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UIC assistant professor receives inaugural ADA award for new investigator in dental informatics

Dr. Emiliya Taneva of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry received the first Robert H. Ahlstrom New Investigator Award for Dental Informatics Research.

Dr. Taneva

Dr. Taneva

The award, named after the first chairman of the ADA Standards Committee on Dental Informatics, aims to highlight the crucial role that dental informatics standards play in improving the quality of patient care, assuring patient health and safety and increasing efficiency through use of information technology.

Dr. Taneva, a new dentist and clinical assistant professor at the Department of Orthodontics, received the honor for her paper, “3-D Evaluation of Palatal Rugae for Human Identification Using Digital Study Models.”

Her research documented the palatal rugae as identifiers in a 3-D manner comparable to the use of fingerprints.

“My master’s thesis project involved developing and utilizing a 3-D approach for human verification and identification using the palatal rugae pattern,” she said.

Dr. Taneva said she sees 3-D digital study models obtained with intraoral or model scanners for diagnosis and treatment planning being “integrated in the personal electronic health record, which can be requested and accessed by forensic institutes and law enforcement.”

The implementation of the algorithms, she added, could bring a major impact to the biometrics and forensic odontology fields and create new standards for interoperability and transmissibility, and for acquiring and transferring patient data in open source formats.

Dr. Taneva credits her mentors — Dr. Carla Evans, who heads the Department of Orthodontics; Dr. Andrew Johnson, associate professor of Computer Science; and Grace Vianna, statistician, Depatment of Orthodontics — for the award.

As the recipient of the Ahstrom award, Dr. Taneva will receive airfare and accommodations to present the award-winning project at the ADA SCDI’s annual meeting Nov. 2-4 in Washington, D.C.

Applicants for the award must have received their D.D.S. or D.M.D. degrees no more than five years prior to the time of selection. The awards committee and the ADA Council on Dental Practice will select the winner. For more about the ADA Standards Programs, visit ADA.org/dentalstandards.

So you want to be a practice owner someday: Working with professional advisors

Editor’s note: This is the third article in a summer series of New Dentist Now blog posts on practice ownership. To read other articles from the series, click here.

Whether you’re buying or building a practice, you will need a team of reliable advisors to support and guide you through the process and create the outcomes you envision. You’ll want to surround yourself with people you trust to help meet your goals. Here’s an overview from Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the practice lender endorsed by ADA Business Resources, of the professionals who should make up your core team of advisors, the services they provide, and why they are important.

Wells FargoCORE TEAM OF ADVISORS:

Accountant

  • Develops tax projections, plans, and estimates
  • Prepares and files tax documents
  • Can help establish financial procedures and collections practices
  • Advises on tax and accounting implications of business and investment decisions
  • Impact: Your accountant protects your business by accurately tracking your income, expenditures and cash flow for tax filing purposes, and helping to ensure your business runs efficiently within budget.

Lender

  • Provides funds and resources for opening your practice
  • Services financing agreements
  • May offer useful tools and resources to help manage and grow your new practice
  • Impact: Your lender can make your practice investment possible by structuring a financing program that fits within your budget.

Practice Broker (Acquisition only)

  • Identifies practices available for sale
  • Can offer valuation and appraisal services
  • Works with attorney to provide sample agreement of sale
  • Helps negotiate the transaction, structure the transition, and coordinate financing
  • Impact: A practice broker can save you time and money by presenting qualified purchase options.

Attorney

  • Negotiates and drafts contracts, leases, and employment documents
  • Assists in forming business entity
  • Can provide legal advice on business and tax planning, estate planning and will preparation
  • Impact: Your attorney functions as your advocate, helping to ensure contracts and legal documents are prepared and executed both legally and in your best interest.

Insurance Broker

  • Evaluates existing coverage and recommends most effective protection

Impact: An insurance broker can help preserve your practice value by insuring you against loss.

ADDITIONAL TEAM MEMBERS FOR START-UP

If you’re building a start-up, you’ll need several additional advisors on your team to help manage the project.

General Contractor

  • Builds your facility according to your plans, and to suit your business and personal needs.
  • Recommends structural changes to optimize the practice’s functionality
  • Impact: Your general contractor can help protect your physical assets from structural and environmental damage, and can provide counsel and advice on transforming a new practice location to fulfill your vision.

