Retirement for Dentists: These Days, Retirement is Totally Optional

Dental Retirement Survey ResultsOne in Five Dentists Can’t Afford to Retire

In a recent survey, The Wealthy Dentist asked dentists about their retirement plans. Two-thirds of our dentist respondents say that they expect to choose keep working part-time to keep themselves busy. Only 13% replied that they’re on track financially and will retire completely once their financial goals are fully met. One in five dentists would like to retire, but aren’t sure they will be financially able to afford it.

We also asked dentists about their target retirement age. And aren’t the specialists lucky! They’re planning to retire an average of six years before their colleagues practicing general dentistry.

What’s your target retirement age?
Average: 63 years old
General Dentists: 64 years old
Specialists: 58 years old

Check out the complete dental retirement survey results

Dental Practice Management: Is a Financial Arrangement Coordinator Necessary?

Dental Practice Management: Is a Financial Arrangement Coordinator NecessaryThe dental office financial arrangement coordinator is an important part of dental practice management.

The financial coordinator assists dental patients with making payment arrangements and coordinating dental insurance benefits so that dental treatments are compatible with the patient’s budget, thus you, the dentist, get paid in a timely manner.

When asked about having a financial arrangement coordinator for his dental office, one California dentist complained, “I wish everyone would just pay at the time of service!”

In our most recent survey, The Wealthy Dentist asked dentists if they employ a team member as a financial arrangements coordinator, and dentists were pretty split on their responses. 55% responded that they do not employ a team member as a financial arrangement coordinator, and 45% responded that they do employ a team member to carry out this important dental practice function.

Dentists’ feelings on the subject are mixed; some feel this type of position is better suited for larger dental practices, while others insist it’s absolutely necessary to have someone handle financial arrangements.

Here are just a few of the comments from the responding dentists:

“I have 1 designated team member to make financial arrangements, but occasionally another member has to step in due to the primary being out of the office for various reasons.” (Nevada dentist)

“We estimate dental insurance benefits, and receive the patient’s portion on the date services are provided. Other than that, the only other financial arrangement offered is through Care Credit. Our receptionist comfortably handles this as part of her duties.” (Illinois dentist)

“This is probably a great idea for larger multi-dentist offices, but I find it is not likely to be cost effective in a smaller practice.” (General dentist)

“We have only one person and no one else discusses money. That way it stays simple and patients can’t say someone told them something different. For the most part we have a set of rules to follow, but there is always that special situation where we break the norm.” (General dentist)

“Complete necessity to have someone ultimately responsible and the ‘go to’ person for all financial arrangements, especially patient interaction.” (Michigan dentist)

“An absolute necessity to have one person handling this!” (California dentist)

“This position is vital to keeping cash-flow running smoothly.” (General dentist)

“I make all the necessary financial arrangements directly with my patients, but I am an old-fashioned dentist in a small town, and I want to know what is going on (financially) with my patients.” (Kansas dentist)

How do you handle this dental practice management position in your dental practice? Is one person designated as your financial arrangements coordinator?

Dental Retirement Plans Changing Due to Economy

Over 60% of dentists in this survey acknowledged that the present economy means they now plan to work longer than they’d expected.

Said one dentist, “I wonder if I’ll ever be able to retire and maintain my lifestyle, which is NOT extravagant.”

  • 62% say they plan to work longer.
  • 25% say their retirement plans are still holding steady.
  • 11% say “Retirement plans?!? What retirement plans?”
  • 2% say they’ll retire early and be done with the whole mess.

Unexpectedly, the younger dentists in our survey were more likely to say they anticipate working longer — four out of five dentists under 50 said that, while only 3 out of 5 doctors over 50 did.

Here are some more thoughts from dentists on the subject of retirement:

  • I love dentistry, but this sucks!” (New York dentist, 62)
  • “I’m beginning to wonder if full retirement is really a worthwhile goal anyway… All I do now is work, and I love my profession!” (Georgia orthodontist, 54)
  • “Plan ahead, it works!” (Florida dentist and investment advisor, 64, retiring early)
  • “I feel as though I may have to work forever!!!!” (California dentist, 65)
  • “”I am not interested in retiring. I do want to change my practice to do more implants, dentures and ortho.” (Utah dentist, 63)
  • “I still have 10+ years until I retire. As for now, I am refinancing everything I can to the lowest rates I can so that in 10 years I will be in an even better position to retire than I would have been… assuming we recover at least most of our losses from the past year.” (Missouri dentist, 51)
  • “Even though I started saving very early, with today’s uncertain times, we can only hope the economy will turn around so we do not have to work longer.” (Florida dentist, 42)
  • “I’ve been working 3 days a week for 10 years without loss of production, so retiring in place is working for me… Although the stress of dealing with a more unappreciative public is difficult at times.” (Louisiana dentist, 61)
  • “Put ’em in jail…no Bailouts!” (Florida dentist, 52)

Read more: Slumping Economy Means Some Dentists Can’t Afford To Retire


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