An Introduction to Mastery

Dr. Rick Workman, Heartland Dental founder, and other company leaders support groundbreaking program to help supported dentists become definitive dental leaders

Doctor Mastery Program

Similarly, Heartland Dental also has the mindset of a perpetual student. Supporting ongoing dentist advancement has always been a key element of the company's culture, and the commitment to helping others achieve mastery has been central to every accomplishment over the past 19 years. Now the company is taking that commitment to an even higher level. For 2016 and beyond, Heartland Dental is rolling out an initiative designed to help supported dentists truly achieve personal and professional expertise. This initiative is known as the Doctor Mastery Program (DMP).

The Doctor Mastery Program will help supported dentists of all experience levels become the definitive dental leaders of their respective marketplaces. The five-year program is open to all Heartland Dental supported dentists and consists of clinical training conducted by leading clinicians, beginning with foundational skills and advancing toward mastery of complex dental care.
Definitive Dental Leaders

The Doctor Mastery Program will help supported dentists of all experience levels become the definitive dental leaders of their respective marketplaces. The five-year program is open to all Heartland Dental supported dentists and consists of clinical training conducted by leading clinicians, beginning with foundational skills and advancing toward mastery of complex dental care. In addition to the foundational track, participants will have the opportunity to further their knowledge with advanced tracks. Over the five-year timeframe, the program will help participating dentists achieve a Fellowship with the Academy of General Dentistry, increase access to care, mentor other clinicians and grow their offices by the end of the program. In addition, participants who complete all program requirements will be eligible to receive a "mastery bonus" up to $250,000 which can totally eliminate or significantly reduce student loan debt. Customized approaches will be evaluated for those who have already met FAGD qualifications. For specialists, program qualifications will be met by becoming board certified in their areas of expertise.

"Participants will be leaders via their education credentials, leaders in their offices and leaders in their professions. There really is no downside to participating in this program. There is nothing to lose, only advantages to gain," said Rick Workman, DMD, founder and active executive chairman at Heartland Dental.

Clinically, the educational opportunities offered are designed to enhance participant growth in key areas, from fundamentals to more advanced areas such as IV sedation, oral surgery, implants, restoration, occlusion, orthopedics and orthodontics. Personally, the program will help participants set goals, minimize taxes, create personal finance plans, maintain fiscal responsibility at home and work, plan for reality and eventualities, know the difference between good debt and bad debt and invest in themselves.

"We have always emphasized continuing education, but the magnitude of this program, in terms of what is being offered and what can be achieved as a result, is on a whole new level."

Pat Bauer
Patrick Bauer
President and Chief Executive Officer at Heartland Dental

In terms of management, this program will help participants learn the relationship between revenue, expenses and profits, understand variable expenses vs. fixed expenses, compare their office results with peers, discover and diagnose opportunities for their offices to thrive, and learn and appreciate the appropriate working relationship between doctors, teams and Heartland Dental administrative support staff.

The mentorship opportunities that participating dentists gain is another important aspect of the DMP. By bringing in an additional dentist to their offices as part of the program, participants can help him or her advance by passing on the skills and knowledge they have gained. Plus, additional dentists will only increase the amount of patient care supported offices are able to provide and the number of hours offices are able to treat patients each week.

The WHY Behind the Program

The Doctor Mastery Program is a living embodiment of Heartland Dental's vision and mission. The company's mission has always been to help supported dentists be the best they can be – the best doctors, the best leaders, the best people. The company's vision is to be the leader in dentistry. This will be accomplished by helping supported dentists become definitive dental leaders themselves, so they can provide the highest quality care. This program is designed to do just that. Using a transformative approach, participants will advance their knowledge, making them more effective and proficient. As a result, their offices will experience the benefits.

"It is our job to ensure supported dentists not only receive world-class, non-clinical support, but every possible opportunity to comprehensively further themselves as clinicians and leaders," said Patrick Bauer, president and chief executive officer at Heartland Dental. "The Doctor Mastery Program will allow Heartland Dental to accomplish this mission like never before. We have always emphasized continuing education, but the magnitude of this program, in terms of what is being offered and what can be achieved as a result, is on a whole new level."

Ongoing training for dental professionals is so important that most states require that dentists complete a certain number of continuing education activities each year in order to remain licensed to practice. Ongoing continuing education ensures that dental patients have access to the latest diagnostic, preventative and treatment methods.

This program addresses a vital component of the dental industry – continuing education. As the dental industry continues to evolve, along with evolving patients and technology, advanced education is essential now more than ever. The pursuit of lifelong education – whether to enrich their lives, follow a dream or simply seek out new challenges, appeals to many people. For some professionals, however, ongoing training in their fields of expertise is a necessity rather than an option. Dentists certainly fall into this category. Dentists are entrusted with the health and safety of others on a daily basis. If a dentist chooses to rely upon their initial training only, ignoring ongoing developments and technological advances, they would be putting themselves and their offices at legal risk and jeopardizing the health and welfare of their patients. In dentistry, it is simply not an option to assume that there is nothing more to learn.

Similar to the medical field and many other fields, technological advances in dentistry are constantly progressing. Staying ahead of the curve with the latest research, tools and treatment methods is crucial. Ongoing training for dental professionals is so important that most states require that dentists complete a certain number of continuing education activities each year in order to remain licensed to practice. Ongoing continuing education ensures that dental patients have access to the latest diagnostic, preventative and treatment methods. For dentists just starting out in the industry, perpetual education can open new career pathways quicker. Moreover, dentists who do not stay up to date on their education will not be able to meet the needs of modern dental patients who expect more from their treatment and will ultimately fall behind to other dentists who can meet these expectations.

