The rising cost of higher education in America has caused the rate of college debt to soar. Americans are saddled with $1.56 trillion in student loan debt, much of which lasts long after their college experience. One in four Americans have student loans, and an estimated 44 million people are paying nearly $400 a month on this debt.
Dental school is no different. Take Dr. Brian Nguyen. Faced with a staggering $500,000 debt as a new graduate from Midwestern University’s College of Dental Medicine-Arizona in 2017, he didn’t see how he could ever climb this half million-dollar mountain.
I met Nguyen through my role as cofounder and executive coach at the Scottsdale Leadership & Coaching Center. He was eager to learn the dental side of the business, and I was eager to teach him so he could build a future for himself in the dental industry.
Here are the top three lessons I taught him that I learned while building more than 20 successful dental practices in the Tucson and Scottsdale, Arizona, area.
Grow Your Network
Building connections with others who have been on your journey can provide you with an invaluable opportunity to better prepare for your career goals. Meet with those in your industry, have lunch or coffee, and go to conferences. Listen. Also, feel comfortable with asking to be introduced to others in your field. I connected Nguyen with another practice in Tucson, where he was hired as an associate.
Reframe How You Think About Debt
The money you paid your educator was an investment. So, stop thinking about it as debt. I encouraged Nguyen to frame the debt as a part of his success journey—and one day, one payment at a time, he would know success. I reminded him that debt also brought income possibilities he would have moving forward. Voila! With that mindset, debt becomes transformed into investment.
Hone Your Skills
What made Nguyen a successful student—diligence, hard work—can make him a successful dentist. I advised him to continue honing these traits so he can be successful in the world of business and healthcare. There are no quick fixes or “get rich quick” schemes in the real world. You must put the time in to build your reputation in the marketplace.
Today, Nguyen is still enjoying his associate position, making one payment at a time to reconcile his debt, and becoming established in his field. Someday, he hopes to build a business like I did and share his stories with others beginning their journey.
Dr. Hymovitch grew his Tucson- and Phoenix-based practices into more than 20 offices, making it the largest endodontic/oral surgery practice in the southwestern United States. As cofounder of the Scottsdale Leadership & Coaching Center, he is a certified executive coach who enjoys helping fellow business owners in the United States and Canada scale their businesses to help more people and build their balance sheets. He earned his MBA from Arizona State University, DDS from McGill University, and root canal specialty degree from Tufts University. His book, The Dentist Who Gets It: The No-BS Blueprint for Success, was released in spring 2019.