S3 E09: A Guide to Your Next Big Career Move

Relocating? license portability confusion? What you need to know before your next career move.

Dental Sound Bites Season 3 Episode 9 with Dr. Tannaz Malekzadeh

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Episode notes

Whether you're in job search mode or looking to start fresh, learn how to manage the big challenges like relocating your practice, your license and your life. What you need to know before you make your next career move.

Special Guests: Dr. Tannaz Malekzadeh, and Dr. Kafi Charles

“There's so many different avenues to get yourself networked. And that first job probably will not be your only and last job.”

Dental Sound Bites Season 3 Episode 9 with Dr. Tannaz Malekzadeh

- Dr. Malekzadeh

Show Notes

  • In this episode of Dental Sound Bites, if you're in job searching mode, or looking to start fresh with your career, you will learn how to manage the big challenges ahead, like relocating your practice, your license, and your life.
  • Today’s featured guest, Dr. Tannaz Malek, a periodontist practicing in Arizona, joins us to share what you need to know before you make your next career move.
  • But first, the hosts share insight into how topics are picked for Dental Sound Bites episodes. If listeners are interested in connecting with our team to share ideas for future episodes, they can connect via the ADA’s social media channels.
  • Dr. Malek shares her early career journey, and how her experiences looking for work, and creative solutions to find a job, led her to lecture on this topic.
  • The group confides that some of the best advice for people looking for their first job, or even switching jobs, is to create their own opportunities, be resourceful, have a portfolio of your work, and to keep an open mind.
  • Dr. Kafi Charles, our special guest this episode, shares her story of finding work in a new state, and what she wishes someone had told her before she moved from New York to Florida.
  • The best advice Dr. Malek received was this– apply for a license in every state you think you may apply to work.
  • When it comes to licensure portability, where does one start? Your first step should be to check with the state dental board in the state where you are moving to. Make sure to reach out to them and look at what the specific licensure requirements are.
  • Another helpful resource is the ADA’s dental licensure maps available online. You can find that link in the show resources below.
  • And the most important resource is the board of dentistry in the state you are looking to move to. And don't forget to contact the state dental association in the new state early on to start making connections and ask questions.
  • As a final thought, the group shares what they wish they would have known or done differently back when looking for that first job, or moving to a new state.


View episode transcript

Ioannidou: [00:00:00] Today, we have good advice for those of you who may be in job searching mode or are looking to start fresh. Hello, everybody. I'm Dr. Effie Ioannidou.

Wright: [00:00:10] Hey, I'm Dr. ArNelle Wright, and we have advice to help you manage the big challenges like relocating, your practice, your license, and your life. What you need to know before you make your next career move is coming up.

Announcer: [00:00:25] From the American Dental Association, this is Dental Sound Bites, created for dentists by dentists. Ready? Let's dive right into real talk on Dentistry's Daily Wins and Sticky Situations.

Wright: [00:00:41] Before we start today, I want to share a little bit of insight into how we pick the topics for these episodes. Before each season starts, our team reaches out to dentists, just like you, and asks them to share what's keeping them up at night. You can share your ideas by connecting on social media via the American Dental Association Instagram or TikTok channels.

Ioannidou: [00:01:03] Yes, moving and relocating is one of the topics many of you told us you struggle with. So I'm so excited for this episode because our guest today is someone who really knows this very well and who I know well too. Dr. Tannaz Malek gave a talk to my residents when I was at UConn, like, a year ago about how to navigate the job search and relocate to a different state.

She was really amazing. She was actually brilliant. So welcome Dr. Malek. Welcome Tannaz.

Malek: [00:01:32] Thank you.

Wright: [00:01:33] UCONN in the building I see.

Malek: [00:01:34] Well represented indeed.

Wright: [00:01:37] So Dr. Malek, can you tell us a little bit about who you are, where you practice? Give us all of the juice.

