I subscribe to a number of dental related blogs and newsletters. Some are better than others, but all of them provide a unique perspective on the pulse of dentistry. One of them that recently intrigued me is the newsletter from Dr. Mark Cooper's "Mastery" program. I'll admit its at times a bit dramatic, but probably not too far off base. He is predicting a MASSIVE change in private practice dentistry in this country. He speculates that a huge number of private practice dentists (especially solo) are going to experience tougher and tougher time in the next decade or two. Corporate dentistry is expanding at an accelerating rate, cost are climbing, reimbursement and collections or leveling off or in some cases dropping. PPO's are taking over the insurance scene by storm and solo practice's are slowly going the way of the buffalo.
So, what does all of this have to do with young dentists and new dental grads? Well, you should be keeping your eye on the changing tide...Our generation of dentistry is going to be drastically different than the baby boomer generation before us. We've seen technology and research revolutionize the way we practice and MANAGE our practices. When I was in dental school I was the LAST class to learn radiography while using film...since then, digital has without a doubt become the only option. Practice management software has made practices more efficient and organized, and patient management software has allowed up to communicate with patients more effective than ever before. All of these changes INSIDE the practice have given general dentists the opportunity to revolutionize the "dental experience" for patients. Gone are the days of bite your lip and bare it dentistry...where patient are made to fit into the uncomfortable and inconvenient box dentistry has made for them (think belt driven hand pieces, waiting 30-minutes for appointments, no anesthetic, having to return to the office 2 or 3 times just to get a new crown). It's the 21st century for crying out loud! It's time we catered to patients and offered them something better, more comfortable and more convenient.
Dentistry IS changing and is on the cusp of a HUGE swing. Solo practice will become more and more difficult. Group practice will be able to offer patients MORE...Corporate dentistry will start to lead the way (unfortunately). We have to adapt...YOU have to adapt.
NEW DENTISTS: HOW DO YOU PLAN TO PRACTICE IN THE FUTURE?
I recommend that you educate yourself about the coming changes and position yourself to adapt and succeed in private practice. I guarantee you that this new era will not allow you to fall in line with the previous generations practice management style and strategy. A NEW ERA IS STARTING...BE PREPARED.
Do you want to simply focus on procedures, and leave the management to someone else? Do you want to be your own boss and GROW a SUCCESSFUL private practice? If so, this is going to get harder and harder to do...You've got HUGE debt, cost of capital is increasing, operating costs are increasing and now you have to compete with corporate dentistry who is doing it faster, easier and cheaper than most solo practices. There are ways to position yourself for success. Learn how to do this from the start...because as time ticks by and you fall farther and farther behind, dentistry and your practice are going to start to control your life...not the other way around. Building a group practice and effective BRAND will be essential to forging ahead. Marketing and focusing on the "patient experience" will have a bigger and bigger impact on your practice success. Good luck, and stay tuned!
Cole Brenny DDS