Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thinking of the Future

Hey all,

Hope you all are doing well.
I really liked Monday's blog. Man it makes make me feel better when I am not alone in my struggles. I think this is what this blog is all about.

I finished Walk-On: Life at the end of the bench. It was pretty good. Nothing great. But a good perspective on how hard it is to Walk On to a Division I basketball team and how you get treated.
I am now reading Three Cups of Tea. A book about a guy who gets lost trying to climb K2 in the mountains of Pakistan. He is helped by the natives and this leads to a lifelong journey to build schools in that region. At least this is what I think.
It has gotten rave reviews from everyone that has read it so I will let you know.

I watched a couple of movies this weekend.
Revolutionary Road with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Wow this movie was sooooo depressing. I found myself say out loud, "Please make this movie end soon."
And my wife is say, "We have to see this movie to the end."
Then we watched GI Joe. I know what you are thinking, but my wife and I really thought it was okay. The critics hated it. So I guess our expectations were so wasn't half bad.

Noah has his first T-ball game today. Noah took his first batting practice last week and let me tell you, he impressed. He was hitting the ball out of the infield. Now that is a big deal when you are 2'8".
So I heard one of the other kid say to an opposing player, "Oh yeah, well we have Noah Gammichia on our team."
I love that kid.

I have so much to talk about (like Luke's Science project is due today. The parents are only supposed to do 10% of the work. YEAH RIGHT), but I think I will get right into the topic du jour.

The Future
I have been thinking about the future a lot lately.
Here is what I know....
We have a two dentist practice.
My dad is 65 and says he has about 3 years left in him. He is presently working 2 and a half days a week.
His practice, I would say, is not growing. I am not saying it is dying but it is not growing. He has put in his time. He has done all the Rotary he is going to do. He has been to his last Chamber luncheon.
He is not marketing himself that much. I mean people still talk about him, but this is not an active thing.
And that is okay, but it is a reality.

I know this. I have known this for a bunch of years.
A couple of years back things were going great here. So much so that we, my dad and I, hired an associate, thinking that she would come in and flourish.
The thought process was that while she was flourishing my dad would start to fade away.
Sounds like a good plan right?

Well about two months after she came on board the economy hit the pooper. As great as Dr. A was with our patients and regardless of how much EVERYONE liked her, we couldn't keep her. There wasn't enough patients for my father and I so there sure wasn't enough for three dentists.
So that door closed.
So my father and I continued to do our thing and not worry about the future too much.

One thing I did do at that point was plant some seeds. What I mean by that is that I would have future dentist cycle through this office "observing".
One of them was a patient. His family has been patients of ours since I was in high school. This kid's older brother was my younger brother's best friend in high school and college.
We will call him Drew. Drew had an interest in dentistry when he was in high school, and his mom asked if he could shadow here. I said, "Anytime!"

So Drew came in and loved it and to be honest with you my staff like him.
Next thing you know he is in his last couple of years of undergrad and is still shadowing. Next thing you know he is asking me how to apply to dental school.
So after I wrote him a recommendation for dental school I started to think of the possibilities.

I was thinking to myself, "He is going to be finished in a couple of years. He is from a great family. He is from this area. This could be perfect."
So after he was accepted to dental school and before he started, I took him out to dinner.
I told him that I thought it would be awesome if he would consider joining our practice when he was done with school. I didn't want to put any pressure on him but I wanted him to know that I thought he would be a great fit here. And we left it at that.

So it has been a year since that conversation and he was hooked. He loves our practice. He wants to be a part of it in a huge way.
I told him that as much as I want him here I wanted him to keep his options open. I mean he doesn't know much about being a general dentist. I told him there is a possibility that he would want to specialize and I didn't want to hold him back from that.
He agreed, but he still tells me he wants to be a part of what we have.

Okay well that is that.
So here we are again. A two dentist practice.
One full time dentist and a part time dentist.
Drew will be ready in a little over three years.

Here is my dilemma. Dentists usually have patients that are around their age. My practice is no different.
I mean, I have patients of all ages but the core of my patients are my age. I might see my core's kids and their parents, but my core patients are still my age.
So my father's core is all in their 60s and 70s. This is not a patient pool that is ripe for a rookie dentist.
So you would think that I would take all my father's patients and Drew would take all the kids of the practice.
Is that enough for Drew? Probably not.
He is going to have to create his own niche, but I want to have the practice humming when he gets here.
Not so easy in this economy.

I started to not just think about the future last week, but I did something about it.
I will tell you about it on Friday. T-ball game in 45 minutes...have to go.

Have a great Wednesday,


Anonymous said...

It is nice to think you will be busy enough to have a full time associate when your Dad retires. But from what I have read between the lines in following your blog. Is that you will be all the practice needs at the time when your Dad steps down. You will be ready for an associate when one of your kids is looking for a job (hopefully as a Dentist) in 15 years or so. Remember you have been down this road already and it did not work. Also your old patients like your Dad will move on as they retire too. Plus there will be further attrition due to not liking you and passing on into the next life.

gatordmd said...

Great points. It seems someone has been reading (and I appreciate that). All the things you talked about I am going to touch on (except for the "passing into the next life" comment...we are not going to go there) tomorrow.
Cliff hanger.

Anonymous said...

Well I can see what is happening in my own practice with the patient demographics. And believe me when people retire their spending mind set changes, simply because it has to. Not everyone gets those cushy golden parachutes.

I do read alot more than I post. Sometimes I don't have anything to say. Maybe we can get together at the AGD meeting in New Orleans. Talk about old times and relive one of those road trips in New Orleans in dental school. LOL

gatordmd said...

Who is this?
Man New Orleans....Good times.
I went a couple of times and I have to say that all those times are kind of fuzzy in my memory. I went once to go to a UF vs LSU football game and somehow ended up on Bourbon St.
And I went twice to Marti Gras...they told me I had a great time.
I did however ask my wife yesterday if she is interested in going to New Orleans this year. It is going to be tough with a 7 month old.

Anonymous said...

When I know for sure if I am going I will send you an email. Waiting on the goog folks at AGD to see if they think I am worthy of the FAGD.
Waitng on Today's blog, but you a little late.


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