The Career Doctor™

by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez

Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers? Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of your own, use the anonymous , and she might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here. Contact in ation is here.


Dear Career Doctor:

I'm a dentist from Colombia. I love and enjoy my profession. I am 39 years old and in order to get my dentist license here is USA I will have to take dental studies all over again. I am talking about 6 years of studying! Is this realistic and worthy at my age?

Maria Toves

Dear Dr. Toves:

I was shocked to find out that you are absolutely correct: to take the dental licensing exam, you have to go through dental school again! Even more ridiculous, you could not even take the licensing exam to be a dental hygienist unless you took the one or two year course in the US for that! It seems unreasonable of New York State to require this of you -- but those are the facts.

Should you retrain to become a dentist here? The answer depends on how much you love being a dentist and whether you could be satisfied in some other related field. Here are some things to consider when making that decision:

Given your knowledge of the field, you could probably get a job running a dental practice -- supervising support staff, booking appointments and billing. The pay might be pretty good at a large practice. But could you be happy just doing this?

If you would not be happy unless you worked directly with patients, you could take a one or two year course and be a dental hygienist. Sure you would be overqualified, but you could earn $40 an hour and deal with patients. How would you feel about that?

Another possibility is to use your science training to become a teacher. There is a tremendous need for science teachers in our middle and high schools. You might be able to be hired, even without any further training, in a private or parochial school to teach science. For higher pay and better benefits, you could get a Masters and teach in the public school system. (New York City has a Teaching Fellows program that will employ you while you get your Masters. And the fact that you speak Spanish should be a big plus.)

However, if none of these options will make you happy and you will feel cheated or resentful if you can not practice as a dentist, then I would look into retraining -- but before you start a program, check on their track record for finding employment for graduates in their forties.

The Career Doctor



The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.

Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.

For more in ation go to