Howard Speaks: Ownership Isn’t for Everyone by Dr. Howard Farran

Dentaltown Magazine

by Howard Farran, DDS, MBA, publisher, Dentaltown magazine


Would you rather give or take orders? It’s really that simple, and there’s no right or wrong answer.

Some people would like to be the boss, and some people don’t. I believe that duality is evident as early as childhood—maybe even at birth. I’ve watched five sisters growing up, and they were the same women at age 60 as they were when they were 6. I raised four boys, and they’re the same boys at 30 as they were at 10. And when some dentists get out of school, they don’t want to lead a team of five or 10 employees, give orders and tell them what to do. The idea gives them stomach ulcers.

“But you’re working for someone else, though,” a lot of dentists would say. “Why would you want to be an associate, or work at a DSO?” Some people are perfectly happy trading their time for money—and that’s not a bad thing, especially in an industry that invented the concept of the Tooth Fairy, teaching children to sell their discarded body parts for money.

Instead of live and let live, “practice and let practice”

The most miserable dentists I’ve ever met had parents who were dentists and told them since they were 3 years old that they were going to grow up and become dentists too. They weren’t actually interested in the profession themselves but followed their parents into dentistry because they loved their mom and dad, and now they’re miserable.

On the flip side, a lot of dentists feel bad because they had several children but none of them wanted to go into dentistry. That’s not a sign of failure! Remember, Dr. Omer Reed, one of the most famous dentists on Earth, had five kids and not one of them became a dentist. I told my four boys that I had my kids for them, not for me, so I expected them some day to fly out of the nest, go somewhere else and do whatever they wanted to do.

So when new graduates come out of dental school and get a job at a DSO, there’s no need to bully them: “How come you don’t own your own place?” The way they get shamed for joining a DSO, you’d think they were joining an illegal arms operation. Maybe they don’t want to own their own place yet! In the early years, a single-owner dental practice can be an early-morning, late-evening job, seven days a week. Maybe while they’re young, they’d like to just check in and check out, Monday through Friday, 8 to 5, and are fine with joining a team and letting some other person be the overlord.

If you come out of dental school and you just want to join a DSO or a group practice and live happily, go for it! Even if you’re a dentist who’s been around for a while and still think that hanging out a shingle isn’t in the cards for you, I won’t criticize that decision. Why should I, or anyone else, force you to be a miserable business owner? It’s not right for everyone.

The only goal I have for my four boys is that they stay healthy, happy and breathing. I don’t want them to go do something and be miserable, and I certainly don’t want Townies to do that, either.

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Sally Gross, Member Services Specialist
Phone: +1-480-445-9710
Email: sally@farranmedia.com
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