   Equipment Supplier

  • Measures your selected location to evaluate whether it is suitable for a dental practice
  • Suggests possible office design layouts
  • Works with architect to develop structural drawings and mechanicals.
  • Helps you select and place equipment.
  • Impact: Your equipment supplier can help assure the appropriate selection and integration of equipment and technology in the practice.

Depending on the nature and scope of your project, you may also want to include any or all of these professionals on your practice start-up team:

  • Architect.
  • Interior designer.
  • Lease negotiator.
  • Local practitioner/mentor.
  • Marketing consultant.
  • Project manager. (Click here for more information about the benefits of adding a Project Manager to your team)

Benefits of a Practice Management Consultant

Another specialist who might prove valuable to your practice acquisition or start-up is the Practice Management Consultant. This type of advisor works with you and your team to help ensure your business systems and internal structure are properly positioned for full functionality, profitability and success. The Practice Management Consultant can help minimize the stress of transitioning to a new practice by identifying potential areas of improvement and working with you to develop a plan for change.

It’s neither necessary nor advisable to go it alone when purchasing or building a practice. Start putting together the right professional team for your situation, and you’ll soon find that your new practice is becoming a reality.


ADA Success program aims for connection

Seventeen member dentists, including several new dentists, attended an ADA Success Speaker Training program July 24 at ADA Headquarters to hone their facilitation and public speaking skills.

The ADA launched ADA Success, an all-new program for dental students offering a series of programs on topics most relevant to students today.

Each program is one-hour in length and is presented by a volunteer dentist or other subject matter expert. The programs are presented at no charge to students or dental schools by the American Dental Association and/or state and local dental societies. ADA Success helps students prepare for life as a dentist — good choices now, great dentists later. Program topics include managing debt and wealth; practice management for all dentists; all about associateships; future of dentistry; finding a job; and understanding employment agreements.

Friday’s attendees are among the total 47 speakers in the ADA Success speaker corps. Additional training will be offered in September.

For more information, or to schedule a program, contact ADA Office of Student Affairs at 312.440.7470 or studentaffairs@ada.org or visit ADA.org/successprogram.

Check out the photos from Friday’s Success program below:

Volunteer dentists sought for 2015 Veterans’ Smile Day

Smile: Dr. Michelle Frawley (right) smile for the a camera with her dental assistant and patient during last year’s Veterans' Smile Day event in Beverly Hills, Calif. Dr. Frawley was among 80 dentists from 50 offices around the country to provide free dental care to veterans during the annual event.

Smile: Dr. Michelle Frawley (right) smile for the a camera with her dental assistant and patient during last year’s Veterans’ Smile Day event in Beverly Hills, Calif. Dr. Frawley was among 80 dentists from 50 offices around the country to provide free dental care to veterans during the annual event.

Los Angeles — Organizers of this year’s Veterans’ Smile Day are seeking volunteers from across the country to expand the annual event and provide more dental care to those who served in the U.S. military.

“We are living the way we are living today thanks to the sacrifices these veterans made,” said Dr. Karin Irani, event organizer and coordinator. “This is a way for us to show some appreciation for what they’ve done for us.”

This year’s event, to be held Nov. 13-14 — the weekend following the Nov. 11 Veterans Day holiday, seeks dentist volunteers to provide services in their own offices.

Dr. Irani

Dr. Irani

Last year, 80 dentists from about 50 offices in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Arizona and Florida saw about 600 veterans during the Veterans’ Smile Day.

“There were times when a veteran, who finds out about the event, calls and asks where they can go to see a dentist, and I have to tell them there aren’t any dentists in their area participating,” she said. “So the more volunteers, the better.”

This year, more dentists have already signed on to participate, including dentists from Colorado. In addition, Henry Schein and Procter & Gamble are again sponsoring the event, said Dr. Irani, a graduate of the ADA Institute for Diversity in Leadership.

When it comes to dental care, many veterans simply fall through the cracks. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, veterans have to meet certain eligibility factors to receive dental care, such as service-related dental disability or condition, or if they are a former prisoner of war.

