Service? Or financial success? How can dentists have it all?

September 12, 2017
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By: David Wolle, Chief Operating Officer, KOS Services/Dental Dreams

A recent news story in South Carolina explored whether high student loan-related debt
was preventing dentists from pursuing employment opportunities serving low-income
patients. The story quoted Dr. W. Carter Brown, an adjunct professor at the Medical
University of South Carolina. He speculated that the burden of debt dissuades students
from joining or opening practices where most of the patients are on Medicaid. He
suggested a debt-forgiveness program as a way of incentivizing dental professionals to
pursue opportunities serving low-income patients.

The idea that a dentist choosing to serve low-income patients would make less money
doing so is a myth. We have found that we can provide the highest quality dental
services in first-class facilities to people in underserved communities and can pay our
dentists at a rate that is competitive with compensation elsewhere in the market. Due to
the high demand for services in the areas where we operate clinics, we are able to keep
the dentists’ chairs filled with patients in need, and because of our size and experienced
staff, we are able to conduct a lean and efficient operation.

There is an extreme shortage of available dental care to patients enrolled in Medicaid.
Our dentists are able to address this significant shortage of medical and dental care to
underserved communities while still earning competitive compensation. We work very
hard in our recruitment of dental school students to help them gain an appreciation that
with a practice like ours they can earn attractive compensation, maintain a healthy
work/life balance and also serve a community that is in need of high quality dental
providers. Working for a practice that serves Medicaid patients can check all the boxes:
Our dentists get the opportunity to perform a broad range of procedures; they have
complete autonomy in their treatment planning, and they get to provide much needed
dental services to underserved communities and particularly to children, who make up at
least half of our patients. The fact that they are also well compensated for their efforts is
the icing on the cake.

At a time when there is a shortage of dentists nationally and only a fraction of dental
practices like ours offer services to Medicaid patients, hiring the number of dentists
needed to meet the high demand for dental services at our offices can be a challenge.
Addressing the common misconception that working at a dental practice that focuses its
efforts and resources on serving disadvantaged communities is somehow less profitable
has become a major focus for us in our recruitment of dentists. We spend significant
time and resources visiting dental schools and working with dental associations to help

dental students, faculty and other dentists understand that it possible to both serve a
community need and be profitable.

ABOUT DENTAL DREAMS: Founded in 2001 by Dr. Sameera Hussain, Dental Dreams
is a dynamic, growing enterprise with offices in Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia,
and Washington DC. Our mission is to provide the highest quality dental services in first-
class facilities to people in underserved communities. We have more than 300 dentists
staffing our offices nationwide. Dental Dreams hires only the most qualified dentists who
are committed to superior patient care.

About David Wolle: David Wolle is the Chief Operating Officer of KOS SERVICES LLC, the Chicago
based management company responsible for the administrative functions of Dental Dreams LLC.
The KOS team manages HR, recruiting, accounting and marketing for 70 offices across 10 states and DC.
Originally from Toronto, Canada, David completed his BA and MBA at the Schulich School of Business at
York University in Toronto and has been working in dental practice management since moving to the US
in 2004. He currently lives in the suburbs outside Chicago with his wife Jacqueline and three kids,
Henry, Sophie and Isabel.