A dental job can be a rewarding career pathway if you’re up to it, but it can also be competitive to the point that it’s not always easy to build a practice from the get-go. At Doccupations, you can simply sign up, create a profile and start to find your dream dental job. Its founders, Dr. Ivy Peltz and Dr. Eric Studley had each led fruitful careers in dentistry before joining forces when they were in their 50s to start their own company. In this episode, they talk to Dr. Richard Marn about several topics, including getting into dental school, the struggles of dental school mentorship, being a woman in dentistry, achieving additional degrees, being an entrepreneur and starting a new company. There is so much that of value that you’re going to take away from this episode, no matter where you are now in your dental journey!
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Doccupations – Taking Dentists To Their Dream Dental Job With Ivy Peltz, DDS, MSEd, PhD, & Eric Studley, DDS
This episode is unique, at least for me, for this show. The first aspect that’s unique is that I’m going to be interviewing two guests at the same time. The second part that’s unique is that the format follows the order format of my original episodes and so has a different feel to it than maybe some of the more current or newer episodes. What’s great about this episode is how you’ll see how these two professionals use their degree to open up all these other opportunities for them. They had each taken a long winding road to get where they are. Along the way, they have worn multiple hats professionally, earned multiple degrees and awards.
My guests on this episode are Dr. Ivy Peltz, a dentist and Dr. Eric Studley, also a dentist. Their bios and resumes are thick and I don’t think I could cover everything in the brief amount of time that I have with you. I do want to note certain accolades that stand out. My first guest, Dr. Ivy Peltz, received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at the University of Albany and she then got a Dental degree at NYU. She also has a Master of Science degree in Education from Baruch College and later in her career received a PhD degree in Higher Education from NYU. For decades, she was the Educational Coordinator for the NYU College of Dentistry. She’s received a number of awards, written many articles especially in coordination with her partner, Dr. Eric Studley, and has mentored hundreds of dental students through the years.
My other and second guest is Dr. Eric Studley. At Adelphi University, he got a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, started his dental degree at University in Guadalajara and then completed his Dental degree at NYU. As with Dr. Ivy Peltz, he also worked at NYU College of Dentistry as an Associate Professor and during that time was a Director of Ergonomics. He is also the CEO of a successful insurance brokerage company for several years, was and is the number one disability producer for Guardian Insurance. Also like Dr. Ivy Peltz, he has tons of local, national and international awards with a special emphasis for Dr. Studley in disability. A lot of awards through Guardian Insurance. He has been a speaker for insurance as well as Risk and Practice Management especially for dentists. Same with Dr. Ivy Peltz is a highly ethical blogger and writer.
Several years ago, when they were in their 50s, they joined forces and founded together Doccupations, which is a company similar to eharmony but for dental jobs. There’s a lot to take in from this episode. We’re going to be talking about not only getting into dental school, the struggles that dental school mentorship, being a woman in dentistry, achieving additional degrees, like a PhD beyond a DDS degree. Finding a second or third wind, like being a disability insurance agent or being an entrepreneur and finding and starting a new company. In the end, you’re going to take away something of value in this episode. Let’s jump into it.
I want to say that it’s one of the most important things that we get to for a number of reasons. One is most young people feel that when they’re selecting a career, they’re making a decision that’s going to impact them for the rest of their lives. Not all of us have that singularity of dedication to go to one place, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I became a dentist because I ran out of choices in my head and someone said, “Why don’t you be a dentist?” I said, “Okay.”
This is when you were a high school student?
That’s my true story. That’s exactly what happened. I’m started preparing for the DATs. I went to dental school, I didn’t know what any of it meant. I had been a patient in a dental office twice a year for my life. That’s all it meant to me.
How did that come about? How did that idea come into your head? You graduated from dental school in the 1980s.
Were there a lot of women interested in dentistry back then?
I was 1 of 30 women in a class of 210. I was raised in a family where gender didn’t matter. We were taught from early on that we can do anything we wanted to do. The fact that it was a profession that had few females didn’t matter to me the slightest.
How did that opportunity even pop into your mind?
I was in college, I went to SUNY in Albany and I was hanging out with people. It was the end of the junior year. You had to make a decision by then. What were you going to do when you graduate? You had to make a decision eventually. I was a Psychology major, I had taken all the science courses necessary to go in any direction that I wanted. I also loved literature and English courses. I liked everything. It was hard for me to pick a direction because any of the directions would have been good. One day at the right second, another college student said, “Why don’t you be a dentist?” I said, “Okay.”
