Watch Intro Series

Learn How One Dentist Found Her Lucrative Niche – Episode 274


Dr. Michelle Jorgensen

How Do I Get a Podcast?

A Podcast is a like a radio/TV show but can be accessed via the internet any time you want. There are two ways to can get the Dentist Money Show.

  1. Watch/listen to it on our website via a web browser (Safari or Chrome) on your mobile device by visiting our podcast page.
  2. Download it automatically to your phone or tablet each week using one of the following apps.
    • For iPhones or iPads, use the Apple Podcasts app. You can get this app via the App Store (it comes pre-installed on newer devices). Once installed just search for "Dentist Money" and then click the "subscribe" button.
    • For Android phones and tablets, we suggest using the Stitcher app. You can get this app by visiting the Google Play Store. Once installed, search for "Dentist Money" and then click the plus icon (+) to add it to your favorites list.

If you need any help, feel free to contact us for support.


From start-up to cosmetics to a niche that was knocking on the door of a DSO sale, it’s one practice owner’s journey in dentistry.

To celebrate Dentist Day 2021, Ryan interviews a practicing dentist, Dr. Michelle Jorgensen. Dr. Jorgensen’s 20-year career’s fascinating trajectory includes a serious bout with mercury poisoning—the result of replacing old amalgam fillings.

Find out how that puzzling illness, which put her on the verge of selling her practice, led Dr. Jorgensen to a unique health-based dental niche whose surprising growth has DSOs intrigued.

Show Notes:

Totalcareacademy.com

https://www.facebook.com/livingwellwithdrmichelle/

 


 

Podcast Transcript

Ryan Isaac:
Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode of The Dentist Money Show, sponsored of course by Dentist Advisors, a no commission fiduciary financial advisor just for dentists all over the country. Check us out at dentistadvisors.com.

Ryan Isaac:
Today on the show, we have a different guest than we’ve had, a different type of guests. It is a practicing dentist, Dr. Michelle Jorgensen. She tells us about her very awesome and unique story. Her journey in dentistry of starting a practice, facing some concerns in her life, and then building an entire practice niche around making her quality of life and quality of practice better. And what that turned into for her career in her practice which is so incredible. She has so much to teach us here. We got to do this again, I’m sure. I think everyone will just love this interview, but Dr. Michelle Jorgensen. So enjoy the show today. Thanks for joining us.

Ryan Isaac:
If you have any questions, go to dentistadvisors.com. Click on the book free consultation link, or go to the Dentist Advisors discussion group on Facebook, post a question, we’ll give you an answer. Again, thanks for joining us everybody. Enjoy the show.

Announcer:
Consultant advisor, conduct your own due diligence when making financial decisions. General principles discussed during this program do not constitute personal advice. This program is furnished by Dentist Advisors, a registered investment advisor. This is Dentist Money. Now, here’s your host, Ryan Isaac.

Ryan Isaac:
Welcome to The Dentist Money Show where we help dentists make smart financial decisions. I am your host, Ryan Isaac, and here with a, I’ll say longtime friend, Dr. Michelle Jorgensen. Michelle, thanks for joining us. Thanks for being on the show. How are you doing today?

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Thank you for inviting me. I’m excited to be here.

Ryan Isaac:
Yes. There’s so much interesting stuff to cover. Let’s start with a very brief intro knowing that we’re going to cover your career and some of the really interesting things that you’ve learned and done over the years. Well, let’s just start with a quick intro to who you are, where do you live, practice? When did you get started? And you can keep it brief because we’re going to cover a lot of detail on the pathway along the way.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Good. Yeah. So Michelle Jorgensen, I’m a dentist in American Fork, Utah. And I’ve been here actually in this practice for, it will be 20 years in a month. So we’re nearly 20 years in the exact location we’ve been for the entire time.

