New dentists share their experiences practicing in a rural community – New Dentist Blog

Kristen Sciolino, D.M.D., is an owner-dentist in Lincoln, Maine — population 4,853.

As a dentist in a small, rural community, Dr. Sciolino said her family wouldn’t have it any other way.

Dr. Sciolino

She is one of many dentists who chose to practice in rural settings, regardless of whether they are in public health, private practice, or a dental service organization.

“The pressure and pace of life in rural areas is different from urban ones,” said Dr. Sciolino, a 2020 graduate of the University of New England College of Dental Medicine in Portland, Maine. “People work hard and play hard here. My husband is a big fan of the small-town vibe here. He has felt more at ease than when he was living in a larger city. I like to think our blood pressure has improved as well.”

She was able to find the right practice through ADA Practice Transitions. Joe Thibodeau was a Lincoln dentist who was searching for a successor after many decades of practice.

“I knew that when it came to find a job, I would like something that was not in the cities, since I am from a fairly small town originally, Dr. Sciolino said.

Dr. Sciolino was sold by the idea of owning a rural practice. After a year of working together, she purchased Dr. Thibodeau’s practice in 2021.

“I think the advantages to being a rural dentist is that the community knows you and trusts you,” Dr. Sciolino said. “They bring their families to you and their friends. It is a fulfilling and meaningful way to be a part the community. Smaller towns are more likely to trust word-of mouth than online reviews. People appreciate a personal connection and feeling valued. I find fulfillment in knowing I am bringing access of care to people who need it.”

She also thanks ADAPT for helping to find her the right match.

“By looking at what interests you, your personality and practice skills, ADAPT works to find the best options for you, not just the closest or most expensive,” Dr. Sciolino said. “I personally feel that is what makes you excited to go to work and your positivity then spreads to your team and community. I have been thanked countless times by patients for being willing to move to a small rural town to take over a practice so they don’t have to search for a new provider.”

Dr. Boynes

Sean Boynes, D.M.D., is president of Dental Medicine Consulting who also serves as the science and research adviser to the American Institute of Dental Public Health.

He is a huge advocate of dentists working in rural areas, particularly for new graduates.

“Rural dentists often tout their ability to practice the way one want, while maintaining a quality work-life balance that allows an individual to enjoy the fruits of their labor and take pride in what they do for a living,” said Dr. Boynes. “The rural environment allows dentists to tap into their inner-entrepreneur and to build a business from the ground-up. A young dentist will have more opportunities to create a unique personal brand. The fresh air and the ability to pay off debt faster is not the only benefit. Personal real estate, taxes and the overall cost of living are also important. [typically] less, there is the ability to be that old-fashioned traditional dentist leader in your community.”

Dr. Boynes added: “There really is something to be said for sponsoring little league sports, having your ad in the school newspaper and getting a good table with the best food at the local restaurant. This has been shown to have positive effects on mental health and happiness, according to numerous reviews. These are just a few examples of the many benefits. [may be] difficult to achieve in the urban setting.”

According to him, working in rural areas could make financial sense.

“There are now more ways to pay off student debt for rural dentists, as many states tackle dentist shortages with loan repayment programs,” Dr. Boynes said. “Many state agencies and national programs, like the National Health Service CorpsThrough the Health Resources Services Administration, you can get a loan repayment in exchange for your practice in a dentist’s chair. Health Professional Shortage Area. These programs offer a range of options and can provide $40,000-$120,000 in untaxed funds.”

Dr. Monopoli

Michael Monopoli D.M.D. vice president for grant strategies at CareQuest Institute for Oral Health said that dentists can be attracted to rural environments if they have worked in rural settings as a result of their dental education, or by being raised there.

“Dentists in rural settings [may] have a closer relationship to their patients, tend to be community leaders with broad influence and enjoy a trusted status in their communities,” Dr. Monopoli said. “They also are able to provide a broad range of dental care services. In that regard, access to specialty referral and support may be difficult.”

Jessica M. Sikora (D.M.D.) is another 2020 University of New England College of Dental Medicine alumna. Her desire to be a dentist in a rural area led her to use ADAPT with Shanna Gagnon (D.M.D.), Farmingdale, Maine (population 2,995).

“I think there are many advantages to being a dentist in a rural area compared to a more urban area, with the most important to me being your interaction with the community,” Dr. Sikora said. “I love that where I work as everyone knows everyone in some way or another. Everyone is so kind and friendly. [I’ve] even have patients inviting me over to their houses for dinner.”

Dr. Sikora

Dr. Sikora was raised in Pennsylvania in a small community and knew from a young age that she wanted to raise her family and work in the same environment.

“When I came to dental school in Maine and decided we wanted to stay here, I wanted to ensure I could replicate what I had back in Pennsylvania where there was such a tight-knit community,” she said.

Dr. Sikora stated that ADAPT helped find the right place for her to practice.

“This community was everything I was looking for,” she said. “I love that I live in an area where I know all my neighbors on the street we live on and that everyone is so welcoming and willing to help out with anything you need. I enjoy the privacy that comes with living in the country. However, it is close enough to major cities so that it is easy to run errands or to go out for dinner. We have also learned to take advantage of all the outdoor activities around us all year long such as hiking, skiing, ice fishing, and paddle boarding which have all been wonderful ways to spend our weekends.”

Powered By the ADA ADA Practice Transitions supports  the future of dentistry by helping dentists buy or sell a practice, hire an associate or find a job. ADAPT connects dentists looking to join a practice and owners who are looking for an associate or to buy their practice.

— David Burger

New dentists share their experiences practicing in a rural community – New Dentist Blog

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