Dental Student Guide: An Honest Dental School Keynote

Hey guys! This podcast is a reproduction of a dental school lecture I did this fall. Several of the dental students asked to make a podcast so here it is! I cut out a few of the juicy points and the Q&A. DM me on FB or Instagram if you want to have me out to your school! @dentistsecure

<<lecture commence!>>

Hey, everybody. This is a lecture that’s not going to be like what you’ve heard before. I think you’ve already had conversations around disability and malpractice insurance from other people that have been here.

Our philosophy on this stuff is a little bit different. Actually, it’s a lot different. I’m going to give you my philosophy today, and tell you about, risk management. I’m giving you this information not to sell you something, but to help you understand that there’s a philosophy out there that you have to operate with that will protect your business and help you along this career path.

Let’s kick it off with this. Why are you guys in here? Why do you guys want to be a dentist? Did you wake up and just want to everyone in the world, to have clean teeth?

That’s probably not why you do this. You’re getting skills, you’re developing yourself, you’re learning more things because there’s one goal out there for you.

Perhaps you won’t admit it, or perhaps it’s right there in the front, but the reason why you’re going to be a dentist is security. Economic security, which can lead to wealth.

But out there, among all the opportunities there are, owning a practice, owning multiple practices, or owning hundreds of practices, making $200,000, $500,000, or $1 million a year, or even $10 million in your career, the other side of that coin is the prospect of risk.

Let me explain it to you this way. As you graduate school, you’re going to have debt. Yep, we’ve all got debt. Then, you’re going to pay that debt off over time, and you’re going to start accumulating wealth.

This wealth, it’s like pushing a boulder uphill. Let’s just use that example. We’re pushing this boulder uphill, and all the while that boulder’s going uphill, it’s increasing in weight and size and importance.

What we do, the philosophy of risk management is to, as this boulder’s being pushed uphill, to create stops in the slope. Stops that protect the boulder from falling to zero.

I tell people when I introduce myself to folks, they first say, hey, Cary, what do you do? I say, if you don’t mind, could I ask you, are you a business owner? Or are you an employee?

If they’re a dentist, your set of risks are a lot different for the most part than an employee. There’s different dynamics at play. Employees, in contrast to dentists, employees have less risk or less worry about economic issues that affect the actual practice. We’ll focus on the dentist owners for now, because a dentist owning a business, when we talk about risk management, we’re talking about creating these stops that keep your cash flow intact. That’s why I say dentists and their advisors hire us to make sure they haven’t overlooked anything that could threaten cash flow or impact wealth or impact the future. Is that clear to everybody? Yes.

Now, your next question should be, Cary, I’m pushing my boulder. It’s real small right now. I don’t need all these stopgaps. I don’t need all these protections. I say, bullshit. You have something that few people have. That is an extremely valuable and profitable future ahead of you.

When we talk about pushing the boulder, we’re not only talking about strategies to protect and to create scenarios where you’re not going to lose, or that boulder’s not going to fall back down the hill, but we’re also talking about how to protect your ability to push that boulder up the hill or the ability to make that money.

Let’s get specific here. That’s the religion of all this. It comes down to tactics. If a salesperson has come and talked to you about disability insurance, and that’s all they’re talking to you about because that’s all they do is sell disability insurance, you’re not being served properly, in my opinion.

You need to seek out people that understand bigger-picture issues that can help you fight through all of these details and look toward the future. That’s what we do every day for new dentists and dentists that are out practicing in the real world.

You should think about what are the risks I’m going to potentially face as a dentist? Then, if that risk happens, what’s the cost to me? What’s the financial cost to me? I break my leg. I’m out of the practice for 30 days. Surgery, recovery, rehab. Can’t practice. What does that cost you?

The total cost for a broken leg looks like this:

The cost of the deductible on your insurance. The tangibles, the real hard costs such as insurance deductibles, prescriptions. Then, we have our lost opportunity costs, which are time away from work, that break down to the lost wages of today and the future value of a current dollar. All of that that figures into this accident.

You have that bucket of money. My young dentists make on average $500 to $1,000 a day base. Let’s just call it $30,000 for the month. I’m out for 30 days and lose $30,000.

That $30,000, by the end of your 30 year career, is worth $129,000. If you lose 30 days of productivity, that lost 30 days equals a bunch of money down the road.

Then, your next question is, Cary, I don’t want to lose $129,000 or even $30,000. What can I do to protect my future income? The first thing you have to ask yourself, are you willing to break your leg? I kind of like skiing. I kind of like wake boarding. I kind of like doing things with my legs in a fun way. I like having fun with my legs.

You’re not going to change your lifestyle based on potential risks. You may adjust some things, but look at what people in this room are doing in their spare time. I’ve seen your Facebook feeds. I know what you guys are up to.

When we look at the cost of risk, there’s one little number in there that we still haven’t talked about, and that is this:

Well, Cary,  I want to transfer that risk to someone else. I don’t want the risk. I want to have fun with my legs and arms and my wrists and my neck and my head, but I don’t want the risk of losing a paycheck for the rest of my life.

What you do is, you finance that risk. You finance the transfer of risk to an insurance company. In exchange for someone taking it and giving you protections, you’re going to pay them a premium.

This is the principle of insurance as it applies to risk.

Yes, Dentist Secure sells disability, life, and malpractice insurance, but we’re using disability insurance as a risk management technique, and we also provide other risk management techniques as well.

When a patient comes to you and says, I have pain, how much is an extraction? How much does an extraction cost the patient? They are thinking short term and making a cost-driven decision. But long term, you know the long term repercussions of this decision to the patient’s ongoing physiology.

