How to resign from a dental practice and when to move on?

Through: Jennifer Murphy, DDS, FAGD

You’ve been working in an office for a while and things just aren’t going the way you imagined or promised. What are you doing now?

First of all, let’s recognize that this is never an easy position to be in. There is also no right or wrong answer, just what is best for you.

I even said that to the staff when they did their cancellation. Most of the time I feel sorry for them to go, but I realize everyone should do what’s best for them. Often it has nothing to do with the office itself.

Is it time to move on?

Maybe let’s start there. Really think about what it is that isn’t working and why you think it’s time to move on.

It can be as simple as realizing that you want to become an owner and buy your own practice, which is not an option where you currently work. Or it could be more complicated because you feel unappreciated, not busy enough, or feel like it just doesn’t suit you.

I will say that in some cases it can be well worth having some conversations about your concerns and what will and will not work for you. Offer solutions when you do and don’t just complain.

The owner doc may not have a clue how you are feeling, so it helps to try and show your perspective. It also helps if you have ideas that can improve things, not only for yourself, but also for the office.

If you do, and nothing changes or isn’t listened to, you probably have your answer. It’s time to go, and time to move on.

How to resign as an employee?

First of all, you need to know what is in your contract. Usually there is a 30 to 90 day notice period in an associated contract. It is wise to stick to what is in your contract and to be professional during this process. The dental community is small and you don’t want to burn bridges.

Second, you have to give your actual notice. If you decide it’s time to move on, it’s usually best to do it sooner rather than later.

Do not panic. This can be very terrifying. But I’ll tell you, it’s usually bigger in your head than it really is.

Write a resignation letter

Usually I typed, printed, signed and gave a simple letter to the owner and sometimes a copy to the PPS, depending on the situation. I suggest doing this in person and at a time when there are no distractions. It might be wise to ask the owner some time in advance, essentially scheduling a meeting.

Once you hand them your letter of resignation, they can ask you some questions. Be brief and positive are the two best words I can recommend to follow when answering those questions. My experience is that it is usually a short conversation. However, every circumstance is a little different and I’ve had an owner who didn’t even talk to me about my departure!

Keep it simple when making your report. In your written resignation and what you say, this is a situation where less is more. If you’ve decided to go, now is not the time to voice your grievances. Thank them for the opportunity.

Also, keep it simple in your resignation letter. Indicate the date on which you will leave. You don’t have to get into the why, where you’re going, or any future plans for that matter.

Be professional

Usually when you give your message it’s one of those things at the beginning where it’s a “big deal”. Everyone finds out that you are leaving feeling sad or expressing their concerns, opinions and feelings, but usually the writing is on the wall when you leave. The staff see it and know you’ve been unhappy and they aren’t too surprised. They may say they don’t like it or don’t want you to leave, but remember, you have to do what’s best for you. After a few days the “hub-bub” is over and they are looking for someone else, etc.

Again, I cannot stress that it is best to stay professional. My first job outside of school I’ve had both owners try to hire me again! I had left because my circumstances changed and I had a long journey – so they understood and it wasn’t a big deal at all. The dental community is small, people talk, so you don’t want to burn bridges and stay in a positive light, even if you don’t feel very positive or may not even be treated properly.

Remember “this too shall pass” and going through these experiences will not only make you a better, stronger dentist, but also a person.

Next one: Buying a dental practice

photo by SHVETS production

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