A college student is suggesting your career choice.
I don’t even remember who it was.Teaching something makes you learn it, but if you don’t have any passion, you shouldn’t be teaching. Click To Tweet
You went with it.
It worked. I became a dentist. I can’t say that at that time, I was happy with that decision. I loved going to dental school. Once I got out, I felt insecure as a new dentist. That was hard for me. It took going back to teaching to make me love dentistry.
You did not love it for a long time.
I didn’t love it for ten years. I wasn’t unhappy but I wasn’t thrilled. After five years, I started feeling more confident and I didn’t dislike it anymore but it took ten years for me to love it. That was the result of teaching. Number one, teaching something makes you learn it. Number two, if you don’t have any passion, you shouldn’t be teaching. Where I didn’t have passion, I had to develop a passion.
This leads me to your Master’s degree in Education. When did that happen? Was that right after the Dental degree?
No. I started teaching. Both of us are firm believers in lifelong learning. At the same time that I was working on a Master’s in Higher Education Administration, I was also working on a Master’s in the Academy of General Dentistry. I was working in two directions and I got both. That was after I started teaching. I wanted to challenge myself in the dental arena, as always. I also felt now I’m teaching but I have no certification as a teacher. I’m from a world of certification, where to be a dentist, you have to be licensed and you have to pass board exams. Now I’m teaching people. That’s a responsibility too and I have no formal training in that. I wanted some formal training.
When you finished dental school, you went straight into private practice. I know you had six jobs.
I had six jobs in my first year, which is common for new dentists. It’s not as common anymore.
A little bit less simply because of the corporate so they’re signing people up more on a full-time basis thing.
When we graduated, we found a job mainly by word of mouth or you had to walk from office to office and try to meet people. It was much easier to altogether a few part-time jobs. It was typical to start with one thing and we then take another or have a few at the same time. In my first year, I had six different jobs. I found a job that I enjoy in private practice. I stayed there for four years. I started my own practice.
The interesting thing to me about you Ivy is you got a PhD in Higher Education in your 40s.
I was 56. I’m not good with dates but it may have been 2015, which would have made me 58.
Here’s someone who’s a professional. There were good dentists. By the way, I have mentioned in your bio about you have all these awards and responsibilities. You were even in charge of education at NYU for a number of years. Here, you decide you want to go and get a PhD degree in Education. I had another interview, someone told me that they’re their physician but they’d love to get a PhD. I could sense that it’s a lot of time to do that. It’s hard to do that when you allow responsibilities. Why did you do that?
I was living in the world of academia. When you’re in academics, those degrees count. When I started pursuing a PhD, I would say there were two reasons. One was this desire to move up in my world, which requires a higher degree and a PhD.
Even at 56?
Yes. I knew I wanted it. I also love being a student. I like studying. I enjoy the challenge of it. I like taking exams. I’m a weirdo. It’s a place where I feel comfortable. I like being in the classroom. Father’s accomplishments were totally a driving force. My father got a Master’s, PhD and then became a high school principal. At age 55, he got a Law degree and became a lawyer. He still practices. He’s starting practice now. A PhD is the highest degree that you can have. My DDS, who cares about it?
I sit down at dinner and I’m the lonely DDS.
You have the least number of initials after your name.
I have to use my middle name.
Eric, how did you get started in dentistry? I don’t think we ever talked about this.
From 10, 11, 12 years old, I wanted to be a doctor.
Any type of doctor?
Any type of doctor. It was like, “I want to be a doctor.” It was in elementary school. Remember the autograph books that used to sign. They were called autograph books and you didn’t have them. Friends would sign and then you’d write down what you want to be when you finish high school and everything. Mine from sixth grade on was always a doctor and it was a brain surgeon. I wanted to be a brain surgeon. In our family, nobody was from college. My brothers, my cousins, we were the first group that were all going to college. I had an older cousin that was going to med school. I looked up to him, as far as going to be a doctor. It can happen for us kind of thing. The school was literally the way to do it. That was drummed in even though my parents weren’t college-educated.
I don’t know if my dad eventually graduated from high school. Education was important but it was more important. For my brother and I, there were three of us. Two of us thought education was our ticket. It was as simple as that. It was our ticket out. Working throughout my grades, we were always top in the class but my science grades were not good. I was an A-plus student and everything, be in somewhere in there on the sciences. By the time I was in my senior year of high school, I determined I won’t have the grades for that. I went into business and I was taking college AP classes in high school towards business. I got a scholarship to Adelphi. I was either going to Queens College or whoever gave me money, that was going to be my alma mater.