If you want to treat the tooth, you want to treat those symptoms, you want to provide the prophy, you want to start down that process and do that restoration, is that more expensive than just an extraction? Yes.

Why? Why is that good? Because you get to keep your teeth. You get to keep what’s supposed to be in your mouth. If you don’t have teeth, you can’t do what you need to be doing with your mouth.

Then, down the road, you need to look at other, more expensive alternative measures. The short-term gain of having your tooth extracted because it costs $20, or whatever you charge, is the same situation we get in when we work with dental students who are graduating who say, disability insurance is too expensive.

If you say that, or if you believe that the insurance is expensive, and trust me I’ve been where you’re at. I’ve been in a lot of debt, and the reality of the future pales in comparison of the reality of now when it comes to paying bills. I totally get that.

If you become disabled, which happens to dentists all the time, it’s not something that’s fiction. It’s something that happens all the time, every day.

Just ask one of my clients. She graduated from this very school. She sat in the other building and learned dentistry. She was smart enough at some point to buy disability insurance, and now, she’s dealing with multiple degenerative issues because she’s been working over patients and being a dentist, doing what she wanted to do. She’s made good money, but she’s young yet. She still has 20 years left of her career, if she wanted to. How much extra money is that? That’s probably $2 million. But she became injured and she bought disability insurance, and she’s being taking care of. The medical bills are taken care of. The lost wages are being taken care of. She can still work and catch pieces of partial disability for the few days that she can work while in recovery.

If this thing escalates, guess what? The carriers we work with can’t cancel the policy. It’s guaranteed renewable. As long as she pays her premium, she’s going to have coverage forever, until 65 or 67, whichever one you want.

My argument for you guys is, when you are thinking about—first thing is, get a good advisor. We think we’re that advisor. I wouldn’t be here barking at you, telling you the truth, if I wasn’t a good advisor.

There’s a lot of people you’re going to come in and interact with you that are sitting in their call center trying to sell you insurance because they have a sales goal, and they will be high pressure. Seriously consider that and think about the long term. Get a good advisor. Partner with somebody that’s going to take care of you, that understands dentistry, that understands the risks, broad-spectrum of risk, that can help you in multiple ways.

Second thing, think long-term and quit drinking Starbucks. What I mean by this is, if you go to Starbucks and you buy basic coffee, and you do that three times a week, that’s $15 a week that’s going to be $60 a month. $60 a month on that. That’s going to be $720 a year in coffee. A $2 million life insurance policy for you right this second, if you’re 24 years old, 25 years old, 30 years old, is $250 a year.

I have a coffeepot here, and it’s a Mr. Coffee. It’s not fantastic, but it works. Here’s a bag of Starbucks coffee. All in, this was $22. I brought six of them. If you want to save $720 a year and put $250 of it, or $400 of it, into protecting your future, then cool. DM me for a Mr. Coffee from Dentist Secure. Dentist Secure coffeepots!

Now, third thing. Cost-benefit. The risk you face of losing your opportunity to earn money is low right now. You’re young. You’re invulnerable. You’re superheroes. However, when you age, the mortality rate, the degenerative issue rates for dentists increase. The policies become more expensive.

Eventually, they become so expensive that you can’t afford them, really can’t afford them. I’ll give you an example. A dentist, 52 years old, came to me and said, Cary, I need a life insurance policy. I’m getting into business with this guy. We’re partners. We both need life insurance.

He says, I need $3 million. Great, let’s do this. I put it together. I got the quotes and put everything together. Can anyone guess what his policy premium was for a 10-year term policy, which means the policy was only good for 10 years. If he died within those 10 years, then his estate would get paid the policy premium. $3 million, 10-year policy term.

What do you think? $15,000 every year. If you’re worried about the cost, factor in, if I’m dropping $1,500 a year on a disability insurance policy, and $300 a year, $400 a year on a life insurance policy, if I don’t do that, what is my lost opportunity cost here?

That’s what you just have to weigh. I’ll tell you this. You’re going to say, okay, let me think about it. I’m going to think about this. Make it down the road, and then guess what’s going to happen? You’re going to get busy, and you’re going to finish school here. You’re going to take your board exams.

You’re going to go through this process, and you may not do it. I just want you to know, I’m going to wrap up here, that in my 15 minutes here, I just want you to know that risk is real.

Things are happening every day, and I only tell you this because for a lot of people, the prospect of having a life-ending event is pretty low, and the prospect of someone getting injured and cannot practice impressive dentistry because of an injury to an extremity or a soft tissue or a degenerative issue for you guys, the reality of that is much higher than death.

But I want you to know that Dentist Secure can take care of you. We do an awesome job, and I’m asking, give us a shot to tell you about what we can do for you today and long-term. We have awesome programs for opening practices and all the stuff downstream. Right now, I want you to engage with us if you we’ll like there’s value in a conversation with us. Take action, okay? All right, cool. Any questions? Let’s take questions.

Dentist Secure is the premier provider of insurance programs for newly graduating dentists. Take a look at their Web site and get in touch for specific questions.

Cary Smith, CPHRM is the CEO and founder of Done Desk, Dentist Secure, and Dentist Secure Labs. His companies provide amazing solutions that manage risk to your people, practice, and patients.

Cary is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management from the American Hospital Association and the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management.  His experience includes leadership roles in HR and recruiting for fortune 500 companies like Motorola, The Hartford, and CIGNA. Cary has trained thousands of medical professionals, provides keynote lectures to local and state dental societies, and works with medical entrepreneurs to address risk within the practice.

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