In addition, some veterans who qualify for dental benefits still don’t receive the care they need because of the distance to their nearest VA hospital.

“Last year, some doctors who participated were expecting only older veterans from World War II to visit,” Dr. Irani said. “Some were really surprised when young veterans who are in college or working but don’t qualify for benefits showed up because they needed help.”

During Veterans’ Smile Day, participating dental clinics may provide free dental care such as examinations, X-rays, oral cancer screening, cleanings, fillings, extractions and other preventive and restorative dental care.

Dr. Deryck Pham, a Navy veteran and current class member of the ADA Institute for Diversity in Leadership, founded the event 3 years ago. Dr. Pham opened his Mays Landing, New Jersey, office to veterans who needed dental care in 2012, treating 33 patients.

After reaching out to his friend and University of Southern California School of Dentistry classmate, Dr. Irani, to helped Veterans’ Smile Day expand to five states last year.

Organizers find veterans who need dental care by promoting the event in colleges, veteran services organizations, and through word-of-mouth and social media. Those veterans are then paired with a volunteer dentist. The day and time of the visit is scheduled ahead of time.

Dentists interested in participating this year, Dr. Irani said, can decide how much time they can contribute, how many people they can see, what time of day they can see the veterans, what dental services they can provide, and whether they can provide the services for free or at a discount. Hygienists and dental assistants are welcome to volunteer as well.

“Whatever dentists can give, we’ll take. Even if it’s just an exam or a cleaning, it’s a big help,” Dr. Irani said. “Everyone can give one day a year. Every dentist can give one day. That’s not asking for a lot.”

For more information on the event and how to participate this year, contact Dr. Irani at ddsusc03@gmail.com.

10 common excuses for avoiding exercise

Dentists, like anyone else, know that it’s important to stay fit. And yet how many of us tell our physicians that we want to be healthier, but (fill in the blank yourself) gets in the way of exercise. Do you believe your patients when they say they have no time to floss, or that it is too difficult? Didn’t think so! Adopting a healthy lifestyle is a no-brainer if you want to feel better, look younger and live longer, according to the ADA Center for Professional Success.

Center for Professional SuccessLet’s challenge 10 common excuses:

I don’t have time. Make time. Keep it simple. Try exercising just five minutes a day. If you can’t go outside for a brisk walk, try doing some pushups, sit-ups, squats or lunges somewhere in the office. Take the dog for a walk yourself instead of nagging your children or hiring a dog walker.  Start with something easy. Once you’ve learned to fit it into your day, consider expanding to 10 minutes. And so on.

I have kids. Play with them. Take them to the park. Combine exercise and bonding time . . . it’s fun and healthy.

Dentistry takes up all my time and energy. All it takes is a couple minutes. Working out will energize, unwind and de-stress you if you make the time.  If your schedule permits, block off 10 more minutes at lunch, and walk around the block.

I’m too tired. Lack of exercise makes you more tired. Working out refreshes you.  Did you try that 10 minute walk suggested in #3?  It’ll perk you up more than a 2 pm caffeine break!

I’m sick or injured. It’s one thing if you’re really ill, with a fever or serious medical condition. In those situations, rest is better than exercise. The same applies to serious injuries. Minor ailments are a different story. Most of us can still exercise with the lesser illnesses and/or injuries we use as excuses.

The gym is too expensive (or too far way). You don’t need to join a gym to exercise. Work with what you have. Walk or run outside. Do bodyweight exercises indoors—at home or in the office. Free yoga and other instructional videos are available online.

It’s just too hard. Don’t strain yourself . . . start easy, with five minutes of walking or five pushups. If that’s too hard, then start with two minutes of walking and two pushups. Take baby steps and start small. Gradually progress as your body builds endurance.

I’m not good at it. No one is good at it when they start out. You have to learn, and everyone has to start somewhere. The most important thing is getting started.   Remember how long it took you to place that first occlusal restoration?  Bet you’re faster and better now.  Exercise is exactly the same—the more you do, the better you become.

The weather is crummy. Don’t let the elements limit you. Have an indoor and an outdoor plan. Even if your indoor plan exists only as a back-up to your outdoor regimen, it’s a good option to have.

