Taking control

Jan. 1, 2003
Now that I teach practice management at my alma mater, I am astounded that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

By Dr. Michael Gradeless

Now that I teach practice management at my alma mater, I am astounded that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Ninety percent of prospective applicants answer the question, "Why do you want to be a dentist?" with the statement that they want to be their own boss. However, 90 percent of the senior class chooses some option other than practice ownership. Why does this happen? Because dental schools teach clinical dentistry and fail to teach those skills necessary to start, purchase, and run a dental business.

Many new dentists begin their professional lives as employees for perfectly good reasons. However, many quickly become unhappy with the situation.

After repeatedly experiencing one or more of the main drawbacks to life as an associate, the vast majority of dentists ultimately decide to seek practice ownership. What are the possible drawbacks as an employee or associate dentist?

Misrepresentation — Payments, buy-in opportunities, or work schedules do not materialize as promised.

Miscalculation of needs — Expected patient flow is not achieved.

Personal conflict — The staff performance is poor and you have no authority to hire, fire, or lead change.

Professional conflicts — The level of patient care does not meet your standards.

Responsibility without control — You are charged with production and collection goals, but are not allowed to make managerial or operational changes.

No equity growth — There is no investment opportunity

Associateship is unprofitable — You realize practice ownership is the most profitable business model

If you recognize these concerns as your own, it may be time to purchase or start your own practice. This series of articles will help you achieve the goal of taking control of your professional life. Each article will include an action agenda that will help you develop the practice of your dreams.

Step one of this process is to know what you want. This is the time to dream — and dream big!

Action agenda

1. Complete the "Personal Needs" from the business exercise.
2. Answer the following questions, in writing, with detailed answers:
? Where do you want to live? What are the licensing requirements of that state? Helpful hints: If you have always wanted to live near the mountains or the ocean, now is the time. Call the state dental society to get information regarding licensure.
? What do you want your dental practice to look like? Is your dream practice located in an expensive, class-A commercial space, or is it a mobile van dedicated to increasing access to care?
? How much money do you need to earn next year to cover your living expenses and debt obligations? Carefully examine your budget, as this number will be important in the development of your business plan.

Personal needs from the business
Choose seven and number in order of personal priority

• Personal income
• Control
• Happiness
• Time for family
• Recognition in community
• Financial Security
• Happy employees
• Freedom
• Material possessions
• Recognition
• Customer satisfaction
• Self-worth
• Retirement funding
• Respect from staff
• Peace of mind

Personal needs survey reprinted by permission of Pride Institute.

Dr. Michael Gradeless, a 1980 graduate of Indiana University, practices preventive dentistry with an emphasis on cosmetics and implants in Indianapolis. He is an adjunct faculty member at Indiana University and lectures at Marquette University School of Dentistry where he teaches the Pride Institute university curriculum of dental management. He is also the editor for the Indiana Dental Association Journal. Contact him at (317) 841-3130 or email [email protected].

Sponsored Recommendations

Clinical Study: OraCare Reduced Probing Depths 4450% Better than Brushing Alone

Good oral hygiene is essential to preserving gum health. In this study the improvements seen were statistically superior at reducing pocket depth than brushing alone (control ...

Clincial Study: OraCare Proven to Improve Gingival Health by 604% in just a 6 Week Period

A new clinical study reveals how OraCare showed improvement in the whole mouth as bleeding, plaque reduction, interproximal sites, and probing depths were all evaluated. All areas...

Chlorine Dioxide Efficacy Against Pathogens and How it Compares to Chlorhexidine

Explore our library of studies to learn about the historical application of chlorine dioxide, efficacy against pathogens, how it compares to chlorhexidine and more.

Enhancing Your Practice Growth with Chairside Milling

When practice growth and predictability matter...Get more output with less input discover chairside milling.