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dental careers and practice transitions dental careers and practice transitions

How one dentist learned not to let preconceptions keep her from her perfect path.

As a young student, Dr. Christine Kepley felt a pull towards biology and the hard sciences, but wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do. As she delved into her college coursework, however, she had a realization. “I did not like working by myself–I definitely preferred working with people. So then I started exploring the clinical side of the biology major. I looked back on great experiences with my own dentist, who was also a woman, and I thought that might be a great career path for someone who wanted to be a mom and have a family. It seemed really flexible and you could live and work anywhere.”

After finishing dental school, Dr. Kepley headed to the big city. “I did a residency in Chicago then ended up joining what I thought was my ‘ideal’ practice—a small, community practice where I was an associate for a female private practitioner. It was awesome and I loved it, but in the end Chicago just wasn’t the right fit long-term. It was a terrible commute and I wasn’t very busy in the office. It was really slow picking up new patients because there was a LOT of competition for a new dentist.”

After relocating to Cleveland to be nearer to family, Dr. Kepley joined a dental support organization that focused on dentures. “It was a great experience, but I really didn’t love the fast pace and long hours. Once I got pregnant, I switched to a private practice where I stayed for ten years during which time I became an owner of the practice. And I really really loved it!” As time passed, however, her priorities began to shift. “I loved a lot of things about my practice but the business of it just didn’t make sense to me anymore. Ten years in, I was busier than I had been when I started, but was making less money due to rising costs. I also knew I would eventually have to buy my partner out and invest in upgrading technology and office spaces, since our building was really old. Ultimately, being an owner was becoming lower and lower priority for me. It came down to the fact that I loved dentistry but didn’t feel the need to keep being an owner.”

Enter Midwest Dental. After visiting several offices and talking to numerous dentists, Dr. Kepley felt that the practice in Macedonia, OH was a perfect fit. “With Midwest Dental, everyone seemed very professional and was really dedicated and knowledgeable about what doctors are looking for and what makes an office work.” Once onboard, she discovered other benefits of working with a larger organization. “It’s been great. I don’t have to worry about getting new patients in. With buying power you can get better deals on supplies. And I don’t have to worry about changing my schedule, or going on vacation, or any of the stuff I had to worry about before.”

When it comes to passing along advice to other dentists just starting out, Dr. Kepley has some words of wisdom: “Get rid of preconceived notions about what you imagined yourself doing and focus on what you’re actually doing and what makes sense for your life. The push is always to own your own practice, but that doesn’t necessarily work best for everyone. I really stress to younger dentists, women especially, that people push you into a pathway, but you have options. There is a misconception that working for someone else will negatively impact your quality, but I am not doing anything different now than I was doing in private practice. I don’t think there is any compromise in what I’m doing.”

Midwest Dental is now hiring talented and passionate dentists. Click here to explore our current opportunities.

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