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Working as a Dentist

Apply Now for the 2014 Executive Management Program

open mouthThe ADA and Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management offers the ADA/Kellogg Executive Management Program exclusively for dentists and their teams.

This intensive business education program curriculum is designed to teach the core principles of an MBA program taught by the same professors in Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management MBA program.

The program meets over 3 sessions; September 19-22, October 24-27 and November 14-18, 2014.  This is not a practice management course.  Here’s the link for more details and the application. Don’t delay — application deadline July 1, 2014.

Independent Contractor or Employee — What Happens with Patient Records?

Dentist Employment Agreement GuideWe’ve blogged before about the difference between classification as an independent contractor vs. as an employee. The difference in classifications has a number of ramifications, including taxes, decisions about how work is to be performed, and other considerations.

The ADA has a new publication — Dentist Employment Agreements: A Guide to Key Legal Provisions that goes into detail about the distinction between the two classifications, and raises a number of issues that could require clarification, including patient records:

Upon termination of the relationship, who will retain patient records? Where will the patient records be stored and how long will they be kept in the event of malpractice litigation? Are there any provisions to access the patient records? Can the dentist make a copy of certain patient records? Generally an employee does not own patient records, where an independent contractor may develop his or her own patient pool and possess ownership rights of patients’ records unless otherwise stipulated in the agreement. If the independent contractor does not possess ownership rights of patients’ records, it is advisable that the independent contractor secure the contractual right to photocopy the records of treated patients to defend in case of a malpractice suit, peer review or dental board action.

Dentist Employment Agreements is not a substitute for a lawyer, but can help you know what questions to ask and discussions to have with your legal advisor. The publication is available from the ADA Center for Professional Success, a member-only resource, exclusively for ADA members. And while you are there, check out the other resources including Be a Great Boss, Checklist for Terminating an Employee and Using Flexible Benefit Plans in your Practice

Practice Ownership — Buy or Build?

Dr LarryJust over 88% of dentists are practice owners, either as solo practitioners or partners. For almost every dentist, ownership becomes a consideration at some point in his or her career.

Does it make more sense to buy an existing practice or start from scratch? ADA New Dentist Now has been asking new dentists what choice they made and why.

Today is a guest post from one of a pair of married dentists, Dr. Larry Dougherty and Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty.

We Built by Dr. Larry Dougherty:

My wife and I chose to do a startup rather than buy an existing practice. Here’s why:

Our Vision: I wanted to start a practice that was built on the vision we had for a dental practice, not shape someone else’s vision into what we wanted.

MBA on the Fly: Supplies, insurance, managing staff – I knew next to nothing about the business side of dentistry even after working several years as an associate. We knew we wanted to develop business systems, not inherit the systems of another dentist, and the slow rhythm of a startup’s early days were an ideal time to understand everything at a deep level.

Pick Your Unknowns: We got advice about what numbers to look for when assessing practices, but I didn’t know what any of that all really meant. Plus, I’d heard enough horror stories of dentists not getting what they expected from practice purchases. Psychologically, you need to decide for yourself: which set of complete unknowns am I more comfortable with?

I’d Do it all Again. Our colleagues that purchased practices probably made more money than we did during those first years of ownership. On the other hand we learned lessons that will serve us well in the long run. There’s a lot of pride that comes with building something from scratch, and that experience can’t be purchased.

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Dr. Larry Dougherty and Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty are the owners of Rolling Oaks Dental in San Antonio, TX.

They gave me an employment contract — now what?

signing a documentThe ADA has a new publication — Dentist Employment Agreements: A Guide to Key Legal Provisions. It’s not a substitute for a lawyer, but can help you know what questions to ask and discussions to have with your legal advisor. Some of the topics covered include:

  • The differences between employees and independent contractors
  • Salary, commission, bonuses and benefits
  • What’s a non-compete clause? And how is it different from non-solicitation?
  • Using mediation and/or arbitration to resolve disputes
  • Points to consider when hiring a lawyer to review an employment agreement

Dentist Employment Agreements is available from the ADA Center for Professional Success, a member-only resource, exclusively for ADA members. And while you are there, check out the other resources including Be a Great Boss, Checklist for Terminating an Employee and Using Flexible Benefit Plans in your Practice

Life as a New Dentist — Practice Owners

Dentists posing with dog

Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty, Dr. Larry Dougherty and Emma

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

ADA New Dentist Now: Who are you?

Ana: I’m Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty, a proud member of Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine class of 2008. I’m the co-owner of a dental practice in San Antonio, Texas with my husband, Dr. Larry Dougherty.

Larry: That’s me, Dr. Larry Dougherty, also Nova 2008. In addition to our practice, which we started from scratch about 2 ½ years ago, I teach dental anatomy one morning every week at the dental school here in San Antonio.

ADA NDN: Is this part one of your master plan or is this “happily ever after?”

Larry: Eventually I’d like to own the building rather than leasing space for the practice. I’d like for us to be known for having one excellent practice, rather than having multiple locations.

Ana: I don’t know that I’ll ever be in a “happily ever after” phase professionally. I have too much to accomplish.

