Finding Greener Pastures

Doctors refresh their 30 year partnership and find a new beginning with Heartland Dental

Since meeting each other at the East Carolina School of Medicine in 1983, Dr. Richard MacIlwaine and Dr. Mark Kowal have been inseparable in their dental career. Always keeping an eye on the horizon, the two have constantly sought to build their dental practice. At the 30 year mark of their partnership, they both knew it was time to begin a new chapter in their career. That’s when they looked to Heartland Dental.

Dr. MacIlwaine and Dr. KowalDr. MacIlwaine and Dr. Kowal

Dr. MacIlwaine and Dr. Kowal’s 30 year partnership began when they completed a General Practice Residency at the East Carolina School of Medicine in 1984. The residency set the tone for their partnership and made them realize they both wanted the same thing for their dental careers. That year, the two moved to Richmond, VA and opened their first private dental practice, Family Dentistry of Short Pump, in a 960 square foot office. Ten years later, they moved to a 2,600 square foot space to accommodate the practice’s growing patient volume. Continuing to experience growth, they moved again after ten more years into a 4,000 square foot office and have remained there since 2004.

Keeping up with the 10 year trend, 2014 brought Dr. MacIlwaine and Dr. Kowal to a new crossroads. While they knew they needed to begin preparing for the future, both wanted to find a way to continue practicing dentistry in the years to come. After speaking with colleagues and doing their research, they found that Heartland Dental was the best match for their needs. “Heartland Dental provided the perfect model for our situation,” said Dr. MacIlwaine. “No other organization could provide the type of support that this organization provides for us.”

It is the administrative support that has brought on so many positive changes to their practice. Before, the two doctors split roles within the office, with Dr. MacIlwaine taking on the financial responsibilities, Dr. Kowal overseeing general management of the team, and both working hard to continue providing quality dental care to their patients. Dr. Kowal noted that, “The administrative burdens had started to drain us and our partnership had started to peak.” Dr. MacIlwaine agreed, “We each had our own separate areas to work on to better the practice. Now with Heartland Dental’s support, we can work together, focused on the same mission.”

That mission is to provide high quality dentistry to their patients. With a schedule that’s virtually free of administrative tasks, they have been able to focus solely on patient care. “Heartland Dental has helped us improve our relationships with patients drastically, especially with the implementation of advanced communication techniques,” said Dr. MacIlwaine. “We’re able to work smarter with patients, enabling them to comfortably make a decision about their health and their treatment so that they can receive quality dentistry.”

Not only has their relationships with their patients improved, but their relationship as a team has improved as well. “Heartland Dental has enabled us to become more aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, therefore being able to understand each other better and complement each other better, which trickles down to the staff,” mentioned Dr. MacIlwaine. Dr. Kowal added, “We’ve fought all the battles for over 30 years together; through all the changes, all the trials and tribulations, and we have become better partners because of it.”

Dr. MacIlwaine and Dr. Kowal both wanted the same thing for their dental career since day one – a well-run practice, quality dentistry for all of their patients, and an organization that is based on systems. Now with Heartland Dental’s support, they have one common, proven source that helps them continue to move forward with everyone on the same page. “When we started together at the East Carolina School of Medicine, we felt like we had found a new, better land to build our dental careers on,” said Dr. Kowal. “That feeling has been rejuvenated with Heartland Dental’s support. We have been given the opportunity to find a new peak in our partnership.”