Considering where to establish your dental practice? Should you settle in the big city, a rural area, your hometown or a favorite vacation spot?
While urban and suburban areas may provide more social and cultural opportunities, don’t overlook the possibilities rural areas offer. In a rural area, you may find a golden opportunity to purchase a well-established practice at a reasonable price. Perhaps Sam Walton, executive and founder of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the largest retail chain in the country, said it best: “There’s a lot more business out there in small town America than I ever dreamed of.”
Here are eight reasons you’ll want to consider practicing in a rural or small town:
- High demand. Generally, an insufficient number of dentists practice in rural areas. As a result, patient demand is high, with an immediate pool of patients from which to draw. When purchasing an established practice, your patient base is already in place and the decreased competition in the area allows you abundant opportunity to grow the practice.
- High net worth. Overhead and labor costs, rent and general cost of living are considerably lower in a rural area; thus, your net profit is higher and the purchase debt is retired more quickly, leading to greater profitability. These factors allow for an aggressive loan reduction program, which will be more favorable to you than loan programs in urban areas.
- Loan forgiveness. Wisconsin and other states offer incentives for new dentists to settle in underserved areas, which generally consist of student loan forgiveness and grant programs. In exchange for the funds, you would be required to practice in a Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and/or serve a minimum number of Medicaid patients. This assures that you put down roots in the community instead of just working in a Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) for a number of required years and then moving on to a different location. As the buyer you can purchase a practice in a shortage area for an excellent and attractive price because of the reduced demand, be in close contact with patients in need and have loans reduced through the loan forgiveness program. This will provide a substantial return on your investment.
- Lifestyle. A rural location is ideal for a single person or family because of the abundance of recreational opportunities available. Excellent fishing, hunting, skiing, snowmobiling, biking and hiking can be enjoyed just outside your door. In addition, you can expect reduced crime and quality school systems. Although some travel may be required to reach major shopping and entertainment venues, these trips can provide a chance to combine pleasure, education and business. Dining is often first-rate as many small towns cater to tourists. Opportunities exist for dental spouses to run a small business or pursue a career in their chosen field.
- Community involvement and leadership. As the dentist in a small community, you have extensive opportunities to be involved in the community. By sponsoring events and activities you become known as a productive community resource and caring health care professional. In addition to serving as an employer, your office is a source of professional staff who can provide oral health care-related promotions such as speaking engagements at local schools, senior citizen centers, nursing homes, career days, and other special events. Some dentists have served on their county boards, school boards and even become city mayors. Memberships in Kiwanis or Rotary clubs or the Chamber of Commerce give you an opportunity to assume leadership positions, and belonging to the local country club offers personal and professional connections.
- Enhanced prestige. In a large city, you are a part of a broad spectrum of professionals that are lumped into one category as providers. In a small town, you quickly attain prestige within the community. Here, everyone knows your name and you are appreciated by residents. How gratifying to be well known and sought after for your services as a dentist and as a community member whose personal and professional advice and leadership is esteemed.
- Lower start-up costs. A practice for sale in a rural area or small town may have low gross receipts, but because competition is not as extensive as it would be in an urban area, the patient base is already established. Your practice would be busy from the beginning. Start-up costs to establish a practice from the bottom up may pose problems and additional financial burdens. So, it is possible to purchase a successful practice for a relatively low price in a rural area.
- Personal testimony. Do not neglect the personal testimony of the professional who has made his or her living in the rural area. These personal experiences can be appealing, and you can consider what it is like to walk in the seller’s shoes and contemplate the possibility of the purchase in greater depth.
Not all of these arguments will appeal to you. But these thoughts are worth addressing and should be taken into consideration, together with facts about the practice and location. This information can allow you to see the big picture and may lead you to forgo the bright lights of the big city to establish a dental practice in a small town.
For more information, visit us online at schencksc.com/health, or contact Nancy Streck, Jim Tripp or any member of Schenck’s Health Service team at 800-236-2246.