How to Successfully Network in Dental and Medical School and Why it Matters

Posted by Lilac Paper on

Here’s a Lilac Paper Pro Tip: Use networking to your advantage.

I'm not exaggerating when I say I got into residency because I networked and hung out with the anesthesiologists. True story. –Rachel

In case you’re not familiar with the term “networking,” it’s the socially savvy act of increasing your connections and building rapport with the people around you, near and far. Essentially, you’re marketing yourself by highlighting your skills, talents, and who you are as a person. Make a positive impression with your network and they’ll be more likely to remember you when they’re in the market for someone with your skills. (i.e. “Oh yeah, I highly recommend Dr. Smith as your endodontist. Quality work and excellent bedside manner.”)

The road to becoming a doctor or dentist is paved with textbooks, late nights, and relentless dedication. Amidst all this, don't neglect to network. In other words, don't forget to build relationships with people. Building strong connections is a game-changer for your future career.

Why Network?

  • To Land that Dream Residency/Job: The medical and dental fields are competitive. Residency programs and coveted jobs often come down to more than just grades. Having a network of professionals who know your work ethic and passion will give you a significant edge. A good word from a respected mentor can be the tipping point on your application.
  • To Find Mentorship and Guidance: As you navigate the complexities of your chosen field, having a mentor to lean on is invaluable. Networking allows you to connect with experienced professionals who can offer career advice, answer your questions, and provide insights you won't necessarily find in a textbook.
  • To Stay Informed and Up-to-Date: The medical and dental fields are constantly evolving. By connecting with colleagues at conferences, through professional organizations, or even online forums, you'll gain access to the latest advancements, research, and industry trends, keeping you ahead of the curve.
  • To Build Your Professional Reputation: As you network and build relationships, your name and skills gain recognition. This leads to exciting opportunities down the line, from referrals to collaborations with key people related to–and in–your line of work 

How to Start Building Your Network:

  • Don't be Shy - Introduce Yourself: Talk to professors, attend department events, and strike up conversations with residents or dentists you shadow. Let them know about your career goals and interests. Be assertive, kind, and humble.
  • Join Professional Organizations: Get involved in student chapters of dental or medical associations. Attend conferences and workshops to connect with professionals in your field.
  • Utilize Online Platforms: LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for connecting with professionals. Build your profile, join relevant groups, and participate in discussions.
  • Focus on Building Relationships: Learn to ask thoughtful, open-ended questions. These are often questions that start with "how," "why," and "what if." Open ended questions keep the conversation flowing and promote longer discussions. Be genuine, ask insightful questions, and be a good listener. This all leaves a positive and lasting impression. Dentistry is a lot about networking to get referrals and have a good rapport with specialists.

Bonus: Some of the people you meet in dental school will be your life long friends. (You might even start a business called Lilac Paper together. Lol.)

Remember: Networking is a two-way street. Be courteous to your classmates and superiors and they're more likely to extend a hand to you in the future. (You help them, they help you.) Offer your help and support to the people in your network. Don't just take from them.

By building strong, mutually beneficial relationships, you'll be well on your way to a successful and fulfilling career in dentistry or medicine. Start building your network today and watch as it becomes a bridge to the future you want.

We believe in you. You can achieve your goals. With a bit of networking. ;)

- Team Lilac

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