A: In my opinion, it has provided a model of what could work for private practices with multiple providers. The surveys show 71% of prosthodontists practiced alone in 2007, which decreased to 52% in 2013, although most practiced as either a one- or 2-doctor practice.
The other interesting point taken from the survey relates to how the percentage of respondents describing themselves as employees in their primary practice increased from 15% in 2007 and doubled to 32% in 2013. A multiprovider corporate dental practice has the potential to provide the opportunity for a prosthodontist to work in a team-oriented environment on-site. It is a trend to follow in future surveys related to prosthodontists in a private practice setting.
According to the ACP’s position statement on the topic, there is not a “clear distinction between the terms private practice and corporate dentistry.” A dental management organization (DMO) or a dental service organization (DSO) is often described in conjunction with “corporate dentistry,” which could also include professional limited liability corporations or professional corporations more typical of a prosthodontist in private practice. Larger-scale practices that may or may not be associated with either a DMO or DSO will continue to have influence on the decisions made in a private practice setting.
Q: Has there been a change in the number of female prosthodontists throughout the years? If so, what could be causing this change?
A: In our study, 18% of private practice prosthodontists today are women. This number has remained constant throughout our surveys (2007, 2010, 2013). This consistency is mirrored in the Surveys of Advanced Dental Education by the ADA, where enrollment based on gender has remained relatively constant at about 40% female every year between 2007 and 2012. A 2007 study in the Journal of Dental Education showed that between 1998 and 2006, the number of practicing female prosthodontists rose by nearly 40%.
An important factor to instigate change is the availability of mentors, specifically female mentors who can connect and inspire our next generation. It is happening, and the increasing number of women who have access to a mentor in dental school could encourage more women to move forward with a career as a prosthodontist.
The ACP has benefitted from having women in leadership positions on the board of directors. Recently, Dr Dental Chair. Lily T. Garcia served as president as well as chair for the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). ACP’s next president will be board certified prosthodontist Dr. Susan E. Brackett. Women in visible and influential leadership positions provide exposure as to what is possible, and that includes a career in prosthodontics.
Q: Finally, the study reports that the single largest source of referrals is the prosthodontist’s own patients dental implant machine. How has the Internet affected new patient generation?
As a board-certified prosthodontist in private practice in Arizona, I know firsthand how many new patients seek out my care as a prosthodontist on the recommendation of one of my patients today. Word of mouth matters in healthcare.
Search engine optimization, marketing, and public relations outreach all help patients become more informed about oral health options. In the era of the informed patient, our patients increasingly take on a larger role in learning about potential treatment options and selecting where to go for that treatment dental equipment.
The Internet, along with social media, provides the opportunity for patients to research and select a provider based on consumers’ recommendations. Patients can see and select an environment that fits prior to making an appointment to discuss options with the prosthodontist.
The Internet can help to set the tone for expectations related to the desired treatment, allowing for an informative and effective discussion while with the prosthodontist. Prosthodontists don’t fear second opinions or patient questions, and we believe that an informed patient helps improve outcomes.