That’s good that you got a scholarship.
It helped. I lived at home. Ivy was like, “Didn’t you want to go away?” We didn’t even know that you can go away. Believe me, I would have gone away. Trust me. My older brother didn’t go. He went to Queens College. I was going to go to Queens College. It was like $32 a credit back then.
There’s a lot of history in your family staying nearby. I know your mom was a strong influence on you.
Everybody stayed close, even later on. I always said even after I graduated, I had a restrictive covenant for my mother how far I can work from her. I couldn’t go into Jersey. I had gotten accepted to Adelphi going with a business major. While in high school. I also had a minor in Art and Languages. With art, I would sculpture with anything.
You were into sculpturing?
Yes. Your garbage, I could turn it into something.With titles come responsibilities. Click To Tweet
What do you work with, clay or stuff you find?
I made jewelry. I set stones. I made crazy sculptures out of spoons, hubcaps, garbage, whatever it was. This was the ‘70s. What I also did was on the weekends, I would then take my jewelry and sell it at all the beauty parlors. That’s how I got into that. When my younger brother was getting his braces taken off, they were using silver wire back then. I tell them, “When they take the braces off, tell them I want the wire.” This orthodontist calls the house and says, “Why don’t you come in? I want to see your stuff.” I bring in my jewelry stuff.
He knows you’re using this extra wire but he still wants to meet you and see what you’re doing.
I come in, I show him my jewelry, some of my sculptures. He’s like, “You have great manual dexterity,” which I had to look up because I wasn’t sure if it was a dental disease or something. He said, “What are you going to in college?” I said, “Business. Accounting.” He said, “You should be a dentist.” I was like, “My grades in science.” He goes, “What’s your average?” I’m like, “Ninety-eight.” He goes, “You can learn, you could study.” I literally went home, I called Adelphi. I switched to pre-med. I say, “Could I switch my major and still get the scholarship?” They were like, “Sure.” I became pre-med, pre-dental.” I always wanted to go that route. I just needed somebody to say, “You can do it. Don’t worry about what’s on the paper and stuff like that. Go for it.” I graduated from Adelphi. I applied to dental school. Unlike Ivy, I didn’t have that path. I didn’t get accepted. I applied all over the country. I got one interview.
Where was it?
NYU. They told me, “Thank you, but no thank you. Maybe come back next year.” I was working full-time. I was a bartender.
They’re saying no. Tons of schools were saying no to you but you were still like, “I’m going to try to go for it.”
When I left NYU, I said, “Thank you. I’ll see you next year.” I remember the dean of admissions said to me, “Why are you thanking me?” I was like, “Now I know what I have to do.” She’s like, “I’m not accepting you.” I said, “You’ll see me.”
You did not?
No, I was like, “I will be.” I applied again the following year, I got an interview this time at Tulsa, Oklahoma, Oral Roberts University. I also got an interview with NYU again. I go to my Oral Roberts interview and that didn’t go well. I think they made a mistake interviewing me in my demographics. It was quite obvious.
Was that uncomfortable?
For them because I don’t think they ever saw someone from where I’m from. I’m not sure. I go to my interview at NYU. It’s the same dean of admissions and this time she’s like, “You were here last year.” I was like, “Yes.” She goes, “What are you doing here now? You’re still not accepted. You don’t have what it takes.”
She denied it two times now.
Two times, the same person. Once again, I said to her, “Thank you. I will definitely see you again.” I left there, I applied out of the country. I went to dental school in Guadalajara, Mexico, for two years.
You got accepted to dental school in Mexico. Before you even got there, how did you not lose track of your goal?
I was looking much further down, way down further in my life, not tomorrow. It’s like, “I’m going to do this.” First of all, I had to do it because the other alternatives were not great, not being a professional. I didn’t want to have that hustle type of job. I wanted the feel of a professional. I had worked parking cars at a country club for three years through high school and a little bit of college. I used to ask all these people, “What do you do for a living?” “I’m a dentist,” “I’m a doctor,” or “I’m a lawyer.” “I’m a CPA.” It was like, “I can be a doctor or a lawyer or CPA. I’m going to have one of those license plates.” They weren’t any smarter than me. I don’t think they work any harder, however long it took. It took me six years to get my dental degree. I got a career. I never had a job. I had a job through college, whatever but I haven’t had a job since because I’ve had a career.