I’m not motivated. Motivation is a mindset. You can find it in knowing that moving your body can be fun, exhilarating and age defying . . . and that a sedentary lifestyle will actually hurt you.

So you want to be a practice owner someday: Paths to ownership – Should you acquire or build?

Editor’s note: This is the second article in a summer series of New Dentist Now blog posts on practice ownership. To read other articles from the series, click here.

Congratulations on your decision to become a practice owner! You have many challenges and rewards ahead of you. One of your first tasks is to decide whether to acquire an existing dental practice, or start your own. The ideal choice for you depends on your personality, professional interests and circumstances, and will become increasingly clear as you explore each path to ownership. Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of a practice acquisition versus start-up, according to Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the practice lender endorsed by ADA Business Resources.

Wells FargoPractice acquisition: Pros and cons

A practice acquisition can be an easier transition for new doctors as systems and cash flow are already in place. In a true turnkey situation, you could potentially start working on patients the same day you obtain the keys to the office. Benefits of acquiring a practice include:

  • Immediate source of production. A beneficial practice acquisition provides an established patient base and income flow, so you can immediately cover loan payments for the purchase while tweaking the details of the practice over time.
  • Ready staff of employees. If you can retain the employees currently in the practice, you will save hours of time in hiring and training hygienists and office staff and have a ready foundation for ongoing operations.
  • Support systems in place. An existing practice will have scheduling, patient tracking, and operational systems in place, saving you time in selecting and installing these types of support mechanisms.
  • Less reliant on marketing. Since you are purchasing a practice that already produces income, you are less dependent on aggressive marketing efforts to generate interest, commitment, and cash flow.
  • Easier loan approval. You may find it’s easier to attain a loan for a practice acquisition than a start-up, as the business has a proven track record upon which the lending company can base its decision.

However, acquisitions can also have their share of problems, which makes it especially important to conduct thorough due diligence. For example, you could inherit troublesome employees who require training or discipline, inefficient procedures or office systems that need to be overhauled, outdated equipment that should be replaced, or a dated facility that needs remodeling. You may also find that the type of dental services provided at the facility are not a true fit for your interests or specialty, requiring you to gradually transition to the offerings and services you prefer. It’s up to you to determine whether it’s worth your time and money to overcome these issues.

Practice start-up: The satisfaction of doing it yourself

Nothing beats the feeling of being in control of your circumstances, and this is the key benefit of the practice start-up:

  • Complete control. With a start-up, you have the ultimate degree of control in creating the professional environment you want.  From the facility itself to equipment, systems and employees, you’re in charge of deciding what works best for you.
  • Creative endeavor. You have a unique opportunity to express your professional and personal taste, unimpeded by dated equipment and facilities or the inheritance of someone else’s problems.
  • Set your own pace. Since you don’t have existing patients to serve, you can set the pace for your transition to ownership, continuing to work as an employee a couple of days a week if necessary while you gradually build your facility and practice.

Of course, start-ups come with their own brand of challenges and risks, such as:

  • Time consuming. Time you could be investing in patient relationships will be spent making numerous decisions about office design, equipment purchases, employee hiring, systems and protocols, and patient outreach. You will need to invest more time in growing the practice than with an acquisition, requiring excellent organizational skills.
  • Marketing-intensive. The success of your start-up will be dependent on your ability to sell your services, and will require a significant degree of planning and marketing skills to establish the business.
  • Location constraints. You will need to choose a location that can demographically support a new dental practice to ensure long-term success. This may limit your practice location options.
  • Loan limitations. Some loan companies may be more reluctant to lend funds for a practice start-up as there is no income history, existing equipment or property to use as collateral. This is particularly true for lenders who are not specialists in professional practice lending.

No matter which path you choose, it’s most important to ensure your choice fits your personal style, situation, and needs. This is the key to attaining professional success, personal satisfaction and enjoyment throughout your business career.

My New Dentist Life: From graduation to South Carolina

Editor’s note: This is the first article in a New Dentist Now blog series, My New Dentist Life, following a new dentist’s first year experiences out of dental school. The views expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author and are not intended to reflect the views, positions or policies of the ADA or the New Dentist Committee.

Hello!  My name is Emily Hobart and I am a new dentist.