Ryan Isaac:
Congrats.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Thank you. I practiced with my father for about 10 of those years, and then he left the practice and it’s definitely been a different practice since he left. It’s changed in a lot of different ways. So those are some of the things that I think are going to be interesting to talk about today.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah, that’s awesome. And just a heads up, this is a pretty new format for anyone who’s listened to the podcast. And we haven’t done a lot of direct interviews with dentists, something that we’re really interested in doing moving forward. There’s just so much to learn from somebody’s individual path, and no two journeys in dentistry are the same. There’s just so many nuances and things that are different along the way. So let’s begin. You’ve built a really cool, like you said, 20 years in one place, family business that you took over, transformed, changed a lot. Think you’ve had a lot of, like everybody, ups and downs. And you’ve also been able to carve out a pretty interesting niche for yourself, remove yourself from clinical dentistry. You’ve considered selling. You’ve gone through a lot of cool things that are really relatable and helpful to people to learn.

Ryan Isaac:
And so that’s why we’re just excited to have a practicing dentist come on and share some of these things. And all of these things relate. They trickle down to how it impacts your financial life. All of these decisions impact your money and your finances in different ways. And so this is just really helpful. But let’s just begin with, let’s start with something pretty common to a lot of dentists, which is taking over for a parent’s practice. How was that transition for you? How did you know you wanted to get into that with him, and how was that transition? And then, how did it change when he exited things?

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
So we actually started the practice together. He sold a practice that he’d been at 20 years previous to that in a real rural area. So he sold that. We built the practice together from scratch really as just a scratch practice. I brought a few patients from my associateship. He brought a few that were willing to travel two and a half hours. But it was really a new thing for both of us.

Ryan Isaac:
Curious right there. How did he come to that conclusion that it was time to hang it up in the one spot and then just start this over with you?

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
It was a life transition point. My youngest brother just graduated from high school. They actually went to that location because it’s where work was in the late seventies, when interest rates were crazy and there was no work to be had. And so he went there, but it wasn’t because that’s where we were from. It was a real rural area. My mom said, “Listen, our kids are graduated from school, nobody’s going to come visit us here, it’s time to move.” So it’s interesting because I’ve talked about this a lot with friends and colleagues. His generation and previous, you worked in one job, in one place, for your whole life. That’s just what you did. My generation, we’re a little bit of a transition point where we’re realizing maybe you don’t have to do that, but it’s still a little bit expected.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
And then I think younger generations from myself don’t expect that at all. They think that they’re going to be in multiple places, perhaps even multiple careers, which is super unusual for me to wrap my head around. And that’s honestly part of my transition now, is realizing the thing I was, and I love to be 20 years ago, isn’t necessarily the thing I am in love to be today. And it’s actually okay.

Ryan Isaac:
And it’s okay.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
It’s okay.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah, it’s totally fine. It’s going to be all right.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Yeah. Yeah. So he’s actually done that. Like I said, he sold that practice after 20 years. He came in and practiced for me for about 10. And at that point he was at another life transition point and so he left. I had a doctor join me and assist as an associate. But at that time I had some interesting challenges myself. I was going through a lot of health issues and I had the typical things. Everybody’s always dealing with some digestive issues, fatigue, energy. But I had real challenges. My hands were going numb and it was making it so I couldn’t sleep at night, but it was also making me so I couldn’t practice dentistry. And I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t know what I was going to do so I actually had the practice for sale. My dad had exited, I had an associate, but I was selling the practice, but I didn’t know what I was going to do.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Late thirties. I’m the income earner for our practice, or for our family. My husband works at the practice as well. So we were losing everything at that point, if we were going to be selling this practice. So I finally, through a lot of work, found out it was actually mercury poisoning. And I do want to make sure dentists know that this is a possibility for them.

Ryan Isaac:
What?

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Yeah. I’ve been a cosmetic dentist. We’d been pushing all of these, removing mercury fillings because they’re ugly, they’re black, all of this kind of thing. And I didn’t know it could be damaging and I’ve been breathing all that in for, it was about 12 years at that point, with no protection. And finally a practitioner told me that. He said, “Listen, you’ve been breathing all that in for 12 years.” And I’ve since learned my genetic makeup is such that I don’t get rid of junk like that very easily. So my dad’s a dentist and he’s still 70, still practicing. So he’s still practicing. He has never had a dang issue, but I’m not. And I wasn’t, 10 years in, I wasn’t. And it was causing horrible neurologic issues to the point that I couldn’t even practice dentistry. So I had to figure out a way to continue drilling out those fillings, because people still needed me to do that, but yet keep being a dentist, if I wanted my career,

Ryan Isaac:
So just real quick. How far into the partnership with your dad was this occurring? He had exited. So it was like 10 years with him, he had exited, and you’re the first few years solo after him. And then you find out.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Yup. One associate. So now I’m like, what am I going to do? What am I going to do?

