An Improved Approach to Career Transitions


areer transitions are an important life decision. Changing where or how you work affects other aspects of your life—your daily

routine, time with family, bank account and overall satisfaction—so it’s natural to feel stressed or overwhelmed as you begin think- ing about your next career change.

When making such an important decision, whether you are the interviewer or inter- viewee, you want to make sure you are mak- ing the right choice, the first time. Unfortu- nately in the current market, the majority of practice transitions or associateships fail within the first two years.

The ADA set out to understand what makes practice transitions so tough. By interview- ing dentists at all points in their careers, the Association uncovered opportunities to improve the process for practice owners looking to hire or sell and dentists looking to purchase or join a practice.

ADA Practice Transitions (ADAPT) was born from this research. ADAPT’s goal is to make the process of entering, leaving or joining a dental practice more predictable and suc- cessful.

Through an innovative process, ADAPT strives to help dentists find the right fit for their long-term plans whether they want to find a job, buy or sell a practice, or hire an associate.

After a successful pilot program, ADAPT recently announced that they will be expand- ing the service to serve dentists in all 50 states in October 2020.


Plenty of brokers and listing services already exist. ADAPT is different. Rather than leaving you to browse through potential opportuni- ties, ADAPT does the initial work for you,

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helping you find the right match for your long-term plans and providing the support you need throughout the entire process.

Each participating dentist is assigned an ADA Advisor who spends time learning each dentist’s long-term goals and is available to ensure success at every step. The Advisor will suggest only potential opportunities that fit each dentist’s goals and their philosophy of care, helping them focus on the things that matter to ensure a higher rate of success.

ADAPT answers a very real need in today’s dental transition market. Many practice own- ers want to find someone who shares their practice philosophy to ensure continuity of care for their patients. At the same time, dentists spoke about how real the challenges can be integrating into a practice, agreeing how to manage the practice (particularly in a longer-term, associate-to-owner buyout scenario), and making the process seamless for patients and staff.

The ADAPT model was built to address these concerns and support both dentists long after the paperwork is signed. The goal isn’t just to help dentists transition in and out of practices, but rather to help facilitate successful transitions, thriving practices and satisfying careers.


The ADAPT pilot launched in the summer of 2019 in Maine and Wisconsin. Dentists have been enthusiastic about the program and eager to participate, providing valuable feedback that has further refined the process.

Dr. Suzanne Ebert leads advisory services for ADAPT and already has worked closely with dozens of dentists looking to make a change. She shared one such match: “We have found a great rural practice for a D4 student. Dur- ing the first two years, the student will be working in the practice as an associate and

then will purchase the practice for a price that already has been agreed to! The current owner is thrilled to have found the right person to come into the practice and care for the patients in a way that represents the established philosophy. The practice itself is fully updated and sits on an idyllic piece of land. The incoming doctor is excited to begin the transition from student to doctor and is feeling, ‘blessed and a bit overwhelmed at how quickly this has developed and that it seems almost too good to be true.’”

This ambitious D4 could have found an associateship right out of school and then launched another career transition when they were ready to purchase in a few years. Instead, they are already on the path to own- ership. This associate-to-owner path enables the new graduate to gain experience under the current owner before fully purchasing the practice. Meanwhile, the current owner can gradually transition to retirement while knowing that long-term patients will con- tinue to receive a high standard of care.

Dr. Ebert also has helped dentists seeking to expand their work: “We have a doctor who has found a second practice to add to their growing business. The new office’s sell- ing doctor has the advantage of providing services that are outside the scope of many general dentists, and the incoming doctor is well versed in these procedures. This ensures that the patients will be able to continue to receive the care that they have come to ex- pect from the practice. In addition, because both dentists share a common treatment philosophy, the incoming doctor will have no trouble with patient retention or being able to maintain the current production of the acquired practice.”


Working with someone who has a conflicting philosophy of care can be very frustrating. CONTINUED PAGE 16

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