Happy one year birthday of the New Dentist Business Study Club!
The journey to ONE has been long and interesting. I remember exactly where I was when I first thought about starting something like this. I was in the Bay Area, helping my sister raise her newborn infant. Our parents had flown in to see my little niece. True to his core, my dad wanted to ‘teach’ us something- make our time together productive. In the middle of baby playtime and diaper changing, he taught my sister and I four lectures on accounting and economics. Professionally, I knew that practice ownership was my next step, so these lectures were perfect. However, the road to ownership appeared murky. My dad was not a dentist and did not know how to interpret the P and L of a dental practice.
Fast Trak by igniteDDS
My parents soon left the Bay Area and I was preparing to head back to Seattle. Coincidentally, I came across a conference called Fast Trak, put on by igniteDDS in San Francisco. They were going to teach attendees how to make an associateship count, read employment contracts, evaluate a practice, find your why and develop a personal brand. I couldn’t have been more excited, and with a little push from my dad, I signed up.
The conference turned out to be better than expected. Students and new dentists in attendance were motivated and driven- all excited about practice ownership. One dental student taught me about what would later become my favorite podcast of all time- Shared Practices.
Needless to say, I came away from the 2 day conference enlightened and excited.
Budgeting and traveling as a new dentist
3 days later, I was back at my associateship and feeling the effects of the post-conference ‘high’ drain. That was the problem! The excitement about attending a conference tends to be short-lived, and to replicate it, most dentists travel consistently for fun CE. I couldn’t afford that much travel, I needed to save for a future practice. I had also just signed on to a 10 month-long implantology program at the Washington Academy of General Dentistry that took up many weekends.
Instead I thought, hey why not start a Study Club? It’ll be just me and my friends. All new graduates who are interested in learning the business side of dentistry and can’t really afford frequent conferences.
I immediately began creating a word document explaining what the Study Club would be like. Meetings would be held once or twice a month on topics involving the business side of dentistry. There was no promise of dinner or CE because we were just a small group gathering.
We started with 5 members in September 2019. Today we are more than 15 and still growing. I am proud to say that we are attracting only the most driven, motivated new dentists- a culture I am excited to be a part of. It is nice to be around people who push you to do better, challenge your goals, and teach you something new. I can say this about all of my Study Club friends.
When the pandemic hit, a lot of traditional Study Clubs took time to go virtual. Some Study Clubs waited months before having a meeting because owner dentists and specialists were busy managing their teams and PPP loans. We, on the other hand, were all associates and did not have that stress. What we had, instead, was a lot of time.
- We made the group decision to go virtual and increased our meeting frequency to once a week,
- Began an in-depth dive on learning how to evaluate practices and deducing net income for an owner doctor,
- Learned when to consider opening a start up vs an acquisition,
- Learned how to hire the ideal team, pay them well and bonus when they go above and beyond, and
- Worked hard on improving our leadership and communication skills.
A new direction
One of the Study Club members felt particularly inspired with the direction our Club was taking. Empowered, she took on the leadership role of Vice President. Together, we decided to pursue the non-profit route, charge a small but reasonable fee, and look for new members to impact.
Getting Isabella on board, made me realize what ‘delegate and elevate’ actually means. When you find a person whose vision closely aligns with yours, who not only has the capacity to do the duties, but actually ‘wants’ to do it, it is magic!
2 weeks in and she was already preparing our annual budget and coming up with a marketing strategy. It has been amazing seeing her progress and watch her grow! I realize now that the New Dentist Business Study Club is much more than just teaching business and leadership skills to its members. It is about building a community where we all trust each other and are invested in each others’ success. It is about influencing others to think out of their comfort zone. One of our members learned so much about associateship contracts, that she was inspired to find a better job. She successfully negotiated for a higher pay and better schedule, ‘ I would have never known all of this was possible, had it not been for the Club’.
Vision for the future
Of course, a lot of the times I am tempted to re think the vision for the Club, especially mid week when I am bogged down by the usual whirlwind. ‘You have too many things going on, I am worried about you’, my mom frequently tells me. To me, though, ‘the joy lies in the hustle’. On those late nights when I’m working my way through a new presentation or scrolling through old Dental Economics articles – I can’t help but think how many people, other than little ol’ me, our content is impacting. I could be learning all of this by myself, but that would not be as fun!
To teach others is to learn twice.
Do you have a passion project that grew similarly, when you were least expecting it to? The pandemic probably was one of the ‘best’ things that could have happened to the Study Club; going virtual, having the ability to invite more members, even those not in Seattle, and doubling our network.
Needless to say, we are excited for the future and looking upwards and onwards! #keeplearning