What were you doing differently during those two years or so that allowed you to eventually get into NYU from the University of Guadalajara?
Every year, while I was in Guadalajara, I kept applying back to NYU. They had a picture of me like it was posted. I send the picture in every application. I was totally the repeat offender. At that time, you would hear that maybe somebody wouldn’t take acceptance, like bail out two days before class starts. Georgetown used to come down to Mexico and interview us. Sometimes a couple of people for openings. The second year that I was in dental school there, NYU had a number of openings. I got a call on a Friday night. I had already started my next semester. I’m in Mexico, I get a call Friday night, “Are you still interested?” I thought it was a prank call. I was like, “Of course.” They’re like, “We’d like to accept you. Can you be here Monday?” “Sure. Not a problem.” “Can you come up with,” I forgot how much money. I was like, “Not a problem.”
It wasn’t a problem because there was no way I can come up with the money. It was going to be their problem, at least initially. I had a car down to Mexico, I sold my car. I sold a part of my house because I shared it with four people. I didn’t tell my parents, and I left. I showed up at their house at 2:00 in the morning on a Sunday. I wake up my parents. I tell my mother, I was like, “Ma, I got accepted to NYU.” Richard, I’m not making this up. My mother, typical, what does she say? “That’s nice but we can’t afford that.” I was like, “Ma, I’ve got loans.” That was my thing. That was my foray through dental school.
After you finished dental school, did you start working as a dentist immediately on your own?
I also had 5 or 6 jobs. I dwindled it down to one. I only worked for people for eleven months and then I bought my office.
When did you start teaching NYU then?
The day after graduation. I started immediately a day a week. First, it was a volunteer position. They didn’t pay me. The following year, I got a raise to $70 a month. It’s costing me more if I ate but I always taught from day one. Same with Ivy, I didn’t learn enough in dental school. There was more to learn. I learned the basics. I did well but I had to be an expert. What we learned from graduating, I learned pretty much everything, all of modern dentistry, after graduation. We graduated, I didn’t learn implants until after graduation.
Most of what exists now did not exist when we graduated from dental school. If we hadn’t kept up with continuing education, which was easy in a dental school, if we hadn’t done that, we’d be practicing what we learned back in ‘83.
Everything that we had to teach the students, we had to learn first, how great was that? We got to constantly reinforce this, when you’re now teaching and you’re reinforcing, it’s reinforcing it back to yourself. For me, teaching right off the bat and then being in private practice, I matured ten years in one year because you’re getting so much responsibility. I told myself I’m not the kind that sits back. As different opportunities started at the school, I took advantage of them, developing the practice management course. I developed 70 of our business curriculum at the school that I was the director of. I was also a director like Ivy of the clinics. I also taught Ergonomics.
What is that?
Ergonomics is the improper way that you’re sitting while you’re speaking to us.
It’s creating an environment that allows you to work most efficiently and effectively. Every posture, exercise.
Lighting, your flow of the office. That’s a whole thing you ever see. The people, they do like, “My office, it’s Feng Shui. It’s set up like in a flowing or a pattern.”
It also needed to flow with the procedures so that you’re not clenching your body to get things and everything makes sense.It’s always important to identify why you’re doing what you’re doing. Click To Tweet
When you guys finished dental school, both your mindset, was it the idea that you were going to be a dentist for the rest of your life and that was what you’re going to do? Did you guys have other ideas beyond dentistry?
I had two things in mind. Number one that I had to be a teacher. I started teaching in my senior year. I was already being groomed in my last year to start teaching in the clinics. Normally, they would put you up on bench labs and stuff. I knew that I was going to stay attached to the academics but also when I graduated, I had a huge business plan. My plan was to own 10, 12, 15 practices. That’s why eleven months out of school, I already bought a large multi chair at a comprehensive practice at every specialty under the sun. This is in the early ‘80s. Before certain things happened in my life, I was already negotiating the next space in another city. That’s where I was heading. That was my plan. Business and then the business of dentistry.
What happened? You’re doing a lot different in a few years after that.
We make plans and God laughs. He had a good laugh. During my career, I would say almost ten years in, I started having problems with my hands and ended up having to go through 12, 14 different surgeries over a 2 to 3-year period. I had stopped practicing.
How many years after dental school is this?
Probably upwards of about ten.
For the record, I know you were athletic back then. Working out and running.
I had run three marathons, training every single day when I was in dental school in Mexico. I was a middleweight boxing champ at the dental school, not to the other dentists out. That would have been easy. This was the university. Somebody once said, “You fought other dentists?”