Ryan Isaac:
You were probably looking forward to, oh he’s gone. We’re going to build this practice now.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
We’re just going to keep building.

Ryan Isaac:
And then that.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
And then this, this hit. So, I looked at every option for selling. I looked at DSOs, I looked to partner. I looked at everything at that point and nothing felt right. So I figured out, I’ve got to fix me to continue doing this. So I did. And the doctors just said, “Basically, you can’t get all this mercury out if you’re continuing to breathing it in all day long every day.” So I found there are organizations that did this, like there are ways to draw out mercury fillings so you’re not breathing it in. And so I changed my practice for me. I did it just so I could continue practicing. And all of a sudden people would say, “Hey, my doctor was looking for somebody who did this. Who drilled out fillings this way. Is it safe for the patient as well?”

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
And all of a sudden I started getting doctor referrals and I thought, this is new. I didn’t know this could happen. And not dental doctor referrals, doctor, doctor referrals. Chiropractors, MDs, wellness centers were starting to refer patients for this. And then they would say, “Hey, do you do this?” And I didn’t have a clue what they’re talking about. I’m like, “I don’t know what that even means.” So I would go and I would find some obscure class and teach myself and learn how to do it. And then I could say, “Yes, I do that too.”

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
And what this practice, this struggling practice, this was again, if you think about what 10 years ago was happening you knew we just had gone through a major recession and things were slow. Things were struggling. And all of a sudden the struggling business that I was struggling in physically started taking off in a way that I didn’t anticipate. Because we were getting referrals from sources we had never gotten referrals from before. And all of a sudden I realized, here’s a niche in dentistry I didn’t even know existed.

Ryan Isaac:
What did you call it, by the way? Was there an obvious description of what that niche would be or how has that evolved over time?

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Yeah. I’ve evolved the name over time. Now I call it Health Based Dentistry.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
So it’s Health Based Dentistry, and oftentimes the people that we see and work with are those that are looking for health and realizing that dentistry has a huge part to play. And I tell patients and dentists this all the time, dentists actually have a responsibility. We see patients every six months. Who goes to the doctor every six months for prevention?

Ryan Isaac:
Nobody.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
No one. No one goes to the doctor every six months. So we see people every six months, we actually have a responsibility to identify what could be happening from a health standpoint. And I’ve learned that dentistry has 60 to 80%, or plays 60 to 80% of the role in chronic disease. That’s enormous. 60 to 80%.

Ryan Isaac:
Our mouths, the things that are happening in the mouth, oral hygiene or oral health, plays 60% of the part of our total health.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
You got it. So this is enormous for dentists. Not only is it enormous responsibility, but it’s an enormous opportunity.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah, that’s huge.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Because there are so many things that we do and it’s dentistry. We’re removing fillings, we’re replacing things, we’re doing them in a little different way, but we’re also identifying disease largely through CT scans now. We’re able to identify disease that we didn’t even know existed before, underneath filling root canals and areas where teeth were removed that never healed properly. Because I can see the bone, I can see what’s happening. And now we have such a strong referral base with doctors because they’re seeing results.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Oftentimes these patients, they haven’t been able to get results with their doctor and so their doctors helping them find other resources. Because obviously everybody just wants to [crosstalk 00:11:03] better. And so they found us and they’ve said, “Okay, these guys give you answers. They find answers that we can’t help you with.” And so we work hand-in-hand with these doctors now and we help people get better.

Ryan Isaac:
That’s so cool.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
So it’s been really cool. And like I said, not only has it been rewarding, but it’s been financially rewarding. The practice has really grown because of this.

