Buying my first dental practice
Within six months of completing VT and starting what I thought would be a long(-ish) associate career, I was given an opportunity to think about becoming a partner or completely buying the dental practice and becoming the principal.
My first thoughts to that were how on earth will I know how to run a practice? For the past six months, all I do is turn up at 9am, go home at 5.30pm and only worry about if I finished an endo short of the apex. I knew that would be the least of my worries if I wanted to become principal. Anyway, after discussions, it became clear the current principal would stay as an associate so he offered his wise words of wisdom whenever I needed them. It wasn’t a decision which was made overnight, it was at least five months before I decided for certain I was going ahead with it. And along with that realisation of how much was going to be spent in expenses before the deal was complete. The expenses slowly build up prior to completion of purchase. Be aware of them as they will be quite substantial. Also, as the NHS schedules in Scotland are one month delayed in getting paid, for the first month, I received my associate pay for the month finishing prior to becoming principal. I wasn’t really prepared for the daily expenses, even what to aim for but that will be evident with time and I will be able to assess the situation once things have stabilised.
It was in my favour the fact I was an associate so the staff already knew who I was rather than having to get used to a new boss. This also meant a new relationship and way of thinking betweenthe staff and me. At the end of the day it is a business. You have to know where to draw the line with the staff and be firm but fair. I finished on a Friday evening as an associate, returned on a Monday morning as the principal. THAT felt a bit surreal in all honesty. I knew I would have regretted the decision not to buy the dental practice but I am really glad I did. It has been a few months since everything was signed and sealed, I didn’t really know how much stress or behind-the-scene work would be involved, and until the responsibility was placed on me only then did I realise how much work has to be done; I have to admit I wasn’t ready. There are only so many tasks that can be delegated. I am still learning, and I am learning as I go along. You don’t really learn or appreciate the responsibilities until you HAVE to make the decisions, I think that is human nature but it allows you to avoid information overload. You have to know where to draw the line with staff; it becomes a completely different relationship with them. Be prepared to be harassed by staff about anything and everything, I find a practice manager is a good person to delegate the problems to!
Now whether this is first of a mini-empire only time will tell but we all have our own aspirations and targets. I have done this with my good friend and colleague, Dr Nimra Naeem whom I have known from University days. We had always suggested we wanted to go and do this together, but it sounded like dreams but now has become reality. Trust is the most important aspect of the relationship between Dr Naeem and me. If there were any concerns regarding trust, this partnership would not even havematerialised. This is personally a lifelong investment and in that respect, I have no regrets of. forming this partnership.
M.A. Samad BDS, MJDF.RCS (Eng)
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