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Letters: Selling your practice

April 01, 2019 I enjoyed reading Dr. Nigel Schultz’s perspective of the young dentist seeking to potentially take over his practice (“It’s A Good Life,” March 4 ADA News).

Dr. Schultz is correct in his assertion that “I’m not selling something on Craigslist to the first one who shows up with the money.” He put 30 years of his life into building his practice and cultivating the relationships with patients and community.

However, having bought my own practice within the last year from a retiring dentist, allow me to share the other side of the coin. Thankfully, I had the foresight to shadow many dentists throughout dental school and learn about the business as well. I went through a broker and did not have to use a consultant like the young doctor in the narrative. But many of my dental school peers are going down this road, and their path should not be readily dismissed. Allow me to explain.

The young dentist recently graduated dental school/residency. Having received little-to-no education on the business aspect of dentistry, he is scared of the prospect of ownership. He is equally scared of his monster student loans. This is exacerbated by all the talk of corporate dentistry taking over and putting small private practice out of business. He is told by the corporate reps about the comfortable lifestyle he or she can lead if he sells out to them with benefits and all.
At the same time, he listens to the invaluable advise of dental podcasters like Shared Practices, Dentaltown, Dental Entrepreneur, Dental Hacks, etc. telling him how many millions he will leave on the table over a career by bypassing ownership.

He didn’t sign up for dental school to be a corporate pawn. He doesn’t want to end up one day doing dentistry at Walmart or CVS or treatment planning according to the goals of his nondentist owner. He wants to give his patients the care and respect they deserve.

Armed with the knowledge that he will need to find his way into ownership quickly in order to practice ethical dentistry the way he was taught, as well as set himself up for financial independence, he starts looking for the right practice but doesn’t know where to start.

Albeit, there are consultants out there who may take advantage of the young dentist, with due diligence and research he will find plenty of excellent consultants who have been through his exact journey and will help him find and succeed in the right practice.

Understand that despite being very confident in his clinical skills, the young doctor may not trust his own judgment on the business side, especially when there is so much at stake including family relocation, new practice loan, etc. There have also been stories of young doctors relocating for associateships with the promise of ownership that never materialized, leaving the young doc trapped. A qualified consultant will help him navigate the choices and reach the best decision.

It was very generous of Dr. Schultz to say, “I still wanted to talk, even if he wasn’t interested in this practice,” and giving him his personal contact information. The dentist certainly has a ton of knowledge to gain from Dr. Schultz. Just consider not being dismissive of his decision to use a consultant who knows his personal situation and skillset. It may even save you some time and headache. If the practice is a good match and the consultant is qualified, there will be an excellent transition for yourself, your patients and the young doctor and his family.

Joseph Schwimmer, D.D.S.
Point Pleasant, New Jersey