Ryan Isaac:
Well, I think that’s like the Holy Grail in a lot of businesses that people, even in our industry, every time we go to conferences for investment advisors, there’s always breakout sessions that are the most popular sessions on how to pick a niche for your business. And it’s a lot easier said than done. So rewinding then back to this time, you’re fixing your practice for you so that you have longevity and sustainable for you. And then you started seeing this growth from referrals and outside sources. What about in the community? How did patients and people in the community start responding to this? Was this a marketing initiative or how did you spread that message outside of that? Or was that enough? Were the referrals that were unexpected enough?

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Both. It would have been enough if the practice had stayed the size that it was, but I saw opportunity for growth. So we decided we would use this as the thing that we would market to. So we’ve marketed different channels and that’s been fun and unique as well. Sometimes when you find a niche like this, you find a different marketing angle. We are normally we’re doing just the cut and paste marketing things that most dentists do.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Now, we’re talking a different message. We’re using different channels. We’re partnering with people who are big, I hate the word influencer, but people know what it means when you say that word. So we partner with people who have influence in the area of health and wellness, and are using them now to help spread the message. And because we’re helping people, they’re happy to do it. That’s the cool part. Usually in dentistry we have to pay people to market for us but this, we don’t. We don’t have to pay anybody. Everybody’s just sharing the message because it’s helping. So that’s been really rewarding.

Ryan Isaac:
That’s so cool. How did you have to respond to the growth in space or flow or processes, systems, the staff, the team you had, more producers? How did that evolve to keep up with the demand?

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
All of the above. Yeah, because it was myself and an associate at the time that we started growing and I was still having numbness issues. I don’t think it’s ever going to completely go away because mercury is a neurotoxin, it affects the way your nerves work. So I really wanted to stop doing restorative dentistry. So I brought in another dentist that would help do the restorative piece and I was strictly surgery at that point. So I was doing a lot of surgery and we were bursting at the seams and I didn’t want to move because I liked the building we’re in. We’ve taken really good care of it for 20 years. You’d never know it was 20 years old if you walked in the doors.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
So there was a dentist that practiced right next door, literally like 15 feet from my building, next door, same layout as my building. So I really wanted his space. So I told him that I would find him another job somewhere that would be less money, and I literally sent my office manager down the road and she knocked on every dentist door and said, “Do you have any extra space? Would you like someone to space share?” And we found a place for him a block down. We helped move him out and move him down and I occupied his space we’ve since built it out. So now I doubled my space without moving.

Ryan Isaac:
I don’t think I ever knew the full picture of that story. And it’s funny, I’m listening to an audio book right now on negotiations called, Never Split The Difference. And I think that would have made the book for all time top negotiation deal. That’s pretty amazing.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Yep. Yep. So now he’s saving money. He’s working with somebody else. They’re splitting costs and I have his building. And he said, “I figured out how much lease …” Because he’d only built out half the building, so I figured out how much he was going to pay in the next 15 years he projected to be there in lease payment for the empty space he never figured out, it was like $225,000. I said, “So I’m going to save you $225,000 that you can put towards your retirement account and I’m going to just move you out.” I paid a top dollar for his used equipment and I just moved in. So that’s how we expanded our location. We built an education center there and then we’ve grown the team from about six people to 30 people. And I now have five associates that work for me.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Like I said, I was doing surgery and it killed my shoulder unfortunately. I just don’t know that I’m physically meant for this.

Ryan Isaac:
It took it’s toll on you.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
And when I work I do like 10 hour surgeries and I stand the entire time anyway. So I’ve now actually, post COVID, moved myself completely to all I do is new patient intake and treatment planning. And I have five associates that I then just continue keeping their schedules full. So that’s another financial thing as well. Dentists always wonder, do you have to be the sole provider? And I was a big provider. I was a big producer and we didn’t know if we were going to survive with me moving out of that producer role. Now I joke I’m doing really good if I produce $20,000 in the month. I’m like, “Yes, I’ve killed it this month, man.” Because all I’m doing is new patient exams. But you know what? Our profit, our take home has not hardly changed a penny. It’s been really interesting to see how you can transition. Again, it’s okay. It’s okay if I’ve been the dentist, the worker, the hard worker for 20 years. It’s okay to take a different role now.

