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UNC, dental foundation establish memorial award for slain students

deah_yusor

Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21

Chapel Hill, N.C. — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Dental Foundation of North Carolina have established a memorial award in honor of two dental students killed this year.

On Feb. 10, Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and his 19-year-old sister-in-law Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were fatally shot in their Chapel Hill, North Carolina, apartment. Police officers arrested their neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, for the shooting.

The Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha Memorial Award was established in consultation with both students’ families and will be presented for the first time this fall. Mr. Barakat was a second-year student at the UNC School of Dentistry and Ms. Abu-Salha was to enter as a first-year in August. The award will provide support to a UNC School of Dentistry student or group of students who plan a local, national or international service product that, Mr. Barakat’s brother, Farris, said “will give back to communities that need help the most,” according to a UNC news release.

“Deah and Yusor led lives of great purpose and this fund is a fitting tribute to their humanitarian devotions,” UNC Chancellor Carol L. Folt said in a news release. “Through this award, the Carolina community is honoring their legacy of creating a more compassionate world through dentistry and delivering aid to those who are more vulnerable and in need.”

Mr. Barakat had volunteered at dental clinics overseas and had plans to travel to Turkey with 10 dentists this summer to help Syrian refugee students in need of dental care. He had posted a YouTube video last September asking for donations to raise money for supplies and equipment. Through his efforts, Project Refugee Smiles successfully raised the funds for the trip.

“Deah and Yusor had incredible hearts for service,” said Dr. Jane Weintraub, dean and alumni distinguished professor at the UNC School of Dentistry. “They often gave their weekends to working at homeless shelters or the North Carolina Missions of Mercy clinics and were no strangers to international service trips. Through this award, we’ll be able to not only educate our students about their lives of service but also continue their legacy of giving back for years to come.”

The Dental Foundation of North Carolina and UNC each committed $30,000 to the endowed fund. Those who wish to contribute can visit giving.unc.edu/gift/sod and select “Barakat Memorial Fund” from the dropdown menu.

ECU dental school’s first graduating class establishes endowment

ECU dental school Class of 2015

ECU dental school Class of 2015

According to the ECU School of Dental Medicine News, the first graduating class of East Carolina University dental school established an endowment to support patient care and student learning.

The endowed gift — the Inaugural Class Patient Care Endowment — received 100 percent participation by the 50 graduates and matching funds from the ECU Medical and Health Sciences Foundation. It currently stands at $33,000.

“The Class of 2015 takes great pride in the palpable impact that the school is already having on North Carolina, and we are inspired by our faculty’s commitment to service. Our dedication to carrying out the school’s mission and fulfilling our class pledge extends beyond our years here. It is with this in mind that we have established the patient fund,” said Dr. Kelly Walsh, class vice president, who co-presented the gift at the school’s convocation on May 8.

To read the full story, click here.

Take action to support student loan reform

2014 Dental Student Loan DebtContact your member of Congress and urge him or her to cosponsor the Student Loan Refinancing Act of 2015, H.R. 649.

The American Dental Education Association estimates that the average graduating dental student’s debt was over $247,000 in 2014.

H.R. 649 will allow borrowers, under the federal student loan program, to refinance their existing loans multiple times. If the current interest rates are below the rate they are paying, they can refinance their loans. This would assist new dentists in reducing their overall debt, thereby opening opportunities to practice in areas of need.

Fill out the form here.

What type of entity should a dentist consider selecting and why?

In my previous blog post, I explained why, as a new dentist you may wish to form a legal entity to run your practice instead of running it as a sole proprietorship. In this article, I’ll explain what type of entity you should consider forming, what tax elections you should consider making when forming that entity, how to actually do it, and how much it will cost.

Rich McIver

Rich McIver

What type of entity you should consider forming

There are a lot of options when selecting what type of legal entity you will operate your practice out of. There is a traditional corporation (denoted by “Inc.”), a professional corporation (“P.C.”), a limited liability company (“LLC”), a professional limited liability company (“PLLC”), a limited partnership (“L.P.”), a general partnership (“G.P.”), a limited liability partnership (“L.L.P.”), and in some states a limited liability limited partnership (“L.L.L.P.”), along with a number of other industry specific entity types.

When you form your entity, you need to select one of these types, each of which operates under a different set of laws and tax rules thus each of which has different advantages and disadvantages. Because of the different laws and tax rules, you are urged to consult with your personal attorney in the state in which you will be practicing before making a final decision on the type of entity to form.  Once you select one you’ll need to append it to the legal name of your practice (e.g. “Dallas Dentistry PLLC”).