ADA NDN: If you could have any job OTHER THAN dentistry, what would it be?

Ana: I’d be an actress living in Paris. This almost happened!

Larry: I would either be composing music for children’s television shows or working one of those jobs like in MONEYBALL where I analyze statistics to help professional sporting team make personnel decisions.

ADA NDN: Biggest surprise since leaving dental school?

Ana: I thought life would get a lot easier after dental school, but mostly it has just been a new set of challenges. I’m completing my teacher certification in yoga and I hope to teach some of what I’ve learned to my fellow dentists.

ADA NDN: Any advice for someone wanting to follow your career path?

Larry: Get involved with organized dentistry. After school there isn’t that built in group of peers and advisors, and that’s what I get out of being a member.

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

Is it ethical to date a patient?

ETHICS rubricPrinciple 2 of the ADA Code of Ethics relates to nonmaleficience – that is, do no harm.  Section 2G specifically states that dentists should avoid interpersonal relationships that could impair their professional judgment or risk the possibility of exploiting the confidence placed in them by a patient.

So, while the Code does not specifically state that dating a patient is unethical, it does raise some questions to consider.

The ADA ethics hotline is an easy, confidential way for ADA members to get some advice on next steps when navigating an ethical dilemma.

The hotline doesn’t provide legal guidance. Instead it provides a fresh perspective through a consultation with a member of the ADA Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs (CEBJA.)

To access this ADA member benefit, call the toll-free number on your ADA member card and request the ethics hotline. After confirming your membership, you’ll be transferred to a voicemail system and asked to provide some information about your issue.

You’ll receive a personal telephone call from a member of CEBJA. This dentist will then discuss the application of the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct to your situation. The goal is for you to receive a response within two or three days. However, if you request a rapid response, volunteers and staff will work to accommodate your request.

And you are encouraged to familiarize yourself ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct.

Dental Student Loan Repayment and FQHCs

Couple discusses moneyWe’re hard at work on the next issue of ADA New Dentist News, including a piece about FQHCs and dental student loan repayment.

An FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center) is part of the dental safety net — these centers serve locations or populations with limited access to care. They may be located in urban or rural areas. An FQHC is often an integrated medical facility, where a patient has a single chart encompassing all care, including medical, dental and behavioral health.

Some dentists work full-time at a FQHC, while others devote part of their schedules to working for one of these centers. Loan repayment is available for a combined commitment that includes both a minimum number of 20 hours per week, and a minimum number of years of service.

Find out more at this link.

Have you worked at an FQHC? Share your experience in the comments.

Minimize Canceled Appointments

The ADA Center for Professional SuccessCanceled appointments are part of operating a dental practice, but they can be managed to minimize their effect on your bottom line.

The ADA Center for Professional Success has an article about minimizing cancelled appointments that includes:

  • What to say (and avoid saying) when leaving a reminder on a patient’s voicemail
  • How to handle changes to dates or times
  • Providing a constructive response when a patient has changed his mind about treatment

The ADA Center for Professional Success is a member-only resource. While you are there, check out the other resources including Be a Great Boss, Checklist for Terminating an Employee and Using Flexible Benefit Plans in your Practice.

Life as a New Dentist — Transitioning to Ownership

Dr. Tyler Scott

Dr. Tyler Scott

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

Who are you? I’m Dr. Tyler Scott. I’m a proud member of the Class of 2009 of the Ohio State University College of Dentistry. Currently I’m working as an employee in my father’s dental practice, and we are working with advisors to transfer ownership from him to me.

If you could have any job OTHER THAN dentistry, what would it be? That’s a tough one—this has been my dream ever since I was a kid, so I didn’t ever focus on a plan B that wasn’t dentistry. Although the thought of being a PGA teaching professional or a pro photographer has some appeal.

Biggest surprise so far about this career path? Practice management is such an underlying key to success. I’m working to learn the science of running a dental practice.

What’s your schedule like? I’m working in the office four days a week. For fun I like spending time with my family. I also officiate high school wrestling.

Any advice for someone considering your career path? My biggest influence has been my father. I would encourage everyone to find a mentor to help guide you and increase your chances for success at making your dream become reality.

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.

Let’s Talk about Barbecue

BarbequeThe Kansas City Barbeque Society reports that Kansas City has more barbecue restaurants per capita than any other American city.

Apart from the delightful fact that there is such a thing as a barbecue society, this information is important to you for two reasons:

  •  A person who has enjoyed some barbecue is a person who will soon be wishing he or she had some dental floss.
  • The 28th ADA New Dentist Conference is taking place in Kansas City, Missouri July 17-19, 2014 at Sheraton Kansas City, Crown Center (mark your calendar).

The Conference includes:

  • hands-on endodontic and implant CE courses at UMKC School of Dentistry
  • a full day of leadership development
  • Friday night social event at KC Live! In the Power & Light District
  • breakfast-and-learn sessions; all-inclusive lunches

Barbecue consumption by attendees is entirely optional, but highly recommended. If you have a suggestion for Kansas City barbecue, be sure to leave it in the comments!