Mid-Career Practice Options

Dentist consulting with financial advisors on practice transition strategies in an office setting.

As we conclude another year and step into a new one, like many dentists, it’s natural for us to reflect on both our personal and professional lives. Fortunately, many of the goals we set as young dentists have materialized – a thriving practice, a comfortable home, financial stability, a happy family life, and other accomplishments. Achieving these goals require hard work, debt repayment, quality patient care, and navigating the business aspects of dentistry despite lacking formal business training during our dental education.

During this annual review, some may be content or even delighted with their achievements. Others might acknowledge, even if only to themselves, that they’ve fallen short of their original aspirations. Most of us fall somewhere in between – satisfied but not elated with our current status. However, these accomplishments have brought new responsibilities and obligations to our families, patients, and financial institutions, adding pressure to either sustain success or ensure the future years of your practice.

In light of these responsibilities, 1it’s crucial to evaluate practice transition options – whether to buy, sell, merge, hire management companies and experts, or even consider a career change. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, it’s essential to assess these options and formulate a written plan rather than relying on hope.

Many of these considerations revolve around financial issues, as our practice serves not only as a job but also as a potential source of income. For those yet to achieve financial security, the practice remains a vital income source. The question then becomes, “How do we treat our practice as an asset?”

Mid-career dentists, having conquered challenges and reached a plateau, often find that time away from the office, family, and personal well-being outweighs the pursuit of extra income. Quality of life takes precedence. However, financial obligations stemming from original goals persist, leading some to ponder their options.

If you value quality of life but haven’t attained financial security, waiting several more years to sell your practice may not be the most prudent choice. Selling part or all of it today, converting it from a non-interest-bearing asset to an interest-bearing one, presents intriguing possibilities. Reinvesting the equivalent amount tax-deferred for several years while maintaining clinical income and reducing managerial responsibilities creates a win-win scenario. Creative transitions, such as defined benefit plans and selling practice increments, offer opportunities to achieve these goals.

Facing mid-career decisions, whether due to financial uncertainties or burnout, you do have options beyond mere hope. These options demand a well-thought-out plan for the future. The specifics will vary for each individual, but a common factor is determining your needs – financial and emotional. Consulting with professionals, evaluating alternatives, and collaborating with financial advisors and CPAs can help you arrive at a plan to make the final segment of your career less stressful and more successful.

Maintaining your current course might be the best plan, however, dentists should assess their options now and develop a plan to meet both financial and emotional needs, especially while still in good health and able to make voluntary choices. As you embark on the new year, consider creating a planned pathway to security.