You want to protect your hands. They can’t be jabbing you too badly.
It was everybody, this was a fair bout. Unfortunately, I had to stop practicing. It was that bad. I sold the practice. I was always teaching. At that point, I was able to get promoted to assistant professor. They gave me three days a week. It’s not financially able to raise a family, to live especially in New York. I had to find another outlet. With my dental training, I thought I’d have many more opportunities whether with pharmaceuticals, dental companies. I found that I didn’t. Either they felt that after they would train me, I couldn’t earn enough, I’d leave, or I would be bored in the position because I’m used to being in charge. Now I’m going to be 1 of 800 kind of thing. I was having difficulties with my own insurance policy. It was suggested why don’t I go and do insurance, which is something that I hated.
By the way, it’s different.
It’s an opportunity and how I could be different. I went back out on the licensing, I’d spent another three years working for different insurance companies while I was also getting promoted at the dental school. Eventually, I ended up opening my own insurance brokerage company. We built a nice nationally based insurance company that specializes in healthcare professionals. My way of being able to still tie in dentistry. Prior to retiring, I then became a full-time director, associate professor and I was able to work on everything and finish well.
To review, Ivy, you have a DDS degree, MS degree, PhD. You’re in private practice, an educator. Also, we didn’t talk about much but you’re a frequent speaker. You are an Associate Professor at NYU. You are the Education Director-Coordinator at NYU dental school for many years with numerous awards locally and nationally and published numerous articles and blog posts. With Eric, you also got a DDS degree, you are an associate professor at NYU, a Director of Ergonomics, CEO of a brokerage company that we talked about for insurance. Also, you are the number one or are the number one disability producer of Guardian, tons of Guardian awards. Even a disability Quality Award and Life Insurance Quality Award from the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. That’s an independent company organization. You’re an educator, speaker for risk management and insurance especially geared for dentists. A blogger, writer with numerous awards. When someone asks you what you do and they don’t know you, what do you tell them?
I usually say I’m an educator but I most strongly identify as a dentist, to tell you the truth.
What about you, Eric?
Most of the time because sometimes also looking at this, it’s like, “What is this? What does this do?” I say, not to sound corny, “I help people.” I leave it at that. It’s funny at the beginning, when I first started doing the insurance, more than I was doing the dentistry and when I had to stop practicing, people ask me what I’m doing, I would say, “I’m a dentist and I sell insurance.”
It doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?
Exactly. When I became comfortable and now when people would say, it was like, “I’m in insurance brokerage. I’m a retired dentist.” Especially if you have to do the crossroads of changing careers. You’ve been identified when you’re a dentist or physician, you get that title. It’s Dr. Richard, Dr. Ivy, Dr. Eric. Now you’re still doing something as important. It’s in finances or anything but if you don’t have that doctor, you almost feel like, “Do I still have that same importance?” That took me more time. Once you get that doctor, the white coat ceremony, you put that coat on. We grew up watching Marcus Welby, MD put on that coat, the doctor is here. I parked cars at the country club, “Get the doctor’s car.” I never heard them say, “Get the insurance guy’s car. Get the guy who owns 800 pizza restaurants. Get his car.” It was only, “Get the doctor’s car.” You get trained to that.
For me, it’s the reverse because along with the title comes responsibility. Depending on the setting, I don’t always want to be subject to the responsibility of saying the dentist or whatever. I’d rather have people think I’m a teacher and leave it at that. As we get to know each other, I can decide how much to divulge. It’s different approaches.
You guys are in your 50s, you started Doccupations which is like eharmony for dental jobs. Is there another way to describe it in more detail?
That’s it. We are an online algorithmic dental job matching service. We take dental employers or dental jobs and we match them with the employees that they’re looking for, as you described. The participants, on both sides, fill out a profile and our algorithm matches them up together.
You’re mentoring, you’re advising, you came up with this basic startup company?
What happened was every year, we had students graduating and they had no clue how to look for a dental job. It wasn’t part of what they were taught or had ever experienced. Until he started teaching, he would tell them some students, not all, didn’t go to class. On the insurance side, he was getting requests all the time from employers, dental practice owners who needed new associates or dental hygienists and dental assistants. It seemed like this was a big void in our industry.
I started posting. “I need a young periodontist for work.” We would throw out, “Dr. Smith in Manhattan is looking for a PO.” I send it out to my clients. Let them put it together. It creates a business, creates a community. I was doing it for a while. At a certain point, I had more jobs posted than the ADA. I get approached by this lovely young woman who says, “Why don’t we do this formally?” I was only working 90 hours a week at that point.
