Dentist: Thomas Strub
DR. THOMAS J.
1. Why did you choose to become a dentist?
I was interested in a profession where I could develop long-lasting relationships with people and make a significant positive difference in peoples’ lives. I also wanted a profession that I could use my skills as a leader, a visionary and my visual creativity and dexterity skills.
2. What is your typical work day like?
I get to the office about 6:00 a.m. and review patient records for the day. At about 7:15 I have a team huddle where all the team members review our daily patient schedule. I treat patients from 7:30 to 5:00, with an hour for lunch where I complete charts and do lab work, and wrap up the day with end-of-day paperwork or lab work and head home by about 6:00 p.m. It also involves community organization board meetings many nights. We see patients Monday through Thursday. Friday is my day to do paperwork, lab work and team prep time.
3. What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?
The most rewarding part is to have a positive change in a patient’s life, be it seeing improved hygiene skills, great cosmetic changes or personal growth by the patient that we contributed to. Also its rewarding to wear a lot of different hats as you are a CEO, financial adviser, engineer, artist, counselor, visionary, problem solver and mentor. Most challenging is the responsibility that comes from being a change agent and constantly functioning at your peak level to exceed patient expectations. It’s also a challenge to inspire, motivate and lead an exceptional team of health professionals.
4. What is the biggest myth or misconception about your career or field?
That you can make a lot of money and a difference in a patients life with little effort, little commitment or without pouring yourself into your work. Healthcare is a very intense, very time-consuming profession, but very rewarding if preformed within your value system for the benefit of others.
5. What steps did you take in high school and college to help prepare you for your career?
I shadowed my family dentist for three hours a day during my last semester in high school. I maintained close contact with my family dentist and used him as a mentor throughout my schooling. I also got involved in many community activities to develop my leadership skills. And finally I viewed school and classes as a way to learn, grow as an individual and constantly develop new skills, not just a necessary evil to get through.
6. What did you find difficult during your career preparation? How did you overcome these obstacles?
I found it difficult to put in the time that it required, especially in college, while friends who had less intense majors could seemingly be less committed to their careers.
7. What do you see as the strengths and skills needed to succeed in your career?
A strong desire to help others, be it your other team members or your patients. Being a constant student wherever you are in your career journey. Have strong values that you do not compromise. Leadership skills. Very good hand-eye coordination. Ability to change as your profession changes or as you change personally. The desire to push yourself to constantly do your best and improve on that best level.
8. What advice would you offer to students interested in pursuing a career as a dentist?
It’s a great profession. I would make sure that you find a dentist who would be willing to be your mentor and learn as much about the profession as you can ahead of time so you know you have made a rewarding career decision for yourself and that you will have few surprises about what is ahead for you.