Camaraderie over competition: Why I started a study club
I started thinking about buying a practice in the summer of 2019. I’d been out of school an entire year by then and was already on my second associateship. Acquiring my own business was one of the primary reasons I got into dental school, and that summer, I felt ready.
I first began by peeling down all the information I had, from business classes held in school. My best friend and I went to nearly every lunch-and-learn and took notes. But, when I looked at those notes now, I realized how lost I was. Sure, I had some contacts in the area, but nothing more than that. I did not know how to evaluate a purchase price, select a team of advisors or read a seller dentists’ tax returns. (Yes, this is all important!) This was going to be the biggest decision of my professional life, and I had very little idea of how to go about it.
So, I started the New Dentist Business Study Club in September 2019 and invited new dentists I thought would be interested in learning more about the business side of dentistry.
A lot of people asked me, “Why would you share all this information with your colleagues AKA your future competition?”
To them I said, even in a crowded city like Seattle, us dentists have room to grow. Not all of us will be serving the same patient population, or even the same geographical area. I simply wasn’t worried about competition. What I was worried about was, that in our quest of “staying competitive,” we would lose out on the camaraderie, support and encouragement we can get from each other.
While at school, I had taken a few classes hosted by the Seattle King County Dental Society called the “New Dentist Boot Camp.” A lot of those classes were aimed at understanding practice transitions, financing for your business, and common errors in employment contracts.
Our Study Club has become an extension of those classes. We’ve since had five meetings and 10 full time members. In topics, we have covered how to read a profit and loss statement, understand the demographics for a start-up, follow tax laws for small businesses in our state, and evaluate a practice. We take turns presenting topics, and engage in healthy discussions after. We are hosting our first guest speaker in March and are hoping to become AGD PACE certified eventually so that we can all get CE credit on those long Friday evenings.
The Study Club has mainly helped me realize how much stronger we are as a group. And how much value we can derive from the diversity of experiences amongst us. People say, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” My fellow colleagues, who faithfully attend meetings despite of family obligations, bad traffic and long days at work, inspire me to do better and make the most of my opportunities. And that makes the time and effort put into these meetings totally worth it.
Are you interested in starting a Study Club of your own? Reach out to me and I will show you how I did it.
Dr. Sampada Deshpande is a general dentist practicing in Seattle. A foreign trained dentist from India, she completed her DDS equivalency from the University of Washington in 2018. Sampada is a founding member of the New Dentist Business Study Club and a contributing member of her local Spear Study Club. Originally from Dubai, she looks forward to her weekly Bollywood dance class, hiking the beautiful PNW with her husband, and reading books on Finance & Management. You can reach her directly @dr.deshpande on Instagram.