Malek: [00:01:44] So I'm a periodontist, and I will throw that in that I'm a board certified periodontist. And I practice in Glendale, Arizona. I'm originally from Los Angeles, originally from Southern California. That's where I did my undergrad. Went to Connecticut for dental school, stayed there for residency. So I was there for seven years, and then I moved to Arizona. And I've been here now 18 years.

Ioannidou: [00:02:08] Tannaz, how did you come to lecture about relocation and about your moving and share your story, at the time with the residents, but now with us?

Malek: [00:02:16] Finding a job is a little bit tricky, especially if you're a specialist, but also for the general dentist as well. I was in Connecticut, which was the complete opposite coast of where my family was. And I had always the intention of moving back to California, moving back to Los Angeles, and being with my family. That was the goal. So, to practice in California, I needed to get my California dental license. 

Well, I tried. And I tried twice. And both times, for various reasons, I didn't get my dental license in California. So I said, okay, here's Arizona, close by, and a lot of friends that I had had that were at UConn that had moved to Arizona were doing very well, were very happy. And I said, okay, let me, let me move to Arizona. They have a reciprocity with California. After a few years, I'll get my license in California and then I'll move back to California, right?

Because the whole goal is get to California,

Ioannidou: [00:03:13] The California dream.

Malek: [00:03:15] California dream. One periodontal practice that was hiring that had put an ad in the ADA Journal, the JADA. I contacted them. I went out, interviewed, looked amazing, and I lasted there maybe two days. And it's not that I quit. It's that I didn't have anything on my schedule anymore. My schedule was empty. And I had just moved. I had loans. I had, I needed money to survive. I need a job, right? Who in their right mind would think, you just went through seven years of dental education and you don't have a job? And you can't find a job. That was never told to me, or even brought up to me, that that would be a possibility.

So, the original job that I had, I thought would work out, did not. So I had to get resourceful. When you graduate, instrument companies give you a pretty significant discount to buy instruments. So I contacted one of the instrument companies and I purchased enough instruments for four surgical kits. And I, again, looked at the back of that journal and I found GPs that were looking for associates.

And I would call them and I would say, I know you're looking for a GP, but I'm a periodontist. I could come to your practice and do your periodontal specialty work one day a week. And I have all my instruments, I just need an assistant. And I had two offices take me up on this. I was basically a periodontist for hire. I went in, did their work.

And then there were a few, again, a couple of corporations that I contacted and they didn't need a periodontist, but I sort of told them they should have one. And I got a job with two of them. One day a week here, one day a week there. And the dental school was new in Arizona. It had just opened up. They were starting their clinic. They had no faculty. Hire me. And so I had one day a week at the dental school teaching.

Ioannidou: [00:05:07] I want to point out that how, you said resourceful, but I would say creative too. You don't learn this in dental school. Nobody taught you this. Nobody taught you that if you are found jobless in a condo in Arizona, this is what you have to do. Number one. Number two, the flow chart of what are the right options for you or the opportunities? What are the doors you might need to knock? Nobody teaches you this.

Wright: [00:05:30] Like a decision tree. Nobody gives you a decision tree at all.

Malek: [00:05:34] Yeah, nobody teaches you this. So I had that avenue going and then I found volunteer opportunities. So I started working, at the time it was called Central Arizona Shelter Services. It was, and it still is, an amazing free dental clinic for the homeless population in Arizona. So I went down there one day a month and I volunteered my periodontal services to the homeless population. And I met many very influential dentists in the Arizona community.

I had no idea I was meeting them. I had no idea who these people were. I just knew I had nothing to do. I needed to meet people and make friends. I knew nobody in Arizona. I had no family here. I was all alone and I've got to make this happen. Or I'm going to move to California with no job, no dental license and live in my parents garage. That was not an option.

Then there's study groups. I found study groups and I said, okay, I'm going to join all these different study groups to network. Let me go show my face, let them know that I exist.