Ryan Isaac:
Do something different. Yeah and you said this in the beginning, it’s a really cool time for a lot of things, but in dentistry specifically where there’s more options than there were before. Here’s what’s interesting that I find you probably recognized relate to this, is there’s a lot of people who their longevity in dentistry is in jeopardy because they don’t like the clinical day-to-day grind. And if they can’t figure out a way to do that they’re at risk of burning out early, and ruining an opportunity to stay in one of the most profitable highest income careers that exist. Arguably, you could say that dentistry is the highest income career in the country. So take us through a little bit of that from the first associate to number five, until you’re now just meeting with new patients and consults, and not doing any clinical. How did you do that and what advice would you give your younger self going back now that you’ve seen all this on how to build that model?

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Talking to my younger self, I’d say, “You need to keep doing what you’re doing for a little while.” Because I believe, in dentistry in particular, you have to have some experience under your belt. I couldn’t do my job that I’m doing now if I hadn’t actually done a lot of those things already. I couldn’t treatment plan. Now, when I’m at a treatment presentation with a patient, a lot of times my treatment presentations are huge. There’ll be 50, $60,000 patients. They’re not just a little, you have a filling and a crown deal. They’re big. And so I have to believe what we’re selling to be able to really present that to a patient. And I talk about, this is a difference a little bit in what I do too. I say that I don’t sell anything, I prescribe care.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
So it’s very different. As a dentist, we can prescribe care. We can prescribe care that will help them to achieve something the patient’s wanting. So I just prescribe all day long. But I had to do the dentistry to be able to prescribe it, if that makes sense. Does that make sense?

Ryan Isaac:
Oh yeah.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
I have to be able to look at a CT scan and I have to look at it from a clinician standpoint and know what I would do if I were the one doing the dentistry, to be able to treatment plan accurately. And I’m not a hundred percent. I’ve tried to calibrate with my doctors and we’re pretty dang close, but I needed to be in clinician for a little while. So for those of you who are in dentistry, you do need to do it for a little while.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Do you need to do it for 20 years? Probably not. I think I probably could have learned what I learned in less years than that. But the thing that I think is key in the associates that I’ve been able to bring into my practice is, we have a strong philosophy. So we’re more than just a place that’s going to be moving people through fast. We’re more than the dollar. We’re way more than the dollar. We talk about dollars, obviously we have a lot of goals. We have benchmarks. We have things that we try to reach. But that’s not the first thing we talk about. We talk about the way we care for people. We talk about a philosophy. And what I found with that is that that attracts the best practitioners, because that’s why people get into dentistry.

Ryan Isaac:
It’s the pride, it’s the passion. People take pride in that stuff, they want to do that. Yeah.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Totally. Everybody says, “Why’d you get into dentistry? Because I want to help people.” But you know what? Honestly, it’s probably true. Maybe you got into dentistry because you want to make a lot of money, but guess what? You make a lot of money helping people. So you need to help people to make the money. The money is just a result of the care you provide.

Ryan Isaac:
It is. Yeah.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
So you provide care, you make money. So that’s the big thing is that we really talk about philosophy and I’m strong in philosophy. Second thing is, is I get practitioners that are experienced. So all but one of my doctors has been a practice owner previously. Because of that, they actually have a very different, they look at a schedule, a different way. They look at how to manage a team in a different way. And they appreciate the support I give them because I do all the management for them obviously, but they need to still manage their individual teams. So I give them a lot of autonomy.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
They’re in charge of their team. They’re in charge of their schedule. They’re in charge of how things are going to work. And I trust them implicitly. So they know it, they know it, that I trust their work and I trust them to provide the care that our office is known for. And I think when you provide an environment like that, where there’s autonomy, they feel like they’re their own producer, they can manage their team, and there’s a bigger goal that we’re all working for, that we’re focusing on, you attract the best practitioners.

Ryan Isaac:
You are hitting one of my favorite books on human motivations written by a guy named Daniel Pink. It’s called, Drive.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Love that book.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah. So autonomy, mastery, and purpose. And that’s what you’re giving your whole team.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
It’s like creating a DSO environment inside of private practice.

Ryan Isaac:
Matt it’s time.

Matt Mulcock:
Time for what Ryan?

Ryan Isaac:
It’s time to book a free consultation at dentistadvisors.com. Just click on the big book, free consultation button on the homepage and talk to one of our friendly advisors today.