I had read a newspaper article about somebody who did something like that for college students graduating. I thought, “This is exactly what we need in this profession.” Everybody doesn’t know where to go to find each other. This is a way to find each other.
You try to solve a problem, which is what entrepreneurs do. For the younger generation, the pre-health, are there any particular things you advise them about or keep in mind? In the decision-making process of becoming a dentist, for example?
I think so. One of the first things that I think of is, “Why are you doing what you’re doing? Who are you doing it for? Are you doing it for you? Are you doing it for your parents? Is it a road that you’re on because somebody else thinks you should be on it?” That might be okay. Not there’s no good or bad here. It’s important to identify why you’re doing what you’re doing. After all of our years of teaching, I would say that as a regular rule, the students who were not succeeding are not succeeding because they were there for the wrong reasons. They weren’t there because they wanted to be there. They were there because they were expected to be there for one reason or another. Before you start, that’s important to decipher because it’s highly related to failure.
Also, if they’re looking for the right mentor and they should start and it should start at night school. I know I was volunteering in high school at the hospital on Fridays. I was in the medical clinic, dental clinic. They always take these volunteers. I already started to get the feel of it. I started to go to the family dentist in the evening and say, “Can I come in and see some of your stuff?” Dentists love that because it also makes the patient feel like, “You’re teaching. That’s good.” They need to throw themselves in because I’ve also seen some high school students who thought they would love this. Afterward, it’s like, “It’s not for me. I thought it was going to be a certain another way.”
It’s the same thing when I did an externship with Peto. Peto was my calling. In my first semester in general scores, Peto, I knew that I did not want to be a periodontist at all. It was two differences, the reality, and it wasn’t for me but it was great that I got to have that experience. These kids should experience it because they rush too fast to solidify. They choose majors quickly, they are these things. If you’re going to go to dental school, volunteer at the hospitals. All the hospitals have hospital residencies, dental residencies, they love these kids that come in. What a great experience and they could see. I also talked to people, residents who are not that much older than them, maybe only 8 or nine years older, as opposed to some of us mentors who are like 40 years older. They get to connect with somebody in the trenches.Every step that you take is leads you somewhere. If you are self-motivated, wherever it’s taking you is going to be somewhere good. Click To Tweet
You’ve seen hundreds, maybe thousands of dental students come through over the years. Are there particular skills that allow some students to be more successful than others?
Yes. The two skills. Everyone would imagine that I’m going to say hand skills. No. That certainly helps. It’s hard to do anything without it. However, communication skills and organizational skills are the two most important keys to success in dental school. I can’t decide which is first. Poor communicators, it’s difficult for them to relate to patients, relate to their peers, relate to their faculty and they often get in their own way. Organizational skills, if you’re not organized, it’s much more challenging because there’s a lot of material and you have to be organized to get through it to learn it properly. The daily schedule can be rigorous as well.
You guys have been through a lot of different changes in your career. If you could go back, was there anything you would do differently?
I know that I probably would have practiced differently. I would have paid a lot more attention to my body. I graduated, came out of the block working 21 days a month without a day off. I took care of all my dental instruments, I didn’t take care of the main instrument, the guy that held all those instruments. You think that you have a certain type of invincibility that you don’t expect to. Random marathons and boxing, this is not me kind of thing. Now I’m also teaching Ergonomics and Practice Management, I would have realized that I still would have reached my financial goals if I would have practiced a little differently, a little more downtime. That’s where I use school. The school was my downtime from practicing. When I first started and then there were any days off that I would have taken now at school.
As someone who sells insurance, how do you convince someone who’s young to get insurance? What do you tell them? You’re in the risk management occupation. Young people don’t worry about that as much.
The unfortunate thing they’re like, “Nothing could ever happen.” I hate to use myself as the story. There are times somebody says, “I think I heard that this is what happened to you.” It’s like, “Yes.” I do it similar to you go and get a car, you can’t leave the dealership without insurance. A piece of metal that is worth less as soon as you insure it, whereas you get your dental diploma, the minute you walk out of the building, you are worth more. You are now a greater asset and how not to think about insuring your greatest asset. As long as it’s explained properly, the benefits of what insurance is, then it’s understandable. Also being a dentist. What I say is if you explain to a patient and they don’t understand, what do they then say? “Alright, now forget about it.” No, it’s no different with us. Once we’re out of our comfort zone and we don’t understand something, I could still give you an answer. “No.” That’ll work. It’s in anything. Dentistry, insurance, unimportant. If you could explain to the person, they’ll trust you. They’ll see the value of it.
