My patient was escorted to our urgent care clinic wearing an ankle monitor. Her chief complaint was that she felt pain around every tooth. When I took a closer look, the source of her pain became apparent. She had a mouth full of non-functional root tips. Almost every root tip showed signs of infection. My patient was from a local drug rehabilitation center, and she was 10 months sober from a heroin addiction. As a result, she wasn’t allowed any prescription narcotics or nitrous oxide, as instructed by her program due to fear of relapse.
In this edition of Let’s Talk, Christian Pearson, national director of dental partnerships at Treloar & Heisel, Inc., continues the conversation with Stephen Trutter, director of consulting and partner at Ideal Practices, as they discuss what students and new dentists can do now to prepare for private practice ownership.
Think back to your personal statement for dental school. What did you say in it? My bet is that you mentioned something about your desire to help people. About how you knew a dentist somewhere who helped someone in a way that only a dentist could. About how that experience planted in you a desire to do the same thing. That one day, you hoped to be a dentist who not only did that for every one of your patients but also for the world! OK, so maybe you said it with more tact or with less drama, but I have read enough prospective student personal statements to know that a good number of applicants include that to some extent. Now imagine if that dream came true.
With changes in the marketplace, building a dental practice from the ground up has sparked interest for many new doctors. Though risky, the personal and financial rewards can be plentiful and attainable. While advisors have historically championed buying into practices to take advantage of cash flow and income to tackle student loan debt and begin accumulating wealth, what we’ve seen is that there are fewer practices on the market and more competition for the ones that do hit the market. We see baby boomers working and keeping their practices longer, leaving new dentists with a tighter market to begin practicing.
I considered writing this post about obtaining the ideal associateship. I quickly realized, though, that “ideal” is misleading and different for everyone. Our goal should be a successful associateship — one that creates success for both the associate and the practice. This looks different across the board, but in my experience in several different environments, the following have been keys to success — or causes of failure.
Going into dentistry was one of the greatest choices I’ve made, and I want every dental student to know they’ve chosen a rewarding profession in which they’re likely to succeed. For me, dentistry was the plan since childhood. Although I didn’t understand what being a dentist entailed back then, I remember thinking, “I could be a good dentist.” Fast forward about 15 years, and I was in dental school — and it was harder than I expected.
You think you are finished. After surviving your classes and practicals and passing boards, you prepare for graduation and then you realize you have yet to figure out what exactly you’re supposed to do next. That was me in summer 2016. I had been so consumed with my school work and extracurricular activities that I neglected the reason why I came to school — to get a job.