Adversity and Reward:
SUDDENLY A PRACTICE OWNER
I live in a scenic small town in rural America with all the benefits of small-town life … and all the challenges of a weak economy. In 2008, I moved back to my hometown after graduating from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center dental school. I also married, bought our first home, and was hired as a new dentist in an established practice. Then we discovered our first baby was on the way! It was an intense launch right out of dental school. After a few months, I felt I had settled into my part-time employment routine, when something happened that would change my life.
The dentist-owner of the practice where I was working — an athlete and runner who had just turned 50 — had chest pains one morning after a run on a country road. He drove himself to the ER, and within minutes had a massive, lifeending heart attack.
The office, as well as our small town, somehow coped with the shock and loss. Since my now-deceased boss and mentor was without immediate family or a practice transition plan, his elderly aunt and I began to figure out how to continue patient care at the office. That turned my parttime employment strategy into practice ownership practically overnight.