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ADA13

Here’s How They Did It — Real Talk from Dentists in Private Practice

Dr. Chris Salierno

Dr. Chris Salierno

Operations, human resources, finances, marketing — there is so much that goes into being an owner. If you missed the new dentist panel discussion about the nitty-gritty of private practice ownership, you can stream it at ADA.org/ADA365, the online extension of ADA13. Access to ADA365 is free to ADA members; non-members can sign up for $50.

Both dentists who bought into an existing practice and dentists who started practices from scratch were represented on the panel, moderated by Dr. Chris Salierno. The group tackled topics ranging from patient recall to search engine optimization, addressing all those non-clinical skills that aren’t a part of school, but are critical to your success. Stream the entire program at ADA.org/ADA365.

Life as a New Dentist — Solo Practitioner

The ADA is made up of individuals — here’s one of them.

Dr. Joseph Laudie

Dr. Joseph Laudie

Who are you? I’m Dr. Joseph Laudie. I’m a proud member of the Class of 2009 of the University of Missouri – Kansas City, and I am a solo practitioner in a dental practice in Emporia, Kansas.

If you could have any job OTHER THAN dentistry, what would it be? I had previous business experience before becoming a practice owner, and I could see myself running some other sort of business, as well as teaching others how to be successful in business.

Why did you choose being a solo practice owner? I knew that I wanted to own a practice after completing my GPR. I found a thriving practice where the owner was retiring. There wasn’t really a transition; he stepped out and I stepped in. On balance, things went well, and patient retention has been fantastic!

Biggest surprise so far about what you do? Being a business owner can be a headache and involve long hours in the office! While I enjoy directing my business, I cannot do it all by myself. I have found that it’s important for me to do what I do best and let others do what they do best to be successful. For example, offering care to my patients is what I am good at, but designing and building my new website is best left to the web developers. As often as I can, I bring on other professionals to help me with the important parts of my business that aren’t directly connected to patient care like tax planning, marketing, insurance and so forth.

What’s your schedule like? I work four days each week from 8 until 5 with an hour lunch. I see two hygiene patients each hour, and I have two assistants working chairside, with another two members of our team at the front desk. I’m proud to say we’ve increased the number of active patients in the practice by 63% over the past three years, so we are a busy practice!

What are you doing for fun? I have three kids, with a fourth on the way, so that occupies a lot of my time. Family and church helps me to balance out the experience of being a business owner. I am a ham radio operator. And recently I completed the Dirty Kanza bike race – nothing like biking up hills on gravel roads for a couple hundred miles to relax and unwind!

Any advice for someone considering your career path? A GPR was very helpful for me. Not only did it boost my speed and abilities, it broadened my education giving me exposure to dental implants, wisdom teeth, bone grafting and medically complex patients. Plus I am the only general practice dentist in a 13 county radius who is licensed to offer IV sedation. I practice in a rural area and being able to offer these services has been a real plus to my patients.

What are your plans for the future? This is the early phase of my “master plan.” I hope to bring on a second dentist as a practice partner, and to increase the number of referrals I receive from my colleagues who don’t offer the same mix of procedures that I do.

Interested in sharing your experience as a new dentist? If you are fewer than ten years out of dental school we’d love to hear from you! Contact us at newdentist@ada.org.

Life as a New Dentist — Community Health Center

Dr. Kari Cunningham

Dr. Kari Cunningham

Life as a New Dentist — Community Health Center

The ADA is made up of individuals — here’s one of them.

Who are you? I’m Dr. Kari Cunningham. I’m a proud member of the Class of 2010 of Case Western Reserve University. I completed a pediatric residency in 2012, and today I am a pediatric dentist in a community health center in Cleveland, OH.

If you could have any job OTHER THAN dentistry, what would it be? Event planner! I am always planning a social event or fundraiser for the organizations I’m involved in. I have the best time coming up with a theme, creating invitations, promoting the event and seeing it all come together!

Why did you choose this career path? I am a National Health Service Corps scholarship recipient, so I am happy to be fulfilling my service commitment so close to my hometown. I’m passionate about serving the underserved.

Biggest surprise since leaving dental school? I was asked to be an adjunct faculty at dental school! Giving lectures to first year students is encouraging to me — they are so motivated and willing to learn. I just completed University of California, San Diego’s three week faculty development program Addressing the Oral Health Needs of the Underserved.

What’s your schedule like? My job is 8:30 – 5:30. Outside of that I serve on the executive committee of our alumni association, I am active in National Health Service Corps, and being part of a sickle cell family, I have joined the board of the American Sickle Cell Anemia Association. I have learned to better manage my schedule, and I no longer say yes to everything!

What are you doing for fun? I just bought a house, and I’m enjoying the process of turning that into a home. I love spending time with my family and our Cunningham Sunday Fundays. And I’ve got a pediatric dentistry mission trip planned to Kenya that will overlap with my 30th birthday. This will be my second trip to Africa in ten years, and I’m very excited!

Any advice for someone considering your career path? If serving the underserved is your passion, look into the National Health Service Corps and other entities that can assist you in sharing your craft with our nation’s most vulnerable population. For the scholarship, apply early and apply often! Look into loan repayment opportunities as well. Learn about underserved populations and realize how you can play a significant role in improving the lives of many. If you like teaching, find a mentor and volunteer to facilitate small group sessions at your school or serve as a liaison to a pre dental society. Our future colleagues want to learn from you!

What are your plans for the future? Ever since I was a resident I have tracked my immediate, short and long-term goals. Working at this health center as its first and only pediatric dentist is an early part of my plan. Becoming a private-practice owner and teaching in a dental school are my long term goals.

Interested in sharing your experience as a new dentist? If you are fewer than ten years out of dental school we’d love to hear from you! Contact us at newdentist@ada.org.

Real Talk from New Dentists in Private Practice

Dr. Jill McMahon

Dr. Jill McMahon

The panel discussion Real Talk from New Dentists in Private Practice just concluded. The wide-ranging conversation covered topics from improving efficiency to marketing the practice.

According to the most recent ADA Survey of Dental Practice just over 88% of dentists are owners, either as solo practitioners or partners. For almost every dentist, ownership becomes a consideration at some point in his or her career.

Earlier this year ADA New Dentist News spoke with several new dentists who were new to practice ownership to get their suggestions on how to approach ownership. Dr. Jill McMahon, who graduated from dental school in 2007, is not just the first dentist in her family, she’s also the first small business owner.

“At first it was scary, thinking about all the new responsibilities, and of course the new financial obligations that go with ownership,” Dr. McMahon remembers. “What helped a lot was connecting with other dentists who were in my situation and realizing that if they could do it, I could do it too!”

If you are attending the 2013 ADA Annual Session, you have lots of opportunities to connect with other new dentists. But if you aren’t at the meeting, what’s on your action plan to make sure you can get that real talk from other new dentists exploring their private practice options? Share your suggestions in the comments. And if you don’t have any networking events on your calendar, may we suggest the 2014 New Dentist Conference July 17-19 in Kansas City, Missouri.