Define "success"

Here is another story about finding your niche in dentistry. I bought my practice in 1990 in Monterey, Calif. It was quite a successful practice, but being a new graduate (1989) and having no business experience, I struggled finding out how to operate a business.

David H. Roholt, DDS

Monterey, Calif.

Here is another story about finding your niche in dentistry. I bought my practice in 1990 in Monterey, Calif. It was quite a successful practice, but being a new graduate (1989) and having no business experience, I struggled finding out how to operate a business.

I became involved with various practice-management philosophies over the next seven years, trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. At one time, I was going for the "million dollar" practice with eight people on staff. At another time, I was going for the "cosmetic" practice. Neither was successful for me. After accepting Christ, I began to allow the practice to develop in a way that suited my personality. I now have only two people on staff, both RDAs and fully cross-trained. I have no hygienist. I see an average of five to seven patients per day and gross an average of $25,000 per month with a 50 percent overhead.

My point is that one does not need to have a million-dollar practice or cosmetics-only practice to be successful. Success is dependent on how each person finds satisfaction in life and achieving a balance between work, family, play, and God. I also should point out that I have two beautiful children and have been happily married for seven years. I was not always this happy with my life. In fact, during my various practice modes, there were times when I nearly went bankrupt, ended up in the hospital with stress-induced abdominal pain, and considered getting out of dentistry.

Most practice-management gurus would not consider my practice as successful as I go. They would try to get me to be more efficient by hiring a hygienist, double-booking patients to see more people, increasing production, and advertising to bring in more business, etc. But, to be honest, I enjoy being able to spend 30-45 minutes with my recall patients two times a year and getting reaquainted with their lives. I enjoy not feeling rushed, making my own provisionals, trimming all my own dies, rarely having patients wait more than five minutes for their appointments, and still having dinner every evening with my family, spending every weekend with my wife and kids, and having enough money to live a conservative, but comfortable, lifestyle.

I feel that now I am truly happy after finally bucking the generally perceived views of a successful practice.

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