Ryan Isaac:
What are the future goals moving forward? Is it a 10 associates? Do you need new space? Is that your new active marketing strategy? Is, hey former or current owners who are dissatisfied being owners.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
That’s a great idea. Perhaps that should be an active marketing campaign. So, that brings up, I was going to sell to a DSO. I actually had a DSO sale that was going to close December 23rd of 2020. The year of all things good in the world.

Ryan Isaac:
The year of all things.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
2020, right? Everything happened in money.

Ryan Isaac:
Almost Christmas Eve.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Almost Christmas Eve.

Ryan Isaac:
Real fast. I’m sorry, I just I’m really fascinated by this. When did that begin? How did you arrive at the decision, okay, I’m going to sell this thing. How did it begin? How did you do your due diligence and pick that company and then to the end, what happened?

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Good question. This actually is a very good question and it answers your previous question. So I was feeling overwhelmed with the business. Here I am, I have five associates. I’m doing all the management, marketing, everything, and I’m carrying everything on my shoulders. I’d stopped doing a large piece of the clinical work but there’s still so much else. So I decided okay, the best way, and I have a hard stop. In about five years I would like to be out of this. So I thought, okay, if I’ve got five years, the practice has grown to the point now that I’m really pricing myself out of a individual buyer. An individual buyer isn’t going to be able to come and buy this practice. It’s too large.

Ryan Isaac:
And none of your current associates are going to be the buyers because they don’t go down that road.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
That was my first approach.

Ryan Isaac:
That was the assumption?

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
That was my first approach. So March, right before COVID hit, I offered a partnership to all the existing associates.

Ryan Isaac:
Got it.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
And for different reasons, they all declined. Interestingly enough.

Ryan Isaac:
Did you expect that? Was that surprising to you?

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
That was a big surprise to me. I thought that they would be excited about this partnership, but there were different reasons there were. And now, looking back, it was actually the thing that should’ve happened. But it was a blow. I thought, really? Well, the first thing I thought was, I’m giving you way too good of a gig here. Apparently I need to make your life a lot worse, otherwise you would be jumping on this thing. But for different reasons, they all said no. So I was very frank with them and said, “Listen, if you aren’t going to partner, I’m going to find someone to partner with.” So I’m going to find a buyer, an organization, a someone. And I was very upfront about that. So they knew that when they said, no, it meant I was going to continue looking.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
So I started reaching out to different DSOs, and there are some that market a lot. There’s some that you have to go digging and find on your own. There are brokers that just broker for DSOs. I reached out to a couple of those. So I had a lot of different feelers reaching out, but there were some things that I needed to have for a DSO partnership. I needed to have somebody who would allow me clinical autonomy. Because I’m fee for service, which means I am not going to be having a DSO that’s strongly PPO, a base, because it would be ridiculous for me to change to a PPO base now. I needed to be able to continue doing this health based dentistry, which is slightly different than, well really quite different, than most PPOs are going to be based around, anyway. So I had some things I needed.

Ryan Isaac:
Very specific.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
I also wanted someone who was interested in this model and perhaps perpetuating this model within their DSO themselves. Because I really would like to help grow it, but I don’t want to do it myself. So I was very particular and I found a group that I felt very good about. That I felt like they met all of my criteria and they were going to be good. So we were going through the negotiations. We were nearly to the end, we were all the way done, and one of my associates decided to share with me, last minute, that he was going to be leaving the practice and starting his own practice. The only one who hasn’t owned a practice yet.

Ryan Isaac:
Which is what happens with most associates who have never been owners before. That’s the life cycle.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
It’s kind of a lifecycle, yep. Unfortunately, because I’m no longer doing clinical dentistry, it’s scared the DSO off. And they said, “Wait a minute, he’s your largest producer.” He’s my longest term, longest largest producer. Said, “This changes the deal for us.” And so they changed the structure of the deal and took half of the cash at purchase off the table. It was now going to have to be an earn back situation, which I could do a whole hour just on DSOs alone. Now that I’ve learned, I could really help a lot of dentists. But anyway, it got to the point where I was literally going to have to take a loan to sell my very large practice. And I said, “I would have to be an enormous idiot to do that. And you don’t want to partner with an idiot, so I think we are not going to be moving forward with this. Thank you very much.”

