Life After Dentistry: Lessons Learned from the Archives (Part 1)

Throughout the years, we at N/L Transitions and Dental CPAs have been lucky to work with numerous outstanding dentists as they grew their practices and eventually retired. The transition out of dentistry is a process and has nuances that catch many retiring dentists off guard. We thought it would be timely to reprint some of the advice our former clients gave when asked about retirement from dentistry and the transition process.

In this post, a former client shared his thoughts on how to approach retirement just as he approached any other learning opportunity in his career.

Retirement Lesson 1: Prepare for Retirement Just as You’ve Prepared and Studied Throughout Your Career

It seems to me there are a lot of things about retiring from dentistry that need to be addressed.  Having been in retirement for 2 years following 50 years of active practice in the specialty of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, the lesson to be learned is that one must study, prepare, and understand the “profession of retirement.”  Just as we studied hard and long for our dental career, so should we prepare for this phase so that our natural desire to be helpful, caring, loving, meticulous, generous, exacting, tolerant and all things that combine to make us good practitioners, should be evident when we no longer take that journey to the office every day.

The first obvious preparation for retirement is financial.  Those of us who were fortunate enough or wise enough to have good advisers probably feel quite smug about our situation at the end of our career.  However, this is not an end, but the beginning of a new journey and in most cases, it is an unknown journey.  The use of time, the discipline of daily planning, the desire to contribute are but a few of the areas of preparation that need to be addressed and to be learned.  The financial issue is so important.  To that end, I would advise every student, young practitioner and even the mature doctor to make it mandatory to contribute to their retirement fund. It is essential that they have the best advisers that are available and willingly compensate them for their time and talent just as we were compensated for ours.  This begins with an attitude first.  Then the accountant can bring together the people necessary to reach the goals, needs, and wants that you are seeking. It is never too late to begin this phase of the journey.  What are the financial goals, what are the needs (health, insurance, family obligations) etc. that are required to give you financial stability in retirement? If this sounds like a team effort, you are correct.  Just as we had a team in place (front desk, treatment coordinator, chair side assistant, RN, etc.) so do you need the team for retirement.  That might just be a coined phrase – The Team For Retirement.

This begins with the accountant and extends to the banker, insurance broker, investment adviser along with other specialists as necessary in a given situation.  Then a goal is made, an end-point established and success for financial security become a reality.  It only happens with a plan and the plan must start with mandatory investment while earning power is there.  It can even start with the senior practitioner if he was not wise enough to begin in “embryo.”  The first step is always the hardest, but it is the beginning to that new journey called retirement.

More mistakes made and lessons learned next time.

Dr. Donald B. Lurie, DDS

Takeaways from Dr. Lurie

Dr. Lurie wrote a few guest blog posts for Dental CPAs several years ago when he first retired. What stood out to us from his commentary was that retiring from dentistry is not a goal as much as it is a learning process. Even though that process can seem daunting, the team of advisors he mentioned – the dental accountant, broker, insurance broker, and investment advisor – are invaluable to help navigate this path.

The other point that struck us was his focus on financial well-being. As he said, “use of time, the discipline of daily planning, and the desire to contribute are but a few of the areas” that are part of financial preparation. Even mature dentists that have not put away much in savings throughout their career can start now.

Check out our post on retirement plan options for dentists for more information. To request an appointment to talk about your upcoming retirement plans, contact Ellen Dorner at N/L Transitions.