A Buyer’s Guide to Successful Practice Transitions

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Excerpt from the book:

The foundational knowledge required to transition, build, and manage a dental practice is as important to your success as your ability to provide outstanding clinical care.

I’ve learned what I know about practice economics the same way most dentists have; by repeating what works and doing my best not to repeat the screw-ups. My goal in writing this book is to share these experiences (including the screw ups) to make the transitions you face in a career of professional practice more efficient.  These transitions may be from professional student to professional, from associate to owner, or from owner to thriving practitioner. The truth is, as a professional you are already in an elite group and your success, however you define this, is likely to be achieved simply based on your goal driven nature and ability to execute the tasks required to achieve these goals. But this process can be knowledge and evidence driven. It can be founded on principles that are presently not being taught by many professional schools, rather than guesses, hopes, or intentions.

Presently, there are monumental knowledge gaps that exist between dental school and owning a dental practice. The professional custom is widely accepted that dentists get their clinical training in dental school and learn how to practice “as they go”. What complicates this is that vulnerability in amongst dentists is often not permitted. We, as a profession, love to share our successes but fear judgment from our peers (and perhaps the ghosts of our clinical demonstrators) when admitting our failures. But the truth is failure is a remarkably important reality that offers the opportunity for correction and success. With all the hours of intensive theoretical and clinical training we have completed, errors in clinical judgment can still happen [audience gasps here]. If you haven’t experienced any clinical failures, then you haven’t done very much dentistry. The important part about clinical failure is that you know how to make it right for the patient and you minimize repetition of errors that may have contributed to your failure. My point here is that with thousands of hours of clinical education, errors are still possible. So with few to no hours of practice business education, how many errors can we expect? The answer is tons. As health care professionals, we pride ourselves on being smart people. Society tells us we are in the upper echelon of intelligence: “Son, you should be a doctor or a lawyer.” But it doesn’t mean we inherently understand how to run a practice simply because we have the ability to place a composite with undetectable margins (except on the distal of an eight of a gagger).

Most of us graduated exhausted but with a sense of expectation and maybe even a sense of entitlement. And there’s nothing wrong with expecting something for all that streducation (stress + education = streducation). The problem is we are not taught how to get it. Typically, in dental school we are taught that it’s all uphill. Nothing is easy; in fact some of the educational hurdles are harder than they need to be. But then you graduate and really start to learn how to be a dentist. Shortcuts are hard to find on your own and few seem to share what they’ve learned that might accelerate your journey. But we’ll all be there to listen to your successes and expect to hear nothing but boastful stories of how many new patients you must be getting and how you placed seventeen implants in the last half hour.

What if there was a resource to make something easier for dentists (not that we need it, because we are perfect)? What if after graduation someone came to you and said, “Congratulations, can I help you get to where you want to go easier than if you did it alone?”…