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
This is the Saturday before we were going to close on a Wednesday. So it was a big blow. I thought, what in the world? But now looking back, I realized, you know what? I think I was going to be a fish out of water in that DSO world. This was probably a huge blessing in disguise. And I’m going to do exactly what you’re talking about. So this is now back to your question previously, how do you do this? How do you move yourself out of the clinical realm? Well, you really have to set some boundaries and set some goals, and create a management structure inside of your business that isn’t totally dependent on you. So this whiteboard behind me, you can’t see it because you’re only listening.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
But there’s a whiteboard behind me that’s literally my weekly schedule. And I have three buckets that I put things into. And there’s only a certain amount that I can put into each bucket. So for the dental office, there’s only so much that I allot per week that I can do in that bucket, and my managers have to do the rest. So there’s a point that every business comes to in the growth cycle where a dentist does all the dentistry. And then the dentist helps other people do the dentistry. And then the dentist manages the managers who are helping other people do the dentistry. That’s the point I’m at now. And I’ve really had to learn a lot of different business skills because dentists don’t know how to do these things. And they don’t know how to manage people. We don’t know how to delegate properly. We don’t know how to do any of this stuff.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
So I’ve really had to learn and teach myself. And honestly, just tell myself, just stop, just stop doing everything. Dentists, I think we’re typically high achievers, high-performers as a group. So I can do everything all of my team does, but I just have had to tell myself, “You’re not going to do everything your team can do anymore, if you really want to run it this way.” So now that’s what I’ve done is I’ve really moved into that strong managerial role and I’ve had to learn how to let other people do their jobs. I have a whole different thing that I love now. I’ve written a couple of books and I have a third book that should actually be published in about a month from now.

Ryan Isaac:
So cool, awesome.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
And that’s really where my life is going now. And that’s really where I like to spend my time. So I have figured out, back to what you said about dentistry’s an extremely financially strong career, right? And a lot of dentists get super excited about owning a gym, or owning a carwash, or leaving dentistry because they’re tired of the dentistry part of it. I figured out that you can actually do both.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
You can own the business. You can still reap the rewards of being in dentistry, and you can do the thing that you feel passionate about or love. You just have to be very, very good at devoting certain amounts of time to each entity and giving it what it needs to be successful still without taking your eye off of where we’re going financially. It’s not easy. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. So really that’s what I would tell a lot of dentists. If you’re just like thinking, man, I’m just not loving where I’m at, so change where you’re at. Don’t change where you’re at, but change what you’re doing where you’re at.

Ryan Isaac:
One thing I wanted to touch on which probably will be more podcasts in the future, but do you want to speak a little bit to women in dentistry? I think statistically, the actual practicing field of dentistry is about 50/50, but the dental student population is now more than 50% women in dental school right now. And so traditionally women haven’t owned practices at the same rate that men have, but I’m seeing that change a lot. And like you said in the beginning of this, the options for doing dentistry, running businesses and participating in all this, are so varied and dynamic now that we’re all not just stuck into like one traditional path anymore. Do you want to speak to that? Like maybe the future, what you’ve seen accomplishing all this. And again, that’s probably a whole other series in podcasts, but you have some thoughts on that you want to share?

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
For sure. Yeah. When I was graduating dental school, so there were 86 in my class, 12 of us were women. So it was a much smaller percentage when I graduated 20, 25 years ago.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah, very different.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
It was a much, much smaller percentage than it is today. But even then, and now, there were a lot less female practitioners that went into an ownership situation. Obviously there’s reasons for that. Family considerations, spouse working in other fields. I’ve had all of those things. I have four children. We actually had a couple extra kids live with us too, so I like to say I had six kids. My husband is an engineer, a very successful consulting engineer. But a few years into the practice when we had twin toddlers and a brand new office and life was just a little out of control, he actually transitioned to the practice and has since been … You’ve worked with him.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah, shout out to Steve, yeah.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Because he’s an engineer he runs things really quite nicely at the practice.

