Realizing a Shared Dream

New dentists find the confidence to lead

At one point or another in their career, almost every dentist dreams of having an office to call his or her very own. Unfortunately, many dentists, especially new graduates, are prevented from realizing that dream on their own due to financial burdens and lack of knowledge on how to run a business. However, with the support of Heartland Dental, Dr. Jade DeSmidt and Dr. Robby Thompson II, two recent graduates, have overcome those hurdles and are now seeing once impossible dreams come to fruition.

While attending the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, Dr. DeSmidt contemplated her options for after graduation. She knew she wanted to move to the St. Louis, Missouri, area. However, not being from the region, networking for an associateship there proved difficult. Opening an office by herself, though a tempting idea, seemed daunting when she thought about all of the management work and numbers. So, when she was first exposed to Heartland Dental in her third year of dental school, she welcomed the additional option.

Jade DeSmidt, DDS

Jade DeSmidt, DDS
practicing dentist at Valley Park Dental Care in Valley Park, Missouri

"Coming out of dental school, I felt clinically ready, but I wanted someone to be that mentor for the business side of running a practice. I was also looking for opportunities in a new geographic area. I found that Heartland Dental could offer all of that," said Dr. DeSmidt.

In her fourth year, she contacted a Heartland Dental Doctor Recruiter to learn more. After talking with administrators as well as other Heartland Dental doctors, all that was left to do was to find the right practice for her. "They really wanted me to find a practice I fit into instead of just any practice in the St. Louis area." She found that right fit with Deer Creek Dental in O’Fallon, Missouri.

Unlike Dr. DeSmidt, Dr. Thompson knew where he was headed after graduating from the University of Missouri-Kansas in 2012. He returned home to practice in his father’s dental office, as his dad was nearing retirement. He quickly realized this was not sustainable, however. Taking over the practice was a financial obligation that he just could not take on right out of dental school. Dr. Thompson also recalled being particularly intimidated by the management aspects.

A local Heartland Dental affiliate referred Dr. Thompson to Heartland Dental. He reached out in April and within a few weeks he had visited the office that he knew was the place for him, Jungermann Dental Care. "I was excited to come into an environment where the business side is already figured out and taken care of for me, but even more so, one that has the capacity to teach me without having to make the mistakes myself," said Dr. Thompson. He continued, "While acting as a mentor to me, the doctor also made it clear I would be an equal. Within weeks, I felt more comfortable with the business side and as a leader."

"When I look at what I needed to go into the new practice, there is no way I would have had the financial backing and the know-how to put it all together having just graduated dental school a year ago. Thanks to Heartland Dental, I am getting that opportunity at age 27. I know that wouldn't have happened anywhere else."

Robbie Thompson, DDS

Robbie Thompson, DDS
practicing dentist at Valley Park Dental Care in Valley Park, Missouri

While gaining valuable insight and experience in their offices, Dr. DeSmidt and Dr. Thompson both jumped on the opportunity to move to a denovo office, a brand new, state-of-the-art Heartland Dental affiliated office in Valley Park, Missouri. Having practiced in other Heartland Dental-affiliated offices, they developed the confidence they were lacking right out of school.

Dr. DeSmidt shared, "Practicing in a Heartland Dental office prior to our new office gave me an idea of what would work." Dr. Thompson elaborated, "Working at Jungermann gave me the confidence to step up into my own office with Jade."

Both doctors were encouraged to be very involved in the decision making and building stages. "The best part is establishing your own environment and being able to take ownership in it," said Dr. Thompson. "We wanted digital everything. The technology in our office is what every dentist dreams of," explains Dr. DeSmidt. She continued, "Had I decided to finance my own practice, I would have had to make some sacrifices in the amount of technology."

The opening of their own practice with the support of Heartland Dental was a dream come true for Dr. DeSmidt and Dr. Thompson—a dream not realized by many dentists. The experience with their denovo office also provided the confidence and knowledge they needed to become a leader. Now, they are both leading their own offices as solo doctors.

As Dr. Thompson looks back he remembers, "One of my dreams in dental school was to start a practice from scratch. When I look at what needed to go into the new practice, there is no way I would have had the financial backing and the know-how to put it all together having just graduated dental school a year ago. Thanks to Heartland Dental, I am getting that opportunity at age 27. I know that wouldn’t have happened anywhere else."