For new dentists, the initial few years out of dental school are critical for building our reputation, expertise, and philosophy.
After struggling for 2 ½ years as a full-time associate dentist, I started feeling comfortable practicing dentistry and began to appreciate the significance of my brand and position. I am blessed with an excellent memory and compassion for my patients; especially those that experience any nervousness or anxiety about the dentist, like so many do. This outlook paved the way for my successful transition to practice ownership despite some initial professional and personal obstacles.
I was able to set up Plaza Dental Group in 1999 which has nurtured a reputation for excellence over the years. Our close doctor-patient associations have made us one of the leading dentist offices in Iowa.
In 1999, I started to consider purchasing a practice as I believed that I could manage it quite efficiently. Despite how inexperienced I was at 27 years of age; I appreciate that I had the courage. It didn’t take me long to find and an excellent practice. I was also fortunate enough to get the support and guidance from the previous owner of the practice, who was a brilliant dentist, in making a smooth and successful transition.
Initially, for a few years, I faced many hurdles; the foremost being a naive of how to improvement the skills of my team. Those were also the times when I was going through a crazy professional schedule; however, the birth of my baby boy in 1999 and my baby girl in 2000, made my life full. Notwithstanding the challenges of raising two children along with meeting the constant demands of running a practice smoothly, I kept pushing on.
Even without the prior knowledge of practice management and marketing skills, I was able to lead the business in a positive direction, utilizing my dentistry skills to care for my patients to the best of my ability. Another factor that contributed heavily to the evolution of my practice in the first couple of years was adding additional providers to manage more patient inflow.
Then came a brief period when dentistry did not interest me. Everything seemed very chaotic because we did not have a strong sense as to how the business was maturing. Coincidentally during this time, I developed an interest in marketing and felt the need to manage the types of patients arriving in the office. I also had the idea of starting a second office in my desired area, specifically, for patients requiring treatments and procedures like Invisalign, oral sleep apnea appliances, and more. This led to the opening of my new satellite office in another location in Iowa.
However, in a short while, after inaugurating my satellite office, I realized that I was not appropriately equipped to manage both my practices. Soon, in my quest for finding a way to improve the situation, I decided to sell my original practice. This decision produced favorable results as my original practice of 7 years had generated good production over the years.
I started managing my brand-new practice with a loyal assistant in 2006. Beginning a new dental practice just before a recession with two dentists and challenges of motherhood, with adding another daughter in 2003 and a son in 2007 could not stop me in my tracks! I was confident of my freshly acquired marketing skills, and we moved on with our hard work towards growing our new practice. Meanwhile, I learned the art of people management as well as practice management.
My brilliant business manager, was instrumental in formulating an excellent business plan that was very practical, replicable and exceptionally patient-service oriented. This enabled me to stay focused on practice marketing, patient care and producing quality dental care. After overcoming the challenges of the recession, we matured into a healthy practice of 3 dentists.
I have always firmly believed that if patients aren’t properly educated on dental issues, then it’s easy for them to decline the treatment. I gained the insight shortly that while discussing treatments with patients, I must be clear and relatable. My patients appreciate the fact that I take the time to explain the condition to them in a way they understand, and that they ultimately feel cared for.
I have come a long way to understand that I must be purposeful with treating my patients to ensure that I’m not overwhelming them with unspecific treatment plans that don’t focus on resolving their primary concerns. I developed the will-power to stand behind my diagnosis and never hesitated for a moment in cases where I may have been uncertain about what to do.
My viewpoint is that as long as I provide proper treatment to my patients, all else falls into place. I care for each patient like my family member. I believe once your patients start to trust you, they will generate referrals for you and this is how you form your reputation and strong community of patients. I am proud of my professional and personal growth, even though I was not aligned with my objective at the beginning of my career. Now, as my dream, my passions, and my goals are aligned, I am content more than ever.