Dr. Emily Hobart at graduation.

Dr. Emily Hobart at graduation.

That felt an awful lot like introducing myself to a group of complete strangers at a self-help meeting. Although in all reality, that is what I am here to do – help!  I have been tasked with updating the masses – curious dental students, fellow new dentists and seasoned dentists alike – on all of the nitty gritty details of what it is like to be a new dentist, fresh out of school, right now. Throughout the year I will share my story. But who knows, I may just end up candidly dishing my embarrassing first-year blunders. I am as interested as you are to see how this all pans out. Either way it should be a lot of fun!

But first, some background.

Deciding where to practice

Like I mentioned, I am a brand new dentist. I just graduated from Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine – Arizona in Glendale, Arizona with the fun-loving Class of 2015.  After surviving D4 year, which felt very much like a circus with all of the hoops that we had to jump through – NDBE Part II, NERB/WREB and all of their components, clinical competencies, and (oh yeah) delivering top notch patient care – here I am!  With all of the busy day-to-day activities of fourth year, focusing on the future was not a priority for me. I found this to be a good thing because for me the future was a blank white canvas. I am unmarried, without children, and my family lives on opposite ends of the continent – I could literally go anywhere and do anything I wanted.  As freeing as that sounds, it was actually pretty scary.

Dr. Hobart and her classmates walking  to graduation to the tune of bagpipes. (photo by Rachel Heinz)

Dr. Hobart and her classmates walking to graduation to the tune of bagpipes. (photo by Rachel Heinz)

A timeline of Dr. Hobart’s journey from her last year of dental school to practicing in South Carolina.

A timeline of Dr. Hobart’s journey from her last year of dental school to practicing in South Carolina.

Having grown up in Glendale, less than 5 minutes from Midwestern, I was ready for a change. But like I said, I had no idea where I wanted to go. Because of this, I took both NERB and WREB since my school offered both. I was one of two students in my class to do so.  I basically wanted the freedom to work in as many places as possible. This meant that I had twice the requirements, twice the cost, and unfortunately, twice the stress!  The anxiety of these exams didn’t come from worry about my abilities – by that point I knew what I was doing – it came from the variables that were out of my control. Will my patient show up?  Will I have enough time to complete the exam with the long grading lines? I suffered through this twice. If you would like my opinion on either exam or how they compared, just ask.

I finished up all of these requirements and moved on to the job search in early April (which I panicked was too late because I had many proactive friends who already found jobs at that point). I narrowed down my focus to the South (How different can you get?), namely South Carolina and Georgia. I soon found out that Georgia would not be a possibility because they only accept the CRDTS exam – which is exactly the same thing as NERB. If I wanted to work there, I would have to retake the exact same exam – find (and possibly pay) patients, fly myself and them to a school in a state that holds that exam and pray that everything works out the first time. Lesson learned: The real world doesn’t always make sense.  But now that I narrowed down which state I wanted to work in, I could start applying for my license.

Getting my license

Dr. Hobart with Dr. Russell Gilpatrick, dean of Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine.

Dr. Hobart with Dr. Russell Gilpatrick, dean of Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine.

Of course, I couldn’t actually apply for my license until the week of my official graduation date when my school would send the states of my choosing a copy of my official transcript.  I applied for a license in Arizona even though I didn’t intend to work there right away because I wanted to have a standing license in a WREB state in addition to a NERB state (South Carolina).  Another lesson learned: This process takes a long time!  (Although it depends on the state and the time of year that you apply.) I applied for both licenses on May 11, Arizona by paper application and South Carolina online. My Arizona license came about two weeks later on May 27. I didn’t get my South Carolina license until July 13 – a full nine weeks later.

How I found my job

Having been an ASDA district trustee last year and involved in the organization for all four years of dental school, I had made connections with recruiters for a lot of group practices by helping to set up sponsored events. I interviewed with several group practices in South Carolina because of this. I also used the ADA Career Center to help me find job openings in the state. I fell in love with Dental Dreams (which I found with the help of this tool), interviewed, and I was offered a job with Family Dental in Columbia, South Carolina, in early May. This process, though daunting, was way easier than I thought it would be.

