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Put Your Name on the Building Sooner with the Mentorship-to-Ownership Path

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Have you always dreamed of owning your own practice? Are you ready to take charge of your future now?

Many dentists do. In fact, ASDA data reports that 86% of all dental students aspire to some type of ownership within 10 years after graduation.

If you are looking for a solid pathway to ownership sooner rather than later, and you are confident that you can handle running a practice now but are unable to obtain financing – don’t despair! We have created a pathway that may just be perfect for you.

It can be daunting to consider ownership when you are still in dental school. But it doesn’t have to be. Rather, you can look for an opportunity that lets you take over a practice while you refine your clinical skills, gain business experience, and establish yourself in a forever-practice.

Around ADA Practice Transitions™ (ADAPT), we call this the Mentorship-to-Ownership path.

How it works

1. Match

We find 2 dentists who share the same values and approach to patient care – and who are completely ready to commit to the transfer of responsibilities. What does that mean? In your case, it means that you are going to commit to taking over all the clinical/business aspects of patient care. Meanwhile, the owner agrees to be there as a consultant and mentor for you when you need it. The owner also commits to showing you the ‘ropes’ regarding the running of the practice and introducing you to the community.

2. Agree

With guidance from your ADA Advisor, both sides agree on the precise terms of the transition, including timeline and sale price. Your associate contract will include a strong base salary. (The owner will be taking a minimal salary but will continue to have benefits.) As you grow the practice your salary will increase as the percentage of production/collections outpaces the base salary. Since the sale price is set from the beginning of the contract, you will be building equity in the practice as you increase productivity.

3. Transition

During the transition period, you take over all the practice’s clinical dentistry, with a few narrowly defined exceptions. Meanwhile, the seller mentors you on both the clinical and business sides of the practice. This period typically lasts about three years, but can adjust depending on your needs and goals.

4. Thrive

The seller confidently steps into retirement, knowing their patients are cared for. You have benefited from hands-on mentorship and established yourself in the practice and community.


Ready to accelerate your path to ownership? Let an ADA Advisor match you with a mentor who will help you refine your clinical skills and prepare you for practice ownership.

Find A Mentor


So how do you know if the Mentorship-to-Ownership path is right for you?

You definitely want to own and you’re ready to do the clinicals – but can’t buy quite yet

You know for certain that you want to buy a practice and be your own boss, ideally within three to five years.

For whatever reason, you’re not quite ready to buy outright. Maybe you need some time to get your finances in order, pay down credit card debt, improve your credit score, and so on. Or maybe you just need some time to build up the confidence to manage a staff and office finances.

If you’re still in dental school or a recent grad, the Mentorship-to-Ownership path can be perfect to build your clinical speed and skillset with mentorship from an experienced dentist who’s willing to share all the tricks they’ve learned with time.

You are independent but want mentorship

The Mentorship-to-Ownership path is ideal if you are looking for a smaller solo practice, typically two to four operatories, where you can manage the current schedule.

Think about a practice that currently runs three days/week: you will confidently be able to manage that same productivity in five. The payoff comes as your skillset and speed grow. You will have the opportunity to vastly increase production and allow the practice to grow with your skills!

To succeed in this type of transition, you need to be comfortable making all the decisions right from the start, even when things get tough. After all, the selling dentist is ready to step away from the day-to-day clinical work.

With this career path, the selling owner will commit to providing consults or advice for tough situations. As you talk with potential sellers, discuss what this might look like and how you prefer to work together. For example, the seller may start off being on-site a couple of mornings a week to help with more advanced procedures, eventually tapering down to two days a month or phone consultations only. The key here is open communication, clearly defined expectations, and mutual respect between the two of you.

You want to build up a practice

Buying a long-established practice gives you a great launchpad for your career – and also gives you an opportunity to shape the practice over time. Can you see a diamond in the rough and look beyond potentially dated décor or equipment? Look for a practice with minimal competition, strong patients and staff, solid policies, and clinically sound work. You can make arrangements with the owner regarding updating equipment – after all, you are the one building the practice up again!

You’ll be most successful if you can identify a practice with “good bones” that can grow in a direction consistent with your overall expectations for the vision of your ideal practice.

You’re open to smaller market opportunities

Many experienced owners in smaller towns or rural areas are struggling to find buyers as they approach retirement. That’s putting many communities in dental care deserts, where patients suddenly have to drive long distances for care. And that means that more and more people in these underserved communities are foregoing treatment altogether.

That’s why some of the best Mentorship-to-Ownership opportunities exist in these smaller towns or rural areas.

You can buy a practice with a relatively small price tag and still have money left over to buy a house. Work-life balance can be fantastic, as the low overhead and lack of competition make a very comfortable living possible on a single part-time dental income. (Accountants will say that rural practices can be some of the most profitable they encounter.) And to top it off, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) offers loan repayment programs to many dentists who move to underserved areas. Several states have similar programs.

And note that if you work fewer hours in a place with a lower cost of living, you can have more time – and budget – to live your ideal life. Dr. Christy Rens took a chance on a small-town practice and found it offers an ideal work-life balance that lets her work around her three children’s needs. The Rens family even bought a plane to take family trips.

See how other ADAPT supporters have described their small-market careers, including Dr. Daniel HallDr. Jim, and Dr. Dean Hussong.

Take Ownership Sooner

Are you ready to take over all clinical aspects of a practice while getting the mentorship you need? Does Mentorship-to-Ownership sound right for you? Learn more about the Mentorship-to-Ownership path.

Find A Mentor

Topics: purchase a practice


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