Professional Corporation

A Professional Corporation (“P.C.”) is simply a corporation for professionals such as doctors, lawyers or dentists. It operates just like a corporation (“Inc.”) with a few differences that aren’t relevant to this discussion. P.C.s using an S-Corp election (discussed further below) were the original option for dentists who wanted to form an entity. The P.C. with an S-Corp election provided a liability shield, cleaner tax accounting, the ability to distinguish between a dentist’s income and the practice’s profits and thus pay less in Social Security (10.4 percent of self-employment income up to $117,000) and Medicare taxes (2.9 percent of self employment income uncapped) than under a sole proprietorship. Plus a number of other benefits. Unfortunately, because P.C.s are a derivative of corporations (“Inc.”) they also generally require more paperwork, formal annual meetings, and other administrative hassles that traditional corporations require.

Professional Limited Liability Company

Certain administrative and tax burdens associated with a traditional corporation (and thus P.C.s) led states to create a new type of entity, the Limited Liability Company (“LLC”), and in its professional form the PLLC. A professional limited liability company (“PLLC”) is simply an LLC for businesses involving professional services. The benefit of a PLLC is that it generally has less burdensome administrative requirements than a P.C. This lower administrative burden made PLLC’s very attractive for dental practices (except in a few states, most notably California, where LLC’s cannot be used to practice medicine) . The downside of a PLLC relative to a P.C., however, was that a dentist’s Medicare and self-employment tax liability couldn’t be capped at his or her self-employment income, but instead was based on the overall profitability of the practice. This meant that dentists under a PLLC might be paying an extra 2.9-13.3 percent in self-employment taxes.

Professional Limited Liability Company With S-Corp Election

Obviously a combo of these two entity types, the P.C. with its caps on self-employment taxes, and the PLLC with its low administrative hassles, could be advantageous. Thankfully, that is possible with the PLLC with an S-Corp election.

States now almost universally allow PLLC’s to elect to be treated as P.C. or S-Corp’s for tax purposes (again, notably not in California). So, in effect, they are treated as an LLC from a corporate perspective, but when it comes to taxes they’re an S-Corp. This means that a dentist who forms their entity as a PLLC with an S-Corp election gets the benefit of lower administrative legal hassles, with the self-employment tax savings of a corporation. As such, this has become the default answer for many dentists when considering what type of entity to form.  However, as noted above, a dentist would be wise to consult with his or her personal attorney in the state in which he or she will be practicing before making a final decision on the type of entity to form.

How to Form an Entity

Now that you’ve selected the type of entity, you need to decide where to form it. For many dentists, the right answer is usually the state that you will practice in. That’s because if your state is reasonably business friendly, the advantages you can get elsewhere may be outweighed by the convenience and cost savings of not having to hire an out of state agent. But, there are valid reasons for deciding otherwise, so take your time and consider all the factors, perhaps after discussions with your personal attorney. (http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/where-form-your-llc.html).

Once you’ve selected a state, actually forming an entity is really easy. For some states you need to first contact your licensing board and get documentation proving you’re a licensed dentist.  Then, just visit your state’s secretary of state’s website (find your state’s here)  to find the forms, download them, complete them and send them in. In many states the application can be completed all online, and in total it’ll take you about 5 minutes. The cost of forming an entity depends on the state, with some as cheap as $45 and others as expensive as $800 (for a state by state cost breakdown read this). You can pay via check, or in some states via credit card online. Note: In a few states, like New York, there is an additional publication requirement to complete formation which can cost up to an additional $1,600.

Once you’ve completed the application, the Secretary of State’s office will review it, and assuming it’s completed correctly, send you a stamped copy in the mail (or increasingly online). With that stamped copy, your entity now formally exists, and you can start doing things like obtaining a bank account, credit card, signing contracts with vendors, etc. all in the company’s name.

In the next article we’ll discuss some of the first vendors and service providers you’ll need to contract with to begin your practice.

For information on ADA legal resources, click here.

Rich McIver is a New Dentist Now guest blogger. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2005 and obtained his law degree at the University of Chicago Law School in 2008. After graduating law school, Rich founded and managed three tech startups that were each acquired through private equity, private sales and a merger, respectively. In 2010, he founded and managed a Houston-based plaintiffs law firm which he sold via a buyout in 2014. In 2013, he and his wife, Holly McIver, an ADA member dentist, founded Kingwood Orthodontics, where he continues to manage back-office operations. His current project is running Merchant Negotiators, a Web startup that reviews credit card processors. Rich provides practical actionable advice for new dentists based on his experience starting and building successful businesses.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to promote awareness of legal and other issues that may affect dentists and dental practices, and is not intended to provide either legal or professional advice. Dentists are urged to consult directly with a properly qualified professional or with an attorney admitted to practice in their jurisdiction for appropriate legal or professional advice.

