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ADA Practice Transitions Helps Match Dentists Entering or Leaving Practice

Graphic of dental office with a for sale banner draped across front doorway
Dental Practice Success logo

Succession planning doesn’t always involve bequeathing what you’ve spent a lifetime building to your children, friends or other loved ones. If you’re a dentist in private practice looking to retire, the heir apparent to your business may share your vision more than your DNA or history.

In other words, you may need to place your life’s work into the hands of a stranger. This would mean entrusting someone with years of carefully-built relationships that have been key to your growth and success. You might be retiring but still care about your patients, community, suppliers and hard-won reputation.

How, though, do you find just the right person to step up and in, at just the right time and under the right conditions?

For Dr. Joe Thibodeau – a general dentist looking forward to retirement in Lincoln, Maine – ADA Practice Transitions was the key. Same for Dr. Kristen Sciolino, who sought to purchase someone’s existing practice. They found each other through ADA Practice Transitions.

This dental matchmaking service, backed by the ADA, connects dentists who are looking to join a practice with owners who are seeking an associate or someone to purchase their practice. Rolled out previously to a few key states (including Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Wisconsin), the service expanded to all 50 states as of Oct. 5.

Dr. Thibodeau’s Family Dentistry & Orthodontics had three operatories, three dental hygienists, two dental assistants and two front desk staffers. But, those weren’t the only specifics to consider in placing his life’s work into another’s hands someday. ADAPT respected this reality and was able to fast-track him to a perfect match in Dr. Sciolino.

“ADAPT isn’t just matching you with an area,” Dr. Sciolino said. “It’s matching you with a person, a practice and a mindset, so you’re not going into a situation where you and your potential boss or coworker don’t mesh.”

Dr. Thibodeau wasn’t ready to retire immediately. He rather was seeking to gradually acclimate someone with his similar style and approach to practicing so that he could transition out in about three years. Dr. Sciolino wanted a likewise scenario – to gradually learn a business at the knee of its successful founder to transition in as the new owner in the not-so-distant future.

They were seeking just what the other offered and it took ADAPT to connect the dots. Prior to being matched with Dr. Sciolino, Dr. Thibodeau was spending a lot of money and time on a traditional broker that proved fruitless. “I don’t think I got my money’s worth – I did not get one hit, and I had to contact the company or else I did not hear from them,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sciolino was in the midst of finishing up her dental education at University of New England College of Dental Medicine in Portland, Maine. She’d begun planning where she might land to establish her career. Being a product of rural Maine herself, Dr. Sciolino was particularly interested in a similar locale for practicing. Once paired with Dr. Thibodeau, they worked out an arrangement where Dr. Sciolino could be eased into Dr. Thibodeau’s practice and the new location with her husband and children.

Dr. Sciolino has now become the first additional dentist in Dr. Thibodeau’s practice as she prepares to take up the mantle in coming years. “The process seemed to make great sense, and I would highly recommend the way it’s worked for me and Kristen,” he said.

The beauty of it all? Dentists can set up an ADAPT profile for free to connect with other dentists. ADA advisors guide subscribers in the buying or selling of practices, hiring associates or finding jobs through ADAPT. Users pay only for success – when a match leads to a completed practice transition. Special pricing is available for ADA members.

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About the author 

Jean Williams headshotMs. Williams is a Chicago-based freelance writer and editor who specializes in practice and research news for dental and medical professionals