Reviewed by Alex Jacobson
This book is designed for general dentists, but the principles can be applied to any of the dental specialties. The text is fashioned for professionals about to enter private practice. The introductory chapter, “Choosing a path,” aims to familiarize the reader with the available options; the challenge is to create and implement a career strategy to optimize the reader’s goals and objectives to fit his or her personal skills and the external environment of the practice. The second chapter, “Finding a job,” applies most directly to those who choose to start their career by working for someone else as an associate. Outlined is general advice regarding how to present yourself to the outside world and interact with others that is universally helpful to anyone starting out.
Chapter 3 takes the reader through the key steps of buying an existing practice. It addresses how practices are bought and sold, evaluating a practice, determining a fair price, and understanding purchase documentation. Chapter 4 is “Starting a new practice,” which is both challenging and rewarding. Emphasized are comprehensive research, detailed planning, and realistic expectations. Described are procedures such as establishing a location, building a business plan, buying vs renting office space, equipping a practice, start-up business costs, and avoiding common pitfalls.
Chapter 5 discusses basic insurance coverage and terminology, including malpractice (professional liability), office and business, disability, health, and life insurances. Stressed is the importance of selecting a good insurance advisor.
“Communicating effectively in dental practice” (chapter 6) embraces the technique of communicating with patients and staff, and listening with the intention of understanding. Taking the initial phone call, creating a good impression, staff greeting, initial examination and case presentation, unnecessary communications, and dealing with angry patients are among the items discussed. The objective of chapter 7, “Understanding basic finances,” is to make the reader sufficiently conversant to engage advisors and make business decisions in an environment of uncertainty. Financial acumen is just as important to the success of a practice as clinical expertise. “Complying with dental practice regulations” (chapter 8) emphasizes the need to fully understand, apply, and enforce patient regulations for the protection of the public, employees, and patients.
Managed care payments account for a large share of all patient payments; this means that all dentists or specialists are economically and personally affected to some extent by managed care. Chapter 9 describes the managed care health system. The single most important document in a professional practice is a business plan, the design of which is described in detail in chapter 10. The plan will internally guide your practice, and, externally, it can be used to secure financing. Appendix I is a valuation exercise to bracket the price ranges of 2 hypothetical practices, with 3 methods to evaluate and determine the acceptable range of the purchase price, the market sales, capitalized earnings, and investment yield approaches. Appendix II is a business plan based on business plan 2 in chapter 10.
The editor and the 7 contributors have produced an almost essential, useful, and valuable text at a nominal cost. It is highly recommended.