The Roanoker - July/August 2017 - 59
DENTISTRY | LOOKING BACK
LESS THAN 1
There has been an evolution towards multiple doctor practices. The primary advantage is shared overhead costs. The other and just as important advantage is having
more contact with a colleague. Dentists who work alone can have a sense of isolation.
Having someone you can discuss patient and staff issues with is helpful.
What drives many new dentists towards the group practice model is student debt.
I came out of school with a debt that at the time seemed huge. But it is a fraction of
what these students are now facing. According to the ADA, the average dentist graduates with debt between $250,000 and $400,000.
Add to that at least the same amount to start or purchase a practice, and the challenge is huge. Many starting dentists need to be in an employment situation to tackle
the debt. Of dentists who have graduated in the past 10 years, 44 percent are employees. Those who have the desire to own their practice can find available practices to
buy. The baby boomers are getting ready to retire. Today, 52 percent of male dentists
are over 55 years old.
Besides size of practice, another choice a dentist can make is style of practice-how
many patients a day to see and what procedures to offer. There is the choice of what
insurance plans to accept or whether to accept any at all. Practice styles generally fall
into high-volume, insurance-based practices or low-volume fee-for-service practices.
There are pros and cons to each style and a dentist may decide based on business goals
and the dentist's own temperament.
What makes us different from the medical model is this practice choice. Almost
gone are the independent physicians. Aren't most working for the large medical corporations? Are they happy? I heard from several physicians of my generation who
are not. They started out in medicine with the vision of being independent but that
reality doesn't exist anymore. There is a trend of physicians' children going to dental
school. I don't have any facts to back that up but I see it happening. I enjoyed the
independence of being the practice owner.
And I should mention that last year I sold my practice to Dr. Anne Newman, who
is both a perfect example of the new wave of young dentists coming to the area, and
an exception to the non-ownership trend. She was able to pursue the practice purchase after working at a large dental office for a few years.
I hope I was as much a help to her in the transition as John Mingledorff was to
me back in '83. I
IN GENDER SPLIT
THERE ARE OVER
DENTISTS IN THE
JULY/AUGUST 2017 | 59