I still remember that when I graduated from dental school. I absolutely felt the need to have disability insurance. I was terrified about the possibility that I might not be able to work for any period of time and I had these loans to pay off. Dental school is expensive. If you become a dentist, you will not have trouble paying those loans. It’s a good, financially lucrative profession to go into. If you don’t become a dentist, it’s like a home mortgage. To not get disability insurance was a terrifying prospect for me because you’re walking down the street and anything could happen. You’re out there. Dentistry is dependent on your physical wellness. You have to be well to practice dentistry.
I think I also have faculty that you will get disability. When I was graduating, you’re going to get that then others too. It was like nine million people told me, “You’re getting that, you have to get that. I got that I got life insurance. That became now being a professional. Now I stepped in, as a professional, professionals get disability insurance, they get life insurance because you have their malpractice insurance. It comes with the worksheet of being a professional.
What if you don’t have a six-figure career? Are you still recommending disability and life insurance for people like that? What would you tell people who don’t necessarily make the six-figure job?
I was speaking to a client who might have had the option to increase their policy at a certain point but unfortunately didn’t. Now is on claim and collecting. The first thing that I hear, “I wish.” Everybody wishes they did. Insurance, I have a ton of it. You have a ton of it. Ivy has a ton of it. I hope it’s our biggest waste of money. You have car insurance. You say, “We didn’t use it. You didn’t have an accident? This stinks.” Your malpractice insurance, “We didn’t get sued. This policy is a waste of money.” Thank you for being a professional. That’s what it is. Disability.
It doesn’t matter what you’re earning, you need to earn it to live in the style that you’re accustomed to or to pay your bills. Without it, you’re going to struggle. Not so much again, with corporate dentistry, things are a little bit different now. Most dentists are employed by themselves. Even if they work for another dentist, they’re called independent contractors and they’re responsible. They don’t have to sell stuff.
If something happens to them, no paycheck.
If you don’t know that when you’re in dental school, you realize that once you get out, it’s foolhardy not to have insurance to insure yourself. I wanted to do it in dental school because the debt is accruing. What if you go skiing, you hurt your hand, you break your wrist? We’ve had students who were in bike accidents right after they finished and lost the use of an arm. You can’t practice like that. It’s one of the things that you have to do, as Eric was saying, as a professional.
How do people find out more about your careers as a resource? Go to the ADA as a dentist?
As far as learning about dentists?
Yes, they want to learn more if you’re a high school student and a college student.
The ADA is the primary source for sure. There’s a whole student’s section, I believe.
They want them to connect with them. Also, a lot of dental schools have programs. I know NYU had a program I was involved in on the weekends. Brand new students would come in, we’d let them take out impressions.
We also had a mentoring program where we had high school students come in so they can call the dental schools if they’re interested and see if they have any mentoring programs or if they’re allowed.
Ivy and I used to have a volunteer program, the cutest ever and she’s graduating this year from the group. I get maybe a call or an email, I don’t even remember, way back when. It was the cutest little letter. She’s like, “I’m fourteen years old. I want to be a dentist. I heard you have a volunteer program. Can I come in and volunteer?” I’m like, “This is so cute but I cannot. She’s fourteen. You had to be eighteen or older,” but I couldn’t squash her because that would have destroyed her. I said, “Why don’t you come in with a parent and I’ll let you spend the morning?”
Anyway, we arranged it. She comes in. Her father took off from work so that his daughter could spend the morning with me. Everybody is working in this family. It was not like he owns his own business. This skinny little girl is the cutest thing. I put a coat on her, bulky gloves, the mask hanging off her face. She traveled to the clinic with me for 2.5 hours.
Is this in NYU?
Yes. She ends up going to Bronx Science. She’s a smart girl. She got into the seven-year program at NYU. I hadn’t met or seen her again in years. She was this little thing. All of a sudden this 5’11” woman, “Dr. Studley, don’t you remember me?” I’m like, “No, I don’t.” She tells me she was Ivy’s student from ‘14 and now she’s graduating in 2020. How great is that?
You got her on the right path.
If I didn’t let this kid in, she would have said, “Dentists aren’t nice.” They have to find the right ones. They connect with the right people. They could end up loving the career.