Rich McIver is a New Dentist Now guest blogger. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2005 and obtained his law degree at the University of Chicago Law School in 2008. After graduating law school, Rich founded and managed three tech startups that were each acquired through private equity, private sales and a merger, respectively. In 2010, he founded and managed a Houston-based plaintiffs law firm which he sold via a buyout in 2014. In 2013, he and his wife, Holly McIver, an ADA member dentist, founded Kingwood Orthodontics, where he continues to manage back-office operations. His current project is running Merchant Negotiators, a Web startup based in Houston. Rich provides practical actionable advice for new dentists based on his experience starting and building successful businesses.

Access JADA articles, online CE with ADA username and password

Beginning March 25, ADA members can log in to obtain access to JADA Online as a benefit of membership by clicking the ADA Member Login link on the website and entering their ADA Member ID and password.

JADAADA members receive a 50 percent discount on JADA 2015 Online CE, which will be applied automatically when they log in via the ADA Member Login link. The member price is $10 for three CE credits. The nonmember price for three JADA Online CE credits is $20.

For assistance with ADA member ID and password issues, contact the ADA Member Service Center at the toll-free number on your member card or call 1-312-440-2500. ADA Member Service Center advisors are available Monday through Friday; 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. CST. Or email mscpassword@ada.org.

Nonmembers may purchase a one-year subscription for $179, which includes access to JADA content from 1913 to present; purchase a single article access for $31.50; or join the ADA to receive access to JADA Online and Online CE discounts at ADA.org.

How to contract with third-party payers

Contracting with third-party payers can prove complicated but with some diligence and attention, new dentists can feel confident they were thorough in their decision.

Patients are two and a half times more likely to visit the dentist if they have dental benefits. Nearly 187 million Americans were covered by some form of dental benefit in 2012, according to a report from the National Association of Dental Plans and the Delta Dental Plans Association.

In 2013, a typical dental practice had nearly 72 percent of its patients with some form of a dental benefit, making it challenging for dentists to decide whether to participate in a network or not. On average, dentists participate in five and a half managed care plans.

Here are some steps the ADA recommends new dentists take when beginning the process of contracting with a dental benefits company:

• Figure out the volume of patients you expect to see and whether the fees proposed by the third-party payer work for you. The ADA Benefit Plan Analyzer allows dentists to run “what if” scenarios that will illustrate the financial impact to their practice. It’s available on the ADA Center for Professional Success website at Success.ADA.org.

• Carefully review the contract between you and the thirdparty payer. A contract is a legal document and by signing it, you are making promises that you must keep.

• Consult with your personal attorney before signing. The ADA Contract Analysis Service is also an option. Members may submit a contract to their state or local dental societies, who will forward it to the service, which provides a plain language explanation of contract terms of each agreement analyzed. The service does not provide legal advice or recommend whether a contract should or should not be signed.

• Determine whether the contract presented includes terms such as an all affiliated carriers clause, most favored nation clause or hold harmless agreement. Also pay attention to the carrier’s processing policies, which may or may not appear in the contract.

• Review the plan’s website and provider participation manuals carefully. Understand how changes to these will be communicated to you and your rights when changes are made. If you still have questions, talk to a representative from the plan to clarify.

The ADA Center for Professional Success has a series of videos that will help dentists understand how third-party payers interface with dental offices. Click here, to watch the tutorials.

World’s first dental school celebrates 175th anniversary

Baltimore — The University of Maryland School of Dentistry, the first dental college in the world, celebrated a new milestone May 30 — its 175th anniversary.

Birthday Candles“In conveying admiration for venerable institutions, people often generously use the word ‘pioneering,’ but there is nothing inflated about applying that term to our School of Dentistry,” said Jay A. Perman, M.D., president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore in a pre-recorded address to the 250 faculty staff, students, alumni and friends who gathered at the Baltimore Hyatt Regency.

“You are, of course, the world’s very first dental college,” he said. “But my deep pride is rooted in the fact that, these many years later, you’re still one of the best.”

Its founders, Drs. Horace H. Hayden and Chapin A. Harris, first established the school in 1840 as the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. According to the School of Dentistry website, BCDS served as a prototype for dental schools gradually established in other American cities. The present dental school evolved through a series of consolidations, the final of which in 1923 when BCDS and the Dental Department of the University of Maryland were combined to create a distinct college of the university.

Dr. Mark A. Reynolds, dean of the School of Dentistry, welcomed the crowd to the celebration, along with Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robison, the evening’s keynote speaker. In addition, several special guests included past deans of the dental school and past presidents of the university.

