The Start of My Dental Career Working With People and Improving Their Health June 2019
In a galaxy far, far away — but maybe not that long ago — I found myself graduating from dental school. I was thrust into the world with plenty of knowledge about the mouth and oral health, but very little about staring up my own practice. Even so, I knew where I wanted to go and what I wanted to accomplish. Before I decided I wanted to become a dentist, my first career choice was chemistry. For a long time, I worked as a med tech in a research lab. It was my time working there that made me realize I wanted to be a dentist. I enjoyed the medical practice, but I didn’t like what the doctors and surgeons did. I realized that what I liked most about my time there was working with the patients who came in, but my current career was significantly lacking in human connections. I saw dentistry as a way to improve people’s health and also make more personal connections. I constantly work with families, and I’ve even had the opportunity to watch some of my patients grow up. When they walk into my office, it’s a lot more than them coming in for regular cleaning. I can treat great- grandmothers, grandmothers, mothers, and daughters
all in one day, and I’m always excited to see them on their next visit. But it’s not a one-way street; if I ask them about how their kids are doing, they’ll ask me about my son and want to learn what he’s been up to as well. We’re creating relationships every day, and that’s incredible! When I first opened my practice, I started from absolute zero. I didn’t have any patients to talk to or to work on and found myself sitting in a dental chair throughout the day waiting for people to ring or to come through the doors. At that time, I didn’t know how to schedule future appointments, how to incorporate insurance for my patients, or anything else besides what I had learned in dental school. The first patient I ever treated was a man who had come walking into my office before I had even officially opened it. I was in casual cleaning clothes, doing some last minute touch-ups for my opening day. He walked straight in, saw me, and told me he had a toothache. I told him “Well, I’m a dentist. Just let me wash my hands, and I can take a look.” I’d barely been out of school for three months, with no idea how to run my practice, and I was looking into his mouth and cleaning his teeth for him. It was an interesting start to what would eventually be a gratifying career. Starting my practice might have been difficult, but even through the rough times, I knew what I wanted to accomplish. I wanted my practice to be a combination of the two most important aspects of my life: people and health care. At SouthWindsor Smiles, our entire basis is whole body health, not just a focus on oral health. Dentistry will always be the career path for me. In the 40 years that I’ve been a dentist, I have never had a more satisfying experience; I love working with my patients and staff and helping our patients achieve a healthy lifestyle.
–Dr. Kevin Norige
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