With a desire to own a practice, a need to learn practice management
When I was in dental school, I never really paid much attention in our only business course. This class didn’t meet every week and mainly involved completing online modules that were created by another Texas dental school. The modules were meant to simulate many areas of practice management: creating a business plan for a startup; creating a budget for a new build; personnel management information. This course was in the midst of the craziness of my fourth year.
I was trying to finish all of those removable requirements and didn’t see the need to take this practice management course seriously. After all, I was planning on being an associate for most of my career, right?
It wasn’t until last year that I felt the desire to be a business owner.
I’ve mentioned multiple times on this blog how grateful I am for the incredible associateship I landed after graduation. I’ve learned so much clinically, and more recently started asking questions about the business side. Another advantage to my associateship is how transparent the owners of my practice are. No question I ask is ever denied an answer due to “confidential information.”
Early on in my associateship, I was even invited to meetings with a consultant that went through a breakdown of all the numbers related to a dental practice. Some of these numbers were things I never even thought were a part of owning a practice. There is so much you don’t learn in dental school about running a business.
Where do dentists go for business education?
There are multiple companies and consultants that will help you run your business “so you don’t have to.” In my opinion, what’s the point in owning something for somebody else to manage?
A quick Google search showed me that even the ADA has an Executive Program in Dental Practice Management. This online program offers a convenient way to learn more about how to run a business.
Last fall, the Texas Dental Association announced an Executive Management for Texas Dental Association Members program with the McCombs Texas Executive Education at the University of Texas at Austin. A colleague of mine decided she wanted to take these courses for future practice ownership goals, so I followed suit. The program consists of four Fridays and Saturdays, once a month from January to April. The courses are held in Austin, Texas, on the UT campus. There are just under 30 participants in the program from across Texas. My colleague and I are easily the newest dentists in the group (and the only non-business owners). The first two classes in January focused solely on marketing. It was interesting to get actual business education on this topic, rather than what a dental marketing firm may tell you what you need to do.
The price associated with this course is very reasonable. The TDA sees this program solely as a member benefit for dentists to expand their business education. I’m looking forward to the next three sessions of this highly interactive program. I’ve already learned so much from the professors and the experiences of the other dentists. I highly recommend any new dentist to see what other business management programs are available in their areas.
Perhaps if I paid more attention in my only business course in dental school, I’d feel a little more comfortable with potentially starting a business. However, business education from the same professors as an MBA program is invaluable.
Dr. Katie Stuchlik is a New Dentist Now guest blogger. She grew up in Houston and graduated from The University of Texas School of Dentistry in 2015. Katie is a general dentist in a large group practice in Katy, Texas (a quick 25 minute commute from Houston). When she’s not working or staying involved with the Greater Houston Dental Society and the Texas Dental Association, she’s usually posting pictures of her miniature Australian shepherd puppy or her CrossFit workouts.