As Dr. Ancy Verdier finished up his periodontics residency at Tufts University, he — like many younger dentists — looked for associateships in the big city. He wanted to be near family in his hometown of Scarsdale, NY but assumed he had to be in Manhattan to practice the kind of dentistry he loved.
Dr. Verdier was soon working at group practices in Manhattan and the Hamptons, building a great reputation and treating celebrity clients. He even built his own practice from scratch in the Hamptons while still working in other practices and teaching.
His dental school classmates and other colleagues were impressed with his career path and patient roster. Fortunately, working with demanding clients helped him learn quickly while building confidence. However, Dr. Verdier found that this all wasn’t sustainable for the long haul.
At one point, he was working in eight different practices across New York City, Brooklyn, and the Hamptons, putting thousands of miles on his car. “I was spending more time in my car than enjoying life,” he says. “Worse, I was doing more prescription dentistry. I was not getting a chance to know my patients or be as comprehensive as I would have liked to be. It wasn’t the kind of dentistry I wanted to do.”
He ended up reconnecting with a dental school classmate working in Worcester, MA. Dr. Verdier was surprised to learn that his classmate was practicing outside of a big city, yet still performing similar work — high-end perio, full-mouth rehabilitation cases. Once the classmate showed him a few cases and sold Dr. Verdier on the idea of practicing high-end dentistry in the area, he mentioned there was a perio practice for sale in Worcester.
Dr. Verdier was skeptical. “Worcester was a town I had driven past but never stopped in,” he says. His wife was equally skeptical. He jokes that his city colleagues couldn’t understand his decision, but he ultimately decided to buy the practice with his former classmate.
Finding career AND life satisfaction
He soon realized he had made the right move. “Worcester has opened up so many opportunities,” he says. “In New York City or Boston, I’d be competing on price and convenience. Here, the quality of my work is what matters.”
Today, Dr. Verdier has built an empire with his former classmate and another partner. The trio owns nine practices throughout the Worcester area. Better yet, Dr. Verdier has found career and life satisfaction. “I’m making more than I was in NYC, working fewer hours, and am much less stressed. My quality of life is much better,” he says. He has the flexibility to make it to his kids’ soccer games and room to spread out in a suburban house and backyard. Worcester has all the cultural amenities he wants for daily life, including great restaurants, theatre, and museums — and it’s only an hour to Boston!
Dr. Verdier also loves that he can be part of the community, sitting on boards and getting to know people through his kids’ activities. Those relationships have also helped build his practice. “If people know I do good dentistry, they will come. It’s easier to distinguish yourself and build word-of-mouth relationships here than in a big city.”
The best part? He’s still doing the work he loves. “I thought I’d have to be in NYC, treating the stars, to do the kind of dentistry I wanted. But in Worcester, people need the same kind of dentistry. People everywhere want and deserve high-quality dentistry. I come to work passionate, every day.”
Advice to young dentists
Dr. Verdier recommends that young dentists find a mentor sooner rather than later. “Start early, long before your D4 year,” he urges. “Find someone excited about the field. You can even cold call! Just get in the door and see what kind of culture feels right to you, what kind of work you want to do.”
He also advises young dentists not to default to big-city practices. “While it can seem like everyone else is doing it, smaller markets can give you plenty of room to grow without paying exorbitant housing costs and practice overhead,” he says. He enjoyed his time in New York in his twenties, but Worcester has proved a much better place to raise a family and attain the work-life balance he always wanted.
“Remember to keep an open mind,” he encourages. As a dental student, Dr. Verdier never could have imagined his path would take him to Worcester, but he’s glad he was open to taking the leap when he did.
See more about why smaller-market practices can be such a great fit, or explore our Mentorship-to-Ownership transition path to learn how to find the mentorship you need for success.