I did one more thing. And this was the golden ticket. The American Academy of Perio has a directory. Like a phone book. And in that directory is the year that the periodontist graduated. So I calculated, and I said everybody over the age of 60 in the Phoenix metro area will probably be looking for somebody to give work to because, you know, they want to retire, they want to sell, they want to slow down. And I mailed telling them, you know, who I am, my cover letter and my resume. One periodontist calls me and says, Hey, I'm not looking for an associate, but I am looking to sell my practice due to health reasons. I need to sell my practice.

I'm like, I don't even have, I don't even have five cents. How am I buying a practice? I can't even tell the bank. I have no prospects. Like, really? So, my brother is a periodontist in Long Beach, California. He says, you know, you have nothing to do. Go, he'll pay for your lunch, see the office, and at least, you know, get the experience.

And I did that. I did not know what I was looking at. I didn't know anything about equipment. I didn't know about charts. I didn't know about referrals. I didn't know about practice valuation. It looked like a dental office to me. It had files, you know, there was a woman sitting at the front. It looked like, it looked great. That's all I knew.

So I borrowed the money from my mom and I was there for three years. And then I saved enough money, paid back my mother. And then I moved the practice. I bought the land, built the structure. I never made it back to California. As you can see, the story was get back to California.

I did get my California license though. That was very important to me. I still maintain it. I hope to never use it, but I have it. And to anybody sort of starting out, it's not an easy transition to make.

Wright: [00:08:40] Tannaz, when you say the transition, is that coming out of dental school, coming out of residency, buying a practice, or just kind of getting, entering into the dental profession altogether?

Malek: [00:08:50] I think trying to find a job somewhere that you don't have any contacts. Somewhere that you are brand new, you just moved there, you don't know anybody. You've got to now introduce yourself to the dental population that you're with, right? So join your local ADA chapters, like we have the AZDA, join them. They have new member groups. They have study clubs. They have all these resources. Volunteer. There's so many different avenues to get yourself networked. And that first job probably will not be your only and last job.

Ioannidou: [00:09:23] What strikes me is the positivity. Things happen. It was not what you were expecting. And it was the fact, okay, that's it now. Let's find the opportunities.

Malek: [00:09:34] And even if you were to move to, say, a very saturated city, such as Los Angeles or New York, but there's still so many opportunities. There's still so much need.

Wright: [00:09:45] And fast forward to today's society, I bet we have some new dentists out there listening. Like, what advice would you have for anybody looking for their first job? Just considering maybe our listening community, how people do things today and maybe some of the students that you interact with and maybe mentor right now on campus.

Malek: [00:10:07] I would just simply say to those who are watching who are new or who are coming out or who are wondering, create your own opportunities. Stay open, be resourceful. Show the office what you're going to bring. Not like you're walking in saying, Hey, I'm this, I'm that. But maybe you're going to be saying that on your resume. How many all on fours you've done, how many molar endos you've done, photos of your beautiful anterior veneers, like a portfolio of sorts. 

Ioannidou: [00:10:36] Yeah. That's so important. I mean, I think it's really important to know how to present yourself and also how to stay positive and capitalize on the opportunities that are in front of you. And sometimes they are not, like, screaming at you. You have to search a little bit.

Wright: [00:10:49] Yeah. Yeah. Or just wait for the sky to fall. And I think one thing that I love that you said, Dr. Malek, is having a portfolio. I don't think that enough people document or just kind of keep track of what they've done over time. Even if it's something that they're not as proud of that they want to showcase, but the lesson or the Learn that they can take from having that experience too, you know what I mean? So I think that that's something really, really good. That's a gem for everybody out there.

Malek: [00:11:17] And there's no bad opportunities. Places that you think are awful. You're going to learn a lot from it. You know, some of those places I worked at, I don't work there anymore, thank goodness. But I still learned a lot, right? It's still an experience.

Wright: [00:11:33] We'll be back.

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Ioannidou: [00:12:32] Today, we have good advice for those of you who may be in job searching mode or are looking to start fresh.

Wright: [00:12:39] Thank you so much for being here with us, Tannaz.

Malek: [00:12:41] My pleasure.

Ioannidou: [00:12:42] There are so many issues when you move states, right? We are going to hear from Dr. Kafi Charles, who was actually one of the dentists who asked us to do this episode and is here to share her experience moving to a new state for work and what she learned.