Ivy, we were talking about how you guys have a lot of different hats and such. Do you guys have any last-minute thoughts about where you are in your career and how you got here? Especially when you were talking to high school students and college students.
It’s important to remember when you’re making these decisions that feel weighty and important and they’re going to impact your entire life. To realize that because you’re on one path, it doesn’t mean it’s not going to veer off into others. I didn’t get a chance to answer you earlier when you asked if I would do anything differently. No, I wouldn’t. I believe that every step that I took was necessary to get to the next step that I took in my life and I have wound up in a happy place. I’ve enjoyed immensely my long career and there’s nothing that I would want to change. I think everything was meant to be exactly the way that it was.
That’s another thing that I’ve often told students who feel like there have been some major disappointments such as maybe they applied for the match program for a residency and they didn’t get the one they thought. It always works out for the best. I don’t know how but it does. They come back the following year. They’re like, “You were right because it was right for me.” Maybe it’s because whatever you get is what you get. If you have a certain disposition, you’re going to make the best of it no matter what. The bottom line of it is that every step that you take is leading you somewhere. If you are the right self-motivated person, wherever it’s taking you is going to be somewhere good. It may not feel good at the moment but it’s going to get good. That’s what’s important to keep in mind.
I would have to say what I’ve been saying to all my clients when the pandemic started in the second week of March 2020. Everybody started quarantine. It’s the first time that affected professionals, physicians, dentists. We never heard of dentists closing down and being unemployed. The insurance companies were scrambling like, “How are we going to handle this?” They’re not paying policies. It was such a major craziness but most importantly, constantly, my pep talks with all these young dentists and even older dentists and saying, “Thank God we don’t have jobs.”
Many people are losing their jobs. A dentist, physician, you didn’t lose your job. We closed for a while. Do you know that vacation that you wanted? You didn’t want it this long and you didn’t save yet for it. You didn’t prepare for the downtime after but we started this with, “I planned and He laughs.” It shows because now, economically, dentistry is being used as the economic barometer for the growth of the economy. When these dentists are like, “This is the worst thing ever.” It’s like, “Really? Why?” Why are they using dentistry for the growth of the economy? Not a little sector. This is the number and dentists have reopened. It’s coming back. I can only say, “Your best job security is having a career.” It is. Once you have a career, look what she’s done, look what I’ve done, where this career took me. It still comes back to the same circle.Education is never a waste. Click To Tweet
It gives you a lot more flexibility.
No time was wasted. I couldn’t practice for 100 years. I still took dentistry in another way. I took my depth of knowledge of the healthcare professional in another way. It still always worked with the same thing. No time was wasted. I could not have made it to this if I didn’t have that.
Education was important for her early on.
That’s always the ticket out.
Education is never a waste. We talked about half my age when I got my PhD. I can tell you that from a professional standpoint, I never did anything with it. Most people, including the department where I got my PhD, would be appalled. They didn’t even want to accept me at my age because that was exactly what they were afraid of that I would get this degree and maybe not necessarily make any contribution with it. I’ve made contributions. I learned how to write when I was in that program. Now we write. We have a wellness column for the Academy of General Dentistry. That comes out quarterly, our wellness column. There are plenty of ways that I’m giving back with the information that I got. Everyone may not understand the links of exactly what it took, which education contributed to which output.
It’s not linear all the time.
It’s always with you and it’s never a waste.
Eric and Ivy, thanks for participating in this conversation. I appreciate it. Thank you.
That’s our show. Thanks for reading. To learn more about our guests or other past guests, check out my website HealthCareersWithDrMarn.com or HCWithDrMarn.com. If you like what you read then please go to my website. Add your name and email to my email list. That way, you can get the latest announcements and news as they arise. You can also find me on Instagram at @DrRichardMarn. Thank you and I’ll catch you on the next episode.
About Dr. Ivy Peltz
Dr. Peltz is an experienced and accomplished dentist treating her patients in New York City. Dr. Peltz graduated from New York University College of Dentistry in 1983, and currently serves there as a Group Practice Director and clinical associate professor.
She is a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, the Pierre Fauchard Academy and the American College of Dentists, and a master in the Academy of General Dentistry.
About Dr. Eric Studley
Dr. Eric S. Studley is licensed to offer insurance products and specializes in the insurance planning needs of Healthcare Professionals.
A renowned speaker in the Dental Community, Dr. Studley has lectured throughout the country on the subjects of Ethics, Insurance Planning, Case Acceptance, Ergonomics, Risk and Practice Management.