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Interesting Dentistry, Fast Loan Pay-Off: One Dentist’s Success Story

Dr. Gabe Holdwick has learned he would rather be from a place rather than just live in a place. The difference may seem subtle, but it makes for a more satisfying career and lifestyle.

Dr. Holdwick grew up in Harbor Beach, Michigan, a town of 1,700 people perched on the shores of Lake Huron. His family has lived in town for five generations, over 175 years. 

He knew that dentistry would give him options to take his career anywhere — but he also hoped to return to Harbor Beach to enjoy the lifestyle and practice “geographic arbitrage.”

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Topics: Real Talk, Small Market

Living and Thriving in Vacationland

Ask Dr. Kala Foster about the advantages of working in a small-town dental practice, and she rattles off a long list: doing dentistry her way, appreciative patients, great work-life balance, a fantastic place to raise a family, and all the benefits of practice ownership. 

Dr. Foster lives in Gaylord, Michigan, the center of what is known as Michigan’s “Vacationland” lake region. With 3,600 residents, Gaylord is the “big town” in the area, drawing vacationers from all over the state while serving as the region’s economic hub. 

After living in metropolitan Detroit, Dr. Foster moved to Gaylord three years ago. Since then, she has built a great life in her new home. 

“We can do ‘vacation stuff’ in the evenings. Boating, snowmobiling, everything’s right here,” she says. “I always have 3-day weekends.” 

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Topics: Real Talk, Small Market

The Best of Both Worlds: Rural Practice, Urban Lifestyle

In this week's profile of rural dentists building amazing careers, Dr. Sara Stuefen shows us how she enjoys the best of both worlds: a rural practice and an urban lifestyle.

As a member of the ADA’s New Dentist Committee, Dr. Stuefen often spoke to dental students who assume they need to practice in an urban area to live the type of life they want. But she’s quick to point out, “When you graduate, you don’t know what practice style is right for you until you try. There are so many great opportunities in small towns, and you can afford to have the latest technology!”

She also dispels a common misconception: “Rural doesn’t have to mean four hours to the nearest Target. Besides, you can order everything online these days.”

After graduating from the University of Iowa, Dr. Stuefen wanted to work in a small town where she could know her patients and make a difference. “I know I flourish in a smaller environment,” she says. “I like feeling connected to my patients and being able to rely on myself.”

However, her engineer husband needed to be in a more urban area to find a job. (This was a decade before the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to realize how many jobs can actually be done from home.)

So they compromised: Dr. Stuefen bought a practice in Vinton, Iowa (population 4,900) and the couple moved to Cedar Rapids (with 132,000 people), just 40 minutes away.

It’s turned out to be the perfect fit for all their needs.

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Topics: Real Talk, Small Market

The Perfect Blend: How One Dentist Found a Close-Knit Community with Ideal Work-Life Balance

Dr. Jenna Hatfield never thought she would end up back in the small town where she grew up. After all, Norfolk, Nebraska has just 24,000 people. However, after dental school in Lincoln, Nebraska (population 283,000), Dr. Hatfield and her husband realized that Lincoln didn’t feel like the right place to raise a family. 

By chance, Dr. Hatfield heard that her childhood dentist in Norfolk was trying to figure out his exit strategy. The timing was perfect: she came in as his associate, then bought out the practice two years ago. 

Today, she’s built an ideal life in Norfolk. She does the type of dentistry she loves, makes a difference in her community, and has the flexibility to care for her family and children. 

“I never thought I’d end up back in Norfolk, but it just felt right,” she says.

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Topics: Real Talk, Small Market

Want a Lucrative Practice With Great Work-Life Balance? Go Rural!

Most dental practice buyers want the same thing: a financially sound practice where they can do the type of dentistry that excites them and keeps them engaged.

However, as they go through the process of considering potential practices, I see many would-be buyers turn down practices that could be a great fit. 

Often, it comes down to a single factor: location. Many buyers assume that they can only have the lifestyle and practice they want in a big urban center or its immediate suburbs. The reality is different, however. While they may find a great practice in a city, it can come with costs: a higher price tag, tougher competition, more expensive housing, and a more hectic lifestyle.  

Over the past several months, we’ve been speaking with some very successful dentists, including several on the ADA’s New Dentist Committee. Each of these dentists has built a satisfying, lucrative career — beyond the big city. Each has also attained a comfortable work-life balance. They practice dentistry the way they want to while living a lifestyle with plenty of time for family, community, travel, and other interests.

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Topics: Real Talk, Small Market

How One Dentist Built His Ideal Practice – and Life – In a Small Town

Posted by Bree Simmers on 8/5/20 8:45 AM

42 years ago, Dr. Dean Hussong graduated from dental school and set out to build his own practice from scratch. After visiting 28 different towns, he and his wife, Ann, settled in Tomahawk (population 3,160) in northern Wisconsin. While Ann was initially skeptical of following her high school sweetheart to such a small town, it turned out to be the best possible move for both of them and an ideal place to raise three children.

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Topics: transition tales, Small Market

Transition Tales: Finding a Fit in a Small-Town Dental Practice

Posted by Bree Simmers on 10/17/19 9:05 AM

This is part of the Transition Tales & Truths series in which we discuss practice transitions with real dentists.

When Dr. Christy Rens and her husband (a fellow dentist) graduated from the University of Minnesota Dental School, they weren’t quite sure where their future would take them. They assumed they would eventually wind up near family in the Twin Cities.

Life doesn’t always turn out as planned. One day, Dr. Christy got a call with an offer that she and her husband couldn’t refuse, so they packed their bags to try small-town life. The two-year contract even included free housing if they were willing to serve two rural practices.

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Topics: looking for a job, purchase a practice, transition tales, Small Market

Consider Going Country: Why a Rural Practice May Be a Perfect Fit

Many young dentists automatically flock to urban or suburban areas after graduation. After all, those areas can command higher salaries. But have you considered working in a more rural area?

A rural practice can offer several advantages beyond fresh air and open spaces. Namely, rural practices often cost less with lower overhead and higher collections – meaning you might be able to pay off your debts sooner and enjoy a better quality of life.

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Topics: looking for a job, selling a practice, Small Market

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