Charles: [00:12:58] Hi, my name is Dr. Kafi Charles, and I currently practice in South Florida, originally from New York. And I recently moved down here because, actually, funny story, my whole family lives in South Florida. I was the only one left in New York, you know, true New Yorkers never want to leave. And my best friend actually lives up the block from me now in South Florida, and she got me a job offer. So, I came down to see the office, loved it, we clicked immediately, and they offered me the job.

Now comes, obviously, the hard part. My job in New York was my first job out of residency. So now that I've secured the job, now the whole issue now is trying to figure out how to leave. Florida, unfortunately, not like New York, they want you to jump through so many hoops just to get a license down here. So, not only did I have to, you know, end off things at my New York job, telling my boss that I'm leaving and all my staff, but I also had to procure a Florida license.

Florida license also has a timeline when it's not your first license. So that means you have to time everything properly. For example, if you got your license this month, you have to work within the state of Florida within 1200 hours within a year of getting that license. So, unless you're planning to start working right away, you shouldn't immediately apply for the license.

But then on the other hand, to start your job and to get a job, you kind of need the Florida license. So, it's like a catch 22, I guess, in that sense. The transition was a little rocky in terms of the timing with getting the license, figuring out when to move, getting an apartment, and all those things. But eventually, we got them, got the license, and we moved. The biggest shocker when I moved, however, was I thought my start date was gonna be, like, immediate. Like, I moved in July, I thought I was gonna start working in August. That was not the case. Credentialing took forever. And when I say forever, I mean, like, they started credentialing in May, and credentialing finished in November.

That's a very long time. And there's one guy processing the license for the entire state of Florida. So when you call or email, it's him and he answers the phone and you talk to him. And so like, we all know him on a first name basis because you're just like, I'm confused and he's just like. This is what they mean. They're like, okay, I'll call you back. Thank you for always answering the phone. So plan ahead. That's like my one advice for if you're relocating. Being close to my family and my friend is invaluable. I love my new job. I love my staff. So it wasn't a bad move. I just wish I knew about all these things in between to probably time the move better.

I may have stayed in New York a little longer and then came down. And I always said that I wish we had a class in dental school that would explain state licensures and those little loopholes because it's not standardized across the U.S. So I feel like we need if you can get a class or even just ask people before you graduate. Like, potential states you're going to move to be like, hey, how do you get this license? What is the transition period for this? How does credentialing work in your state? So I would say planning ahead for the possibility of you not starting work right away. And then also financially plan for those lulls in your career.

Wright: [00:16:15] I think that's really, really good. It's all about the planning. Like planning, knowing ahead, the timing, thinking about this out loud, maybe even going over it with someone. Would you say so to Dr. Malek?

Malek: [00:16:28] Yeah. Oh, for sure. She had mentioned she had a friend. Guidance. So I think just being able to create a game plan ultimately is what you're doing. A checklist.

Ioannidou: [00:16:38] Yep. I mean, I can tell you that I'm still working on the California license.

Wright: [00:16:42] You're going through it.

Ioannidou: [00:16:43] My start day was August 1st and I still don't have a license. Because the things that you have to do, going back and forth, fingerprinting, for example. And let me tell you something. Let me break the news. You think that you're done with fingerprinting, but then you submit the fingerprinting and it's not as good as they wanted it. You have to take an exam about the ethics in the state of California. So there are so many aspects in the licensure as Dr. Kafi pointed out, Tannaz pointed out. There are so many differences between the states and I wish you could take your license and you can practice anywhere like physicians do. They just apply, but they don't have all these little nuances that we have in dentistry. Additional exams. This. That. Boards. Oh gosh, so difficult.

Malek: [00:17:33] Yeah, and you have to go back to your exams. You have to find, you know, they want your exam scores. What exam? My eye exam? I gotta send you my dental exam?

