Giving "Heartland Dental Family" a New Meaning
The Foster’s discuss having four supported doctors
For the Fosters, being a Heartland Dental supported doctor has become a family tradition. Four family members, Drs. Kathleen, Stephen, David and Zach Foster, are all experiencing success at different Heartland Dental supported offices.
Though they had different paths to Heartland Dental, they are all now enjoying freedom from management challenges and clinical growth.
Their legacy started when Dr. Kathleen Foster joined an Evansville, Indiana office in October 2005. After experiencing the advantages firsthand, she encouraged her brother, Dr. Stephen Foster, a practice owner in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, to consider an affiliation as well. He was hesitant, however. “In the beginning, I was leery about Heartland Dental, but my sister finally changed my mind.” In August 2014, he became supported by Heartland Dental.
Looking back he laughs at his tentativeness, “I am very stubborn, so it took her nine years to convince me. Once my son, David, joined, that helped my decision as well. Now, I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner. It has opened so many opportunities, and I don’t know why anyone would want to practice another way.”
“We are just so grateful for what Heartland Dental has done for the family. It has allowed us to remain in the same area.”
After he graduated from his father’s alma mater, University of Tennessee - Memphis, in 2011, Dr. David Foster started in his father’s office. He remembers, “As Dr. Mongrain teaches, you have to have work in life and you have to have family. To me, it is not worth it to mix the two so intimately that they may negatively affect one or the other, so that is when I looked into Heartland Dental.” To be close to home and family, Dr. David Foster settled in a supported office in Gallatin, Tennessee.
Inspired by his aunt, father and brother’s experiences, Dr. Zach Foster became supported by Heartland Dental right after graduating from UT Memphis and started practicing right across the street from his dad’s office in Mt. Juliet. When a denovo office opportunity came up in White House, Tennessee, the chance to lead a brand new office was too good to pass up. “I never imagined I would be opening an office by myself right out of school. It was challenging, and I can’t imagine doing it on my own. Having Heartland Dental and my family’s support was a huge help. It has been challenging but rewarding.”
His father and brother see his growth and both are proud of his successes. His father says, “He’s hitting home runs,” while his brother shares, “He’s six months out of school and doing great. I’m just really proud of him.” Both David and Zach’s accomplishments are in part to their first mentor, their father. Before going to dental school, they worked as chairside assistants in their dad’s office. He recalls, “In high school they weren’t very good employees. They’re awesome now, but that was rough!” Stephen’s sister, Dr. Kathleen Foster could say the same for him as he worked in her office as well. Sharing his thirty years of experience with his boys gave them the edge they needed to feel confident in leading their own supported offices now.
Dr. Stephen Foster’s sons recognize positive changes in him after his affiliation with Heartland Dental as well. David said, “If you look at dad, and I don’t think I have ever told him this, it looks like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders.” Zach added, “He was stressed out of his mind. It has been a huge relief for him not having to worry about paying his staff, etc.” Reminiscing on his almost 30 years of private practice, Stephen agrees. “Every new problem I was reinventing the wheel, and Heartland Dental has all of that figured out. You just try on a wheel and see if it works. The wheels are already there. You just put them on your car and roll.”
Originally, Stephen had planned on all three of them practicing together in one office. The opportunity to grow within the same organization has exceeded that plan. “We’re still practicing together, only with the added freedom to do our own thing and practice our own way. It’s taken a lot of the friction out of our relationships, both personal and professional. Being able to stay together has been the most beneficial part of being supported by Heartland Dental.” Zach shared, “We are just so grateful for what Heartland Dental has done for the family. It has allowed us to remain in the same area.” Their vicinity and the additional time they have as supported doctors has even brought family game night back.
The Foster’s are the largest family unit within the Heartland Dental family, and the supported offices they are in are lucky to have them. With four grandchildren, Heartland Dental can only hope the Foster tradition will continue.