My start date was supposed to be July 13, but since I got my license on that date, I wasn’t able to start. Once my license arrived, I had to apply for my controlled substances license (required by some states) before I could apply for my DEA license. I also had a stack of new hire and credentialing paperwork to fill out. With any luck, I will start soon.

SouthCarolinaRoad tripping to South Carolina

To get from Arizona to South Carolina, I employed my favorite form of travel – the road trip! My boyfriend and I packed a car full of stuff, and I had my car shipped across the country. Four days on the I-40 was exciting because I saw states that I had never seen before. I even got to stay with my friend Dr. Daryn Lu, former ASDA vice president, in Oklahoma City.

Dr. Hobart did an "escape the room" in Oklahoma City to escape the torrential downpour outside.

Dr. Hobart did an “escape the room” in Oklahoma City to escape the torrential downpour outside.

When I arrived in Columbia, I spent a few days apartment searching. I had done a lot of pre-research, but I needed to see the places for myself. I picked one, but in true real world fashion, it wouldn’t be ready for about a week. I took a “forced vacation” in the meantime, road tripping to Myrtle Beach, Savannah, Charleston and Charlotte. Columbia is thankfully close to so many other cool cities.

Next time: My blog post is about my first week on the job! I promise it won’t be as long as this one!

Dr. Emily Hobart is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and an estranged Canadian who grew up in Glendale, Arizona, where she attended dental school at Midwestern University. She is now finding her way as a new dentist in Columbia, South Carolina. In her free time, she loves running, rock climbing, pub trivia, karaoke and traveling!

New Dentist Conference, ADA annual meeting inspire new dentists, dental students

Westwood, Calif. — While many 2015 dental graduates are busy looking for or settling into practices, one of their fellow graduates is urging both them and dental students to mark some days in early November on their calendars.

Dr. Mendoza

Dr. Mendoza

The New Dentist Conference, which for the first time will coincide with the ADA annual meeting, which takes place in Washington, D.C. from Nov. 5-10. New dentists can participate in both meetings this year and experience all ADA 2015 has to offer, featuring high-level networking opportunities during Leadership Day; a new dentist reception at Penn Social; inspiration from keynote speaker Daymond John, entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” co-star; an exclusive, customized continuing education track featuring real-time interactive technology and more.

Dental students and new dentists alike should make every attempt to attend both events, said Dr. Kristopher Mendoza of the UCLA School of Dentistry Class of 2015.

He should know, considering that he is the immediate past president of the American Student Dental Association and has been an active participant in two past ADA annual meetings.

“It’s a great time to recharge and see what’s beyond dental school,” Dr. Mendoza said.

The 25-year-old dentist, who has just begun a three-year residency in dental anesthesiology at UCLA, said that while the advantages of attending the annual meeting are myriad, one in particular is especially useful for dental students and new dentists.

“One of the greatest benefits for students at the annual meeting is definitely networking with other dentists and students,” Dr. Mendoza said. “Everyone there is extremely helpful, helping the next generation of dentists. They want to see you succeed.”

New Dentist Conference 2015There are several reasons why connecting and interacting with students and more established dentists is important, Dr. Mendoza said. One is that dental students close to graduation and new dentists are seeking jobs, and he has found that some of the established dentists have looked at dentists to join their practices or even sell their practices to.

A second reason is that the ADA annual meeting exposes current and new students to a national community of dentists who provide perspective and inspiration. Attending dental school can place students in a bubble but going to a conference with hundreds of other people who had gone through the experience or were going through the experience invigorated him, he said.

“It was my break,” Dr. Mendoza said. “It helped keep me going. You’re not the only one going through it. It gave me a better outlook on the dental field.” It helped Dr. Mendoza because when he grew up in Fresno, California, he didn’t have any dentists in the family to relate to.

Dr. Mendoza gets asked frequently from younger dentists and dental students if they should join the ADA. “I would challenge them to explore all that being a member offers,” he said. “The value far exceeds the cost.”

Registration for ADA 2015 is open online at ADA.org/meeting.

For a list of courses planned, visit eventscribe.com/ADA/2015.

Search for #ADADC on Twitter and Facebook for more on the ADA annual meeting.