Wright: [00:17:43] Yeah. Wow. Well, I haven't been in that situation yet because I am in the state of Florida and I only have practiced in Florida. So lucky for me, I haven't had to go through that, but I will definitely be keeping this in mind.

Malek: [00:17:57] You know, one word of advice that I got, and I think about this often, or when I'm in these situations. I was told, Hey, when you are applying for your dental license, you know, when you're finished dental school and you're applying for your dental license, apply for every license. In every state you think you may work.

Wright: That's a good piece of advice.

Malek: Get it now. So you think you may work in New Mexico, get that license. You think you're going to maybe work in Nevada, get that license.

Wright: [00:18:23] You know, the problem with that though, is back to the dream job. If people think that they are walking into their dream job, they may kind of just set their sights only on that. And they may not even try to pursue anything else. But I love that. It sounds to me, what I'm hearing is also keep your options open because you never know. Keep your options open. So I think that's really, really good perspective.

Ioannidou: [00:18:45] Keep the options open and keep your mind open because you cannot predict the future. You don't know. So, yeah, I agree with what you're saying and it's very practical. The moment you graduate and you have all the paper with the transcripts, everything is fresh, you won't be looking for it because it's here in front of you. So just do it now. Do it now.

So where do you start? The steps that you, you know, say that you want to tackle licensure portability. So, how do we do this? The first step that we have to do is to check the state dental board, right? In the state where you are moving to. And, and I like your advice. You can be moving, you know, explore the possibilities of many states. So make sure that you reach out to them. You look at the website and you look exactly at the specific licensure requirements. And these differ from state to state. This is really very important.

Malek: [00:19:37] It also differs for specialists in some states.

Ioannidou: [00:19:40] Yeah. Good point.

Malek: [00:19:41] Being an endodontist in Alaska is going to be different than being a GP in Alaska.

Ioannidou: That's right. Very good point. Another helpful place to find information about this is to go to the ADA resources. And actually I did visit the ADA.org licensure maps. And you can find a lot of information tailored to the state that you want to move in. Actually, I use the ADA resources to study for the ethics exam.

Wright: [00:20:06] There you go.

Ioannidou: [00:20:07] Yeah, that's really good.

Wright: [00:20:08] But one thing that we do want all of our listeners to know as well is that in the end, the be all end all, is the Board of Dentistry, as we've alluded to earlier in the episode. And it's in that state to which you're trying to move.

One other thing that we want to share with all of our listeners is that we don't want you to forget to contact the state dental association that's in that new state very, very early on. So back to that planning, back to that timing perspective that we shared. And make those connections. Ask the questions. The earlier that you can start the better, because this process, as you already have heard, it can be very, very time consuming. And it can also make you want to give up and not do anything at all.

So with that being said, we are so excited to have this information, like, at our fingertips.

Ioannidou: [00:20:58] And if, you know, it's really important also to think about, if you're looking as Tannaz said earlier, at the time, 20 years ago, the internet was not as robust. I like the adjective. So, but now you have this in your fingers, right?

So if you're trying to find an associateship or you're trying to buy a practice, check out the ADA Practice Transitions. We talk about this in our previous season, right? In the season two, we did this episode with episode six with Dr. Wu, who discussed very nicely the service that is provided by the ADA through the ADA Practice Transition. So I think this is a really very important resource. And we include the link to that episode in the show notes. 

Wright: [00:21:45] So what do you all wish you had known before you started looking for your job or moved for work?

Ioannidou: [00:21:51] You go first girl.

Wright: [00:21:52] Yeah. Okay. Sure. Yeah. So honestly, before starting for work, mine isn't really about licensure or anything like that.

I really wish that I had the confidence to purchase a practice from the very, very beginning, or even in the first two years of being out. I know that sounds very strange, but I've always been very, very organized and very good with systems, very good with streamlining processes. And that's one of my natural strengths. And I feel like from a practice management perspective, like I didn't know what I didn't know. And then I just felt like I just needed to be carried by someone or just with someone. When, yes, you know, you do still need your mentorship. But I wish that I had had the confidence to go out and practice or look for someone, kind of like what you described Tannaz, looking in the back of the yellow pages or in the back of the JADA and finding someone who was on their way out.