“Throughout our school’s history, our tradition of excellence in dental education, research and service has been safeguarded by the support of our dedicated alumni and friends,” said Dr. Reynolds. “Your support helps enable our world-class faculty to advance science, offer outstanding service and clinical care and provide an exceptional education for our students.”

Social media: Five rules of engagement

Does your practice maintain a website or social networking page?

Twitter_logo_blue           FB-f-Logo__blue_512If so, according to the ADA Center for Professional Success, the person who manages content—you or someone from your staff—should keep these five rules of engagement in mind:

  • Do not post copyrighted or trademarked content without permission from the content owner or a citation, as appropriate.
  • Do not disclose any of the practice’s confidential or proprietary information.
  • Do not post information about a patient, employee, or another individual, including a testimonial, photograph, radiograph, or even a name, without the appropriate written consent, authorization, waiver and release signed by the patient (or the patient’s guardian).
  • All postings on your social media sites should be monitored for compliance by a designated individual in your practice. Keep in mind that if your practice has a policy to monitor media sites and fails to do so (or fails to act on information discovered through monitoring), it could be exposed to liability. Inappropriate, derogatory, or disparaging postings should be removed at your discretion—err on the side of caution.
  • Maintain final approval on postings, even if you designate an employee to monitor and manage social media. Employees shouldn’t speak on the practice’s behalf unless you have authorized them to do so.

For more information on social media engagement, visit success.ADA.org.

Bang for Your Buck! Prioritizing CE opportunities as a new dentist

We knew all along. We knew there were things we were not learning while we were in school. Now, we’ve made it out. We are practicing dentists. We’ve climbed the mountain, celebrated, taken a deep breath, and turned around to find ourselves at the bottom of another mountain. We know there are things we don’t know. Now what? How do I decide where to start? How do I prioritize what CE warrants my time, effort and money?

Dr. Moon

Dr. Moon

Before elaborating on choosing CE, let me say this: First of all, give yourself a break. You don’t have to save the world your first year as a practicing dentist (even though it kind of feels like you can once you’re treating more than 2-3 patients per day). Use your training to approach cases and treatment conservatively as you build up your confidence and skill level. Don’t get in over your head early. Personally, I believe I spent about six months focusing on my job prior to taking any CE after school.

Once you’re ready to get back at it, make CE choices that benefit you and your patients. After some time practicing, you should have a feeling in your “gut” that if you just knew how to __________ or ________ your patients would benefit and you would feel like a more proficient dentist. Once you have that feeling you are more than halfway there.

I have found that asking myself the question: “Is this good Bang for My Buck?” has consistently helped me make good decisions about how I prioritize my CE. I consider three areas when answering this question to myself:

1. Will learning ____________ benefit the majority of my patients, or a few?

2. Is this topic something very limited or specific, or something I can build upon in the future?

3. Is there a hands-on component to this course, or will I potentially leave this course without the confidence I need to implement what I was suppose to learn?

Answers to these questions usually guide my decisions. I prefer to attend CE that offers benefit to the largest number of patients possible, on a topic or area that can consistently be built upon or integrated into multiple procedures, and especially those that include a hands-on component.

Early on in my career, I found myself focusing on CAD-CAM dentistry and bone grafting procedures. I had come to the realization that the majority of my patients would benefit if I increased my skills in these areas. Also, a basic foundation in these topics is beneficial, but you can learn an extensive amount with either, and continue to build your skills and expand the number of billable procedures you provide. Again, once you know what you want to learn, incorporating a hands-on component will make you that much more confident as you implement your knowledge and new techniques in clinical practice.

For new dentists looking to pick up some valuable CE, I suggest that these two areas are not a bad place to start. Incorporating CAD-CAM dentistry into your practice opens up a lot of treatment options and office scheduling benefits that are not available without it. Also, implant dentistry continues to develop and become a more commonly selected treatment option. Bone grafting and socket preservation procedures help patients obtain optimal treatment results, can often be performed quite easily, and will in many cases be the difference between success and failure concerning fixed prosthodontic and/or implant treatment options. Go get that Bang for Your Buck!

For more information on online and in-person continuing education opportunities, click here.

Dr. Brenden Moon is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and currently serves as Chair of the Illinois State Dental Society New Dentist Committee and sits on the Board of the Illinois Academy of General Dentistry. He began practicing in western Illinois after completing dental school at the University of Mississippi in 2007, and enjoys participating in organized dentistry on the state and national level. Dr. Moon practices in both Public Health and Private Practice settings and is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry, International College of Dentists, Academy of Dentistry International, and the Pierre Fauchard Academy