Finding (and Ensuring) the Right Practice Fit

An illustration of the first day in the office

What does it take to find the right fit for your practice transition?

It all comes down to finding someone who shares your mission, vision, and values. That’s true whether you’re an associate looking for a practice or a long-time owner trying to find a successor.

So how do you assess mission, vision, and values during your search process? They can be hard to articulate — particularly if you haven’t been practicing very long — but in-depth discussions can reveal your preferences and priorities.

Before you get to the point where you’re signing a letter of intent or an associate contract, spend time together in the practice. (Preferably, that means shadowing the practice and doctor at least three times — while patients are being seen — to get a true feel for how the practice runs.) Observe closely to make sure you’re on the same page about:

  • The level of care being delivered
  • How you interact with patients, specialists, and the community
  • Treatment planning
  • How you manage and work with staff

I recently discussed all this with Patrick Chavoustie of the Dental Brief Podcast.

Patrick pointed out that sometimes dentists may not consider all the possibilities when trying to find the right fit, which may cause them to overlook some great practices. He called out the huge advantages that rural practices can offer to would-be owners, particularly as populations shift throughout the country.

Rural and small-town practices typically cost less, with lower overhead. They’re more likely to be 100% fee for service or have in-office financing plans. And with fewer competitors around, dentists can practice their preferred treatments and scope — often while working part time.

The combined high salary and lower costs of living let rural practice owners pay back their student and practice loans faster — while enjoying a thriving career. Some dentists, like Dr. Sara Stuefen, are even striking a great balance between an urban lifestyle and the benefits of a small-town practice.

Another great example of this is Dr. Kristen Sciolino’s story. She purchased a thriving million-dollar practice in small-town Maine less than two years after finishing dental school. The transition went so smoothly in part because the original practice owner shared her mission, vision, and values.

Patrick and I also explored the relationship between finding the right fit and retaining long-term staff and patients, especially right now as staffing shortages persist amidst the Great Resignation. (I recently wrote about how to build the type of practice culture that attracts and retains staff.)

Finally, we talked about ways to streamline the transition for any incoming new dentist. An integration plan can help the entire practice prepare for the change so that the new doctor starts strong from their very first day. You can download your very own sample integration plan, including a timeline with every step.

Download Integration Plan

See also:

Almost There! How to Prepare to Transition from Dental Student to Associate

Three Ways to Determine If You’re Choosing the Right Practice for You

Want a Lucrative Practice with Great Work-Life Balance? Go Rural!

No Surprises: How to Prepare for a Smooth Practice Transition

Ebook: Building Your Integration Plan