Monday, November 26, 2012

Life After Dental School: Dreaming & Debt

Today we have a guest post from Abigail from 5th Avenue Acquisitions. Sometimes I forget that there is life after dental school (especially if you already have student debt) and that I need to be educated on how to be a financially savvy businesswoman too. Abigail talks about useful tips to keep in mind early as dental students.

Whether you’re preparing your application for your dream dental school or proudly wearing that school’s sweatshirt, you have reasons you chose to become a dentist. The path toward a career that allows you to control your own time, provide a critical service to the public, and own your own business. That dental career path is paved in gold- or is it?

The cost of a dental school education has been steadily increasing. The American Dental Education Association’s annual Survey of Graduating Seniors reports that the average debt for 2011 dental graduates is $203,374. Before these graduates with new letters behind their name even see their first patient, they carry significant debt into their dreams.


Do you dream of owning your own practice but see debt as the obstacle? After all, you made an investment. At 5th Avenue Acquisitions & Venture Capitalists, I work with dentists everyday to identify their ideal practices. In the process of identifying and financing these purchases, there are a few tips I’ve learned. There are things you can do now to make those dreams of ownership become a reality, maybe more quickly than you think.

1. Wear your two hats proudly and educate yourself for both: dentist & business owner. You are in a unique and potentially highly-profitable career. Right now, you are spending a great deal of time studying the science behind dentistry. In order to enter into your practice with confidence, don’t delay asking and learning where profitability and value lies in a practice. Asking now will allow you to hit the ground running, paying back those loans quickly. (Just a hint: patient files!)

2. Create your ideal practice checklist. Through your learning of practices, you know that not every practice is grown the same. But some are poised for faster growth than others. For example, did you know that rural practices often gross more than urban practices? It comes down to the time and trust of your patients. If you are in an urban location, your patients will be those working close to your office. They often block only a short amount of time, an hour maximum, for their appointment. If you see x-rays are needed, they likely will decline due to their schedule. Additionally, their family will likely not be patients. As a rule of thumb, the family will go to a dentist near their home.

3. Build and maintain relationships now for practice growth later. Maybe you’re continuing your education because you love kids and being a pediatric dentist is your dream. Think about five years into owning your practice, you’re looking at ways to expand. Maybe you have maintained a relationship with your colleague in orthodontics, or another peds colleague focusing on special needs. Either of these individuals could be a potential merger of dental specialty practices for you. It would be a natural synergy. But you need to allot time, in school or post-graduation, to network and continue building on your relationships.

Here’s to your bigger dreaming!

clip_image002 Abigail Widynski is enthusiastic about two topics: growth and expansion. In her role at 5th Avenue Acquisitions and Venture Capitalists (, she feels privileged to talk about these two everyday. Abigail is the founder of the online consultancy, Wild West Content Strategy and serves as a board member for two international children’s organizations: Hope4Kids and the U.S. Executive Board of Grain of Wheat International. Abigail is a graduate of American University and Imperial College Business School in London. Abigail invites you to reach out to her at


  1. this was very informative! thanks!

    1. I know, I learned a lot from this article too. :)