Ryan Isaac:
Very logical, very literal thinker, love it.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Very logical. Which is great because I’m actually not very logical. I’m super creative and I have lots of ideas and flowers and he likes to put them all in rows. So it’s a nice combination. But I know that the challenges exist as a female. But I think in dentistry today, we just have to realize that there are so many different options. You can be a practice owner and employ others, and it is still financially very viable to do that. You can be in a practice and work part-time. You can partner with a couple of different. I have a good friend, I think she’s been at least 30 years in dentistry. She’s always had female associates. So she owned the practice, but she’s always had female associates.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
She’s never worked more than two or three days her entire career. So there’s ways to work with other female practitioners who have the same desires and the same challenges as you do. I’ve actually never had a female associate, which I’m really sad about. Someday I will, but there’s a lot of good that the female psyche brings to dentistry. We bring that caring piece and perhaps it’s stereotypical to say that, but I think it’s accurate. I think that it’s an accurate stereotype to say.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
And a lot of times patients are really attracted to that. And if you remember, the large majority of patient that is seeking out dental care is going to be the woman in a home, looking for dental care for she and her family, correct? So a woman is oftentimes looking for another woman practitioner. This is something that a female practitioner can really capitalize on, honestly. I’ve shown you don’t have to always be the one breaking your back, doing the work, to run the practice and have it run on that care centered platform. So it’s possible. It’s possible for women to do this.

Ryan Isaac:
Let’s just wrap up with, you talked about an education center. We didn’t even touch on that. Books you’ve written. I assume you do a fair amount of education and probably speaking to different groups. Where can people find the things you write and the things you teach about, and how can they connect with you online?

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
If people are interested, it’s funny because again, one of those three buckets back here on the whiteboard is what I call, Total Care Academy. But this year I’m not going to do a lot with Total Care Academy. And interesting, as soon as I said that, all of a sudden there’s all these people who want to be in Total Care Academy. I don’t know what it is about that.

Ryan Isaac:
Come on guys.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
When I decide I don’t want to do anything with this. Just this morning, I was setting up a whole bunch of online phone calls with people who were onboarding to Total Care Academy. But that means thankfully last year, and the year before, I spent creating the Academy. And all it is is it’s an online Academy for dentists who are interested in learning how to provide health based dentistry in the practice.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
So it’s totalcareacademy.com. The biggest bucket right now for me is what’s called, Living Well with Dr. Michelle. And I know it rhymes and [crosstalk 00:34:14].

Ryan Isaac:
That’s awesome.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Living Well With Dr. Michelle. That’s what my last two books have been under the title of. And so they’ve been on emergency preparedness and self-sufficiency. Interestingly enough, people don’t have a clue that that’s my whole life. I’m building an education center here now for Living Well. Have an education center at my practice for the Academy. So that’s, Living Well With Dr. Michelle. And one thing I’m doing for dental offices is actually having you as affiliate offices. If you want to affiliate as a Living Well office, I create all the content for you and you just provide it for your patients. So you keep them engaged in the conversation.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
Oftentimes they don’t really want to know that much about fillings. They’re not that exciting. Really dentists aren’t even that excited about fillings. So if that’s all you have to talk about with your patients, they get pretty bored and they’re just not going to read your stuff. So we provide content that’s really interesting, really interesting. We were just planning out our next three months this morning. Really interesting content all about natural health products to use, a spring cleaning your mouth, what does that look like? What was April? Breathing. A breath of fresh air. Talking about breathing and airway and sleep. And anyway, so that’s content that we provide through Living Well With Dr. Michelle. So people can-

Ryan Isaac:
Living Well With Dr. Michelle. [crosstalk 00:35:28] That is so cool. Man, Michelle, thank you for doing this and being here. I’m sure we’re going to do this again in another segment. This is really fascinating. So thanks for taking the time, we appreciate it.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen:
You’re welcome.

Ryan Isaac:
Yep. And thanks to everyone for listening and tuning in to another episode of The Dentist Money Show. And we appreciate it, we’ll catch you next time. Thanks everybody.

 

Practice Management

Get Our Latest Content

Sign-up to receive email notifications when we publish new articles, podcasts, courses, eGuides, and videos in our education library.

Subscribe Now

Related Resources