So you want to be a practice owner…someday: Solo or group practice, which is right for you?

Editor’s note: This is the first article in a summer series of New Dentist Now blog posts on practice ownership.

It can take significant introspection to determine whether you’re best suited for a solo practice where you run the show, or a group practice with two or more dentists taking direction from an individual or corporate owner.

Wells FargoIn general, the solo practice may offer more income potential – you do not have to share profits with partners, and you have greater control over your overhead. However, joining a group practice may give you greater stability with a more predictable salary and lifestyle, and more flexibility as work can continue to be performed when you are away from the office.

It’s up to you to determine which type of setting is most likely to fulfill your needs and expectations, as well as fit your personality type and interpersonal style. Take a look at the following list of key characteristics to see which one best describes you from Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the practice lender endorsed by ADA Business Resources.

Solo Practitioner

1)   Entrepreneurial. You crave the freedom to pursue your own clinical interests and are not afraid to work hard and take calculated risks. You look forward to having complete control over your practice and professional life.

2)   Highly organized. You enjoy the business side of dentistry including the administrative responsibilities of hiring and managing staff, selecting insurance, purchasing technology and marketing your practice.

3)   Strong decision maker. You can make tough decisions based on your own best interests and those of your patients, understanding that the ultimate success and growth of your practice is your responsibility.

4)   Visionary. You know where you want to go with your career, and have a good idea of how to get there. You prefer to be in charge of the quality of care, environment, customer service and operation of your practice.

5)   Good negotiator. You’re confident in your abilities to identify and hire professional team members to help you successfully locate, build, design, equip, staff and manage your practice.

Group Practitioner

1)   Team player. You thrive in a collegial setting where you can interact and learn from colleagues and ultimately achieve mentor status. You are comfortable taking direction from a corporate employer or group leader.

2)   Focused. You prefer to focus deeply on your area of expertise, honing your skills in a specific field of dental care, rather than juggling multiple responsibilities and administrative tasks.

3)   Well-balanced. You seek a predictable income and regular work hours in order to achieve stability and a healthy balance between career and family.

4)   Flexible. You can “roll with the punches” and adapt to management or structural changes that may occur in your work setting, such as the number of dentists with whom you will share the workload and the types of treatments you will offer.

5)   Ability to compromise. As in a good marriage, you understand when to push for your own needs and objectives, and when to compromise in order to preserve and grow the relationship.

Working for a period of time in a group setting can be beneficial for the new dentist, as you have the opportunity to learn how a practice is run before taking on this responsibility as a solo practitioner. However, with excellent clinical and organizational skills, you can succeed in a solo practice and enjoy the significant sense of achievement that such an endeavor can provide.


How to reduce stress

It’s no secret to you, or your dental team, that the dental profession comes with the potential for daily stress that can affect your health, as well as your ability to do your job. Stress can occur in various ways throughout your normal workday.  Handling an anxious patient, performing a not-so-familiar procedure or managing the intricacies of health insurance plans to make sure your patients get the treatments they need can all add up to one big stressor by the end of the day.

Work-Life Balance

Work-Life Balance

New dentists have the added stress of running a new business, learning to manage employees and the added burden of dental school loan repayment.

Here are two common stressful scenarios with some tips from the Center for Professional Success on how to handle them:

“What do I do when I get patients that are tense and fearful?”

This is a common concern for new dentists. When you walk into the operatory, you can easily pick up the anxiety from the patient without even realizing it. To stop this from happening, it’s important to observe the patient carefully. If you notice they are anxious, tell them you understand their anxiety and instruct them to take a deep breath along with you and to let their body sink into the chair. The deep breath (or two) will help them relax — and put you at ease as well.

“I work in a multi-operatory situation and I’m so tired at the end of the day. How can I stop from burning out?”

Time demands on dentists can be difficult. Self-care is important to keep yourself in good running order. Watch your diet — be sure to eat breakfast, a mid-afternoon snack, a decent lunch and a healthy dinner. Don’t forget to schedule your lunch hour on your calendar, so you’re sure to take it. Get some rest during the day — pause for a moment between patients, take a deep breath. Then close your eyes and take a second deep breath. Doing this is like pressing the reset button — kind of like taking a one-minute vacation.