But I just didn't have that mindset at that time. I thought that, you know, Oh, you, the steps are. You need to work for someone, or you need to work with someone, and then maybe in 10 years you will be deserving. So that's really something that I think about all the time. I would change if I could.

Ioannidou: [00:23:13] I would say that for me, looking back and thinking about the beginning of everything, it reminded me a lot of what Tannaz said about her first job, the word of mouth. And then, you know, there was no contract, there were no terms, you just went there and you worked.

Wright: [00:23:27] Yeah. That's not heard of these days. People want everything in writing.

Ioannidou: [00:23:30] Absolutely true. So I would say that if I, when I go back to those first days where I took my first faculty job, I never negotiated. They gave me a salary. I was happy to get a job. But also there were no resources as they are now. Like now it's in the tip of your fingers. You can go to the ADA salary, faculty salary survey, and you can see how people are paid, the assistant professor level in different states in the country. So you have a comparative, right? If you are creative and if you are smart, you can really have a comparative. At the time it was not like this. So I would definitely do this differently.

What about you, Tannaz?

Malek: [00:24:06] There's really nothing that I would change or do differently because everything you go through is another learning experience and I wouldn't want anything different than what I experienced, or the struggles that I went through, or the path I would have to carve by myself. Still in dental school, you have to be resourceful and creative if you want those big cases.

If you want those beautiful cases in dental school, you got to go make it happen. So if you're in dental school, do that, figure that out. Because that's going to be the rest of your life. You've got to make those opportunities happen. And I think those are just valuable lessons that we have to do as dentists.

Ioannidou: [00:24:48] That's really a nice closing. I really like this. I, you know, how you have to be alert and really create your own opportunities and do this. So I love this.

Wright: [00:24:57] Yes.

Announcer: [00:24:59] On the next Dental Sound Bites

Wright: [00:25:01] Dental Sound Bites is taking a short break to gear up for season four.

Ioannidou: [00:25:06] It's going to be absolutely epic. And we want to hear from you, share your thoughts, ideas, dream topics, and guests with us by sending us a message on the ADA social channels.

Wright: [00:25:17] That's Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok.

Ioannidou: [00:25:20] Meanwhile. Be sure to catch up on past episodes and seasons and subscribe for all those good pearls of wisdom. And there is a lot of wisdom.

Wright: [00:25:30] Listen to us on ADA.org/podcast or anywhere you listen to podcasts. Season four is coming soon.

Ioannidou: [00:25:37] Stay tuned, people.

Thank you, Tannaz. It was amazing.

Wright: [00:25:43] Such a good episode.

Ioannidou: [00:25:44] We enjoyed it. Very useful episode, I think, for us and for our listeners, young and older.

Wright: [00:25:50] Absolutely. This was so good. Thank you so much for joining us here on Dental Sound Bites, Tannaz.

Malek: [00:25:56] Thanks, ladies. My pleasure.

Ioannidou: [00:25:57] And tell us if our listeners want to find you. Where can they find you? And I love your posting. You're like Arnel. You guys are very active on Instagram.

Malek: [00:26:05] Thank you. My Instagram is @MalekPeriodontics. So you can follow me on Instagram. I have a Facebook and TikTok. It's all @MalekPeriodontics. You'll see a collection of periodontics. You'll see a collection of my dogs. Yeah. Sums me up.

Wright: [00:26:22] All right.

Ioannidou: [00:26:23] And if you like this episode, share it with your friends, then be sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever you're listening so you can get the latest episodes.

Wright: [00:26:32] You can also rate it, write a review and follow us on social media. And don't forget the conversation continues on the ADA Member App. Catch all the exclusive bonus content and everything you didn't hear on the show. Goodbye.

Ioannidou: [00:26:45] Goodbye.

Announcer: [00:26:48] Dental Sound Bites is an American Dental Association podcast. Learn more at ADA. org/podcast.