We are quite fortunate that dentistry is still largely owned by dentists. When we look to our cousins in other branches of health care, we quickly see how rare it is to be able to provide care for patients and simultaneously lead the way in which that care is delivered. If it is a privilege to own our businesses, then why do so many seem to think of it as a burden?
I lecture frequently to dental students and I'm amazed that so many of them believe their student debt burden will prevent them from moving forward with their lives, obtaining a loan for a practice acquisition or start-up, or starting to invest for retirement. Ryan Brengman, JD, and regular columnist Brian Hufford, CPA, CFP, both have written articles that should help our youngest members of the profession view that debt as an opportunity.
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And while I'm on the debt subject, there is a vocal minority of dentists who think that student debt is caused by irresponsible millennials who have a poor work ethic and just like to spend money. Christian Piers, DDS, MFA, the immediate past-president of the American Student Dental Association, wrote a brilliant piece this month that will silence that rather offensive and uninformed opinion.
Even without debt, dentists can let other factors strip away the joy of ownership. Quite a few dentists today are upset that they aren't as busy as they used to be. If you fall into that category, I think you'll enjoy the article by Salvatore Lotardo, DDS, AAACD. He proudly proclaims that the fee-for-service business model is not dead and shares his strategies for growth.
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So if you've been in an ownership slump lately, I hope this issue helps rekindle your entrepreneurial spirit. I love speaking with dentists about their ideas for innovative practice models, simple systems for office efficiency, and bold (and ethical) marketing initiatives. Their energy is contagious. Let's be proud that we own our own destinies!
Chris Salierno, DDS