside work, the more energized you will be in your work. Most importantly, great balance and good office culture will free you to do your best work for your patients.
We spoke with members of our team and their spouses about the importance of supporting eachother in this field. Dr. Lucas Ebaugh had this to say:
“When I decided that I wanted to pursue dentistry, my wife Natalie and I sat down and discussed how my dream of becoming a dentist would impact our future life. She was fully supportive of my decision at that time and (nearly 20 years later) she still fully supports my aspirations. She plays such an integral role in my decision making process and we were equally excited for the opportunity for me to join Community Dental Partners. In my opinion, there is nothing more important in life than a spouse that shows unwavering support while also being unafraid to be uncomfortably honest with their partner. I try each and every day to be as selfless and supportive as her.”
“Coming out of dental school was very exciting but also very nerve-wracking. My husband and I are both from Idaho, where all our family still lives. It took time and patience to decide a good fit for my husband’s career and our four kids. Was it back by family or somewhere new? We explored many options. Texas seemed to be drawing us in! We’d never really been to Texas before!– Michelle Hepworth
After my husband met with Dr. Copeland and the CDP executive team, we decided this would be a great place for us. We made the move to Texas about six years ago for this opportunity. Since then, we have had great experiences with the CDP executive team. They are eager to get to know the doctors and their families. As a dentist’s spouse, I can say that it’s not always easy, but it is still very rewarding. Communication and complete transparency between the dentist and their spouse is vital, and we validate each other in our roles.
Community Dental Partners has a great support center and executive team that cares for their families. When we go on doctor retreats each year, it is like a big family reunion. Everyone is so kind and excited to get to know not just the doctors but also the spouses. I am happy to say that we came as “employees,” but we are now “friends/family.” “
Your Spouse May Need Support, Too
As you start your job search, ask if your spouse or life partner has any questions for your potential employers. Are there any aspects of your job or working life they’re curious about or areas they’re concerned about that could lead to conflict down the line?
As much as you want to ace your dental interview, you’ll also want to ensure the employer is a great match for your needs and those of your spouse. In addition to your own questions, consider bringing a few from your partner as well. This will not only help ensure a great match for both of you but also prevent your spouse from feeling left out of your employment process. The more included they feel in your work life from the beginning, the more likely they are to feel comfortable and enthusiastic about your new dental job.
Beyond just hearing their concerns and including them where possible in your dental job search, be aware that your spouse may need support as well. Showing support for their career strengthens your bond and demonstrates your dedication to their passions. As mentioned above, their career opportunities may factor directly into your dental job search. Likewise, open up to them by talking about your day and confiding in them when you’re having a tough time. This can help keep them from feeling left out of this huge part of your life.
At CDP, we want you to have a satisfying career. However, we also want you to have a rich life outside of work, including your spouse and family. That’s why we recommend including your spouse in your dental job search. Schedule a call with a Recruiting Manager to find out how CDP can help you live your best life, both in and out of work!