Over one-third of its 80-plus supported practices are female led
Among the more than 200,000 dentists working in dentistry in the U.S. today, 34.5% are female according to the ADA Health Policy Institute (HPI). That percentage is growing as the demographics of the dental industry continue to shift.
Forty years ago, just 7% of dental school graduates in the U.S. were women, according to HPI, and that percentage is up to 49% in recent years. So how do dental groups and practices recruit, attract and retain female dentists and female leaders?
42 North Dental, a DSO supporting dental practices in the Northeast for over 40 years, aims to be an “Employer of Choice.” To be successful, they recognize that the changing demographics of today’s dental school graduates means emphasizing and embracing female leadership across its supported practices, where more than one-third of its 80-plus practices are currently led by women.
Out of the nearly 300 dentists, the top three producers at 42 North Dental supported practices are all female specialists. Their leadership style is embraced at the DSO and leveraged across all brands and practices.
“Dentists and specialists aren’t expected to fit any one style of managing or practicing here,” said Caitlin Maehr, director of specialties for 42 North Dental. “Providers have freedom to practice and manage their team how they want. That leads to more productive providers and a more engaged staff.”
Maehr leads an all-female team providing business support to more than 80 specialists across the organization. There are over 2,000 dental professionals at 42 North Dental and its supported practices, and about 300 of those are general dentists and specialists.
“Our top three producers the past three months are all women who are originally from three different countries,” said Maehr. “We encourage supported dentists and specialists to work together for the greater good of the patients,” explained Maehr. “When you treat patients right, the rest will follow.
The culture at 42 North Dental is at the core of the organization’s success fostering female leadership. According to Maehr, there’s opportunity for growth, development of skills and mentorship by strong women in leadership positions. One such leader is Dr. Maryanne Irwin, an endodontist and member of the clinical management team, who was recognized by 42 North Dental with the Award for Excellence in Endodontics in 2019.
When seeking practices to affiliate, 42 North Dental takes the same collaborative approach. The practice and providers must have an excellent reputation in the field and the community, plus have an empowering culture in place. Strong leadership and a partnership mentality are must haves, all leading to future success and growth for the practice.
One of those affiliated practices is Dynamic Dental, currently the top producing practice supported by
42 North Dental. Its all-female team is led by its dental director, Dr. Erin Hersey. The practice is well-known for its exceptional patient experience and focus on patient-centric quality care. Dr. Hersey oversees all aspects of care to ensure the Dynamic Dental brand thrives.
“Leadership is through action, not a title,” said Dr. Hersey.
She was a Division I swimmer at Florida Atlantic University before attending dental school at Boston University.
“I’m naturally competitive and try to motivate my team by example,” said Dr. Hersey. “I’m lucky to work alongside so many other women and hygienists, assistants and administrative staff. We learn from each other.”
Dynamic Dental’s three general dentists are all women and Dr. Hersey was named a Boston Magazine Top Dentist for Cosmetic Dentistry in 2020.
“I enjoy going to work and creating beautiful smiles. It’s a genuine fulfillment,” she said. “I love the art of dentistry and the relationships with my patients.”
Dr. Hersey is following in her father’s footsteps, who is a dentist in Derry, N.H.
Another top earner is orthodontist Dr. Natalia Hoffmann, who has been with 42 North Dental for 15 years. She was given the Award for Excellence in Orthodontics by 42 North Dental in 2019 and was named a Boston Magazine Top Dentist in 2017.
She enjoys developing a deep understanding and relationship with patients and their family, discerning their unique needs and wishes and believes she is afforded that opportunity at the 42 North Dental supported practices where she treats her patients.
“Sometimes it’s easier for patients to express their feelings and needs to female doctors,” said Dr. Hoffmann. “Many doctors, both male and female, feel compassion and empathy for their patients, but some patients think they feel more comfortable with female doctors.”
That comfort crosses over to her professional partnership with 42 North Dental where she is an equity partner.
“Instead of a competition, it’s a team approach,” said Dr. Hoffmann. “It’s idealized and what we learned in dental school. I love the multiple group practice environment. It’s so easy to refer patients.”
All 42 North Dental supported practices have specialty services including orthodontics, endodontics, periodontics, oral surgery and pediatric dentistry. Providing comprehensive care to patients is an important part of the success.
“It’s not a cutthroat environment. Supported doctors are praised and provided teaching and development opportunities with a work/life balance,” added Maehr. “They have clinical autonomy to treat patients with compassion and empathy. It’s not about how many patients they serve.”
Dr. Hoffmann explained that it’s easier to collaborate on clinical questions when you know your peers so well through 42 North Dental, and that women are welcomed and treated as equals.
“You see how many other women are working at 42 North Dental practices, plus are attending meetings, and it feels comfortable,” said Dr. Hoffmann. “I came in with only one year of experience but there was a lot of trust in me from the beginning. I was able to talk to more experienced clinicians and was able to create the practice the way I wanted to.”
Dr. Hoffmann is currently a top three producer associated with 42 North Dental and is excited for the future.
“42 North Dental is on a bigger mission,” she said. “It’s changing the world of dentistry for the better and I like working with the new, younger directors and dentists they bring in.”