New UF program targets business of dentistry

When students graduate from dental school, they know how to be a dentist. But dental education doesn't prepare dentists for the diverse skill sets necessary to become successful small-business owners, which most dentists are.

A new program launched by the University of Florida's Continuing Dental Education Office bridges that gap with the creation of an executive practice management (EPM) certificate program for dentists beginning in October 2012.

The EPM is a comprehensive program that prepares dentists to become business owners and executive managers within their practices, according to the university. A 13-month curriculum focuses on the critical components of business ownership that are not taught within traditional DMD/DDS programs.

Core course topics include all aspects of finance, practice operations and compliance, human resources, and sales and marketing, according to James Haddix, DMD, an associate professor and the assistant dean for Continuing Education at the University of Florida College of Dentistry.

Surveys of dentists across the U.S. made it clear that there was a critical need for a practice management program, he noted.

"Once we began talking about this course, we've had an incredible amount of interest, and we're very pleased to be the first to offer a practice management course developed specially for the practicing dentist," he said.

The program includes monthly weekend face-to-face meetings, plus an online supplemental Web course, with a customized goal of increasing dentists' business acumen and skills. From buying, building, or becoming an associate to debt reduction through overhead control and wealth accumulation for practice transitions, the program encompasses a business school curriculum customized to executive dental practice ownership. Classes are small, between 15 and 25 dentists, to enable individual learning and interaction with instructors.

Topics are divided into 13 modules with modules taught one weekend per month. Instructional methods include lecture, hands-on workshops, guest lectures, and online supplemental learning between meeting dates. Concepts of basic accounting/bookkeeping, practice financials, employment law, social marketing, staffing, sales forecasting, dental leadership, communications, legal compliance, and wealth accumulation serve as primary course content.

Accepted enrollees must be practicing, actively licensed dentists, newly graduated dentists, or graduating dentists in dental school, and be accepted to this program by the University of Florida College of Dentistry.

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