In terms of amount and value, the world-class educational opportunities offered in the Doctor Mastery Program are unparalleled in the industry. In a brief timeframe, participants can learn a lifetime of knowledge that will ultimately help them become ideal dental leaders. Part of that leadership standing will be achieving a Fellowship from the Academy of General Dentistry. One of the most respected designations in the profession, those who possess FAGD designation are recognized as leaders in the industry. The award symbolizes the professional responsibility of general dentists to remain current in their profession and reminds dental professionals about the importance of acquiring new information for the benefit of their patients.

"Education is vital for all professions, but especially for dentists. You cannot expect to achieve success in today's industry without seeking the knowledge and skills that currently drive the industry," explained Samson Liu, DDS, MAGD, MBA, executive vice president of clinical affairs at Heartland Dental. "The FAGD designation signifies educational excellence; a dentist who is committed to bettering themselves for the best interests of their patients. I'm excited to help supported doctors achieve this accolade through the Doctor Mastery Program and encourage them to continue their education even further."

"Education is vital for all professions, but especially for dentists. You cannot expect to achieve success in today's industry without seeking the knowledge and skills that currently drive the industry."

Samson Liu
Samson Liu, DDS, MAGD, MBA
Executive Vice President of Clinical Affairs at Heartland Dental

The Doctor Master Program also provides education outside of the clinical realm. Dentists are people with families to support, teams to lead, finances to manage and goals to achieve. Yet topics such as financial management, practice management and team leadership are not typically part of most dental school curriculums. These are areas that most dentists must learn on their own over a course of many years. But in the program, both new and experienced dentists will have opportunities to learn from proven, successful experts in these non-clinical areas. What would have taken years to study and develop can now be accomplished in the five year timeframe of the program.

In addition, the program focuses on the importance of collaboration and mentorship. In a field where openness should be emphasized, too often dentists are isolated from the support of peers. Too often this isolation becomes the norm, with dentists seeing each other only as competition. Like so many other Heartland Dental initiatives, the Doctor Mastery Program is built upon a collaborative mindset. The program was designed by leading clinicians for dentists and will be continually carried out and updated with the feedback of those participating dentists. Participants will never be alone while completing the program. They will have the ongoing support from fellow supported dentists in the program as well as Heartland Dental's clinical leadership team. This is where the mentorship aspect of the program comes into play. Supported dentists who have been in the program for several years can serve as mentors to those just entering it. Since courses and study clubs will be available regionally throughout the country, some of these mentor dentists will have the opportunity to lead activities such as these in their areas of practice.

The Impact of the Doctor Mastery Program

Modern dentists are encountering a multitude of challenges, including keeping up with technology, increased costs, reducing number of patient visits, government regulation, legal issues, third party payment changes and more. A 2013 study released by the American Dental Association discussed several other items that have triggered industry changes:

  • Consumers have become much more astute purchasers of health care and seek value for their spending.
  • An increasing number of dentists are being trained, but mounting debt load and changing demographics are altering the practice choices for new dentists.
  • With the increased demand for value in dental care spending, practices will need to become more efficient.
  • As corporations are forced to increase medical insurance costs, after-dental benefits are being reduced, which decreases demand and revenue for dental offices.

As these challenges become more prevalent and the dental industry continues to evolve along with evolving patients and technology, advanced education, collaboration and mentorship is essential now more than ever. That is why this program can have a profound impact on the industry.

The Doctor Mastery Program offers an ideal solution to one of the biggest challenges facing young dentists – student loan debt. In today's industry, the importance of this cannot be overstated. New dental school graduates have a tough time starting out on their own these days. According to the ADA, only 50 percent of new dental graduates currently enter private practice once graduating and many new grads come out of school with upwards of $300,000 in debt, making it extremely difficult to open and grow a solo practice. Most dental school graduates are simply unwilling or unable to take out a loan to finance a new practice on top of already large student loan obligations.

"The DMP is a big step in addressing the actual needs of the industry. It's a big step towards advancing Heartland Dental as a leader in dentistry and signifies the company's growth as a respected leader."

Rick Workman
Rick Workman, DMD
Founder and Active Executive Chairman at Heartland Dental

The Doctor Mastery Program offers young dentists entering the industry an extraordinary opportunity to overcome this challenge and start off on the right foot. In just five years, young dentists can achieve true clinical and leadership mastery. On top of that achievement, they will become eleigible to receive a mastery bonus upon completion of the program which can be used to completely eliminate their student loan debt or at least minimize it considerably. In that regard, this program will help eliminate the student loan debt that so many young dentists are facing across the entire industry.

For experienced dentists, the opportunity is just as valuable. They can take the skills they have accumulated in their career to the next level.

"I'm extremely proud and excited to kick off this program. All in all, everyone involved will benefit – the participants, their families, their team members and most importantly, their patients," explained Dr. Workman. "The DMP is a big step in addressing the actual needs of the industry. It's a big step towards advancing Heartland Dental as a leader in dentistry and signifies the company's growth as a respected leader. I believe all participants will be extremely proud of the results they achieve."