Choosing to Create Your Success

In Impact by Dental Entrepreneur

Do you want to know the difference between new grads who cross the stage and succeed beyond their wildest dreams – and those who struggle…


It’s simpler than you think. Those who struggle leave their success to chance. Those who massively succeed create it by choice. Let’s walk through some of those choices here, leaving no time to waste on chance and struggling.




People’s choices are, very frankly – the most important of all your choices as a new dentist. Some will tell you process comes first. Here’s why I challenge that concept. People break processes unless you have the right people. When you’ve chosen the right people, and you add the right process, that’s when you accelerate and have control over your future.


Here’s the challenge. In life – there are known, knowns. There are known, unknowns. And there are unknowns. Hence the phrase – you don’t know what you don’t know. Hence the life truism – that you and I often choose the wrong people when we believe we are choosing well. Think about that person you dated who you thought was amazing – even when some of your family and friends knew better. They were amazing – until they weren’t. And then, somehow, you saw what those who warned you saw. AKA – choose very carefully. 


Here’s a short list of the people I’d want to know right now if I’m a D3 or a D4. D1s and D2s – if you want to get ahead of the game – you can get started on this list too!


  • Mentors – if you’ve followed along here at DE in the past – you know I highly recommend three types:
    • A cheerleader to help keep you motivated
    • A contrarian to help you see your blind spots 
    • A top 2%er to help you achieve faster and more predictably


P.S. This is an area too many young dentists miss out on. All I can share is where you are after your first five years will define how successful you are. I’ve coached hundreds of dentists. Your first five years are critical. When you’re ready – email me at We have mentors of all ages – crushing it in all practice models. 


  • Insurance – it’s one of those things you pay for and hope you never need. The right broker will shop for the best companies and policies for you. Every other broker will shop what puts the most money in their pocket, whether it helps you or not.
    • Disability – get it before you graduate – absolutely within 6 months of graduation! You get a significant discount now. It’ll cost you if you wait. It’ll cost you more if you wait, and you’re one of the 80%+ who need it.
    • Term life – if you have kids – it’s cheap to get now. It’s costly to get it later
    • Malpractice – if you’re graduating. I highly recommend negotiating your ability to buy your own policy and get reimbursed.


P.S. If you want the best people in dentistry – reach out to me at Twenty-nine years of speaking and traveling has helped me filter in the best of the best. I’m happy to connect you.


  • Financial planner – yes – I know you don’t have any money. Great financial planners won’t care. They’ll invest in helping you build your plan now even though you’re not paying them yet. Crazy stat – most 65-year-old dentists cannot afford to retire. I know – that won’t be you. That’s what they all said as dental students, and here they are. Get a plan in place now. You’ve worked too hard not to.


  • Attorney – if you’re graduating and going right into practice. Associate contracts are easy on the front end and really difficult when you’ve signed one without a lawyer and want to terminate your contract early. This happens every day! You’ve spent a ton on dental school. Don’t let a few hundred dollars keep you from a great attorney protecting you.


  • CPA – if you’re making money now and/or graduating this year. Here’s the deal. Uncle Sam is greedy. He’s going to try and take a major percentage of every dollar you make. The best CPAs will keep him in check.




Now that you have a head-start on some of the most valuable people – it’s time to know what processes help you dentists today. Process takes you from doing what most do… winging it – to what the most successful do…make all their choices of data and best practices. Emotion is our enemy. Data drives our best decisions. 


As a young dentist – here are some best practices for your best practices.


Understand and choose the practice model that best suits you. There are many. 

  • You can associate with a traditional practice
  • You can associate in a DSO
  • Some DSOs are nationwide
  • Some DSOs are regional
  • You can start up from scratch
  • You can acquire a practice
  • You can go academic
  • You can go to public health or the military
  • You can do more than one part-time


Each offers strengths. Each brings risk. Go to your lunch and learns. Listen. More importantly – question. You’re often only getting half-truths. The danger in that is you’re often getting the wrong half – and the only one who loses here is you.


P.S. If you want to get the whole truth – shadow each model for a few days. Ask the young dentists how great it is. Ask the team how great it is. 


Go all in

  • Every highly successful person I have ever known goes all in. When you do this – one of two lessons arises. You either learn you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be, or…
  • You learn this isn’t the practice and/or model for you. Both are outstanding lessons you want to learn as quickly as you can. Waking up 3, 4, or 5 years later and realizing it then really slows you down.


Take more CE

  • This is likely the last thing you want to hear as a student. And I know there are at least Facebook groups that tell you school should prepare you better so you don’t need more education. They are dead wrong – and wouldn’t be a part of my people, FYI.
  • When we graduate dental school, our greatest asset is our ability to think critically. Materials and technology progress quickly. In fact – there’s not one material or technology I use today that I used in school – not one. 




  • There are a few ways to look at production.
    • Goal setting – this is healthy – until it isn’t
    • A measure of success – also healthy – until it isn’t
    • Inspiration to be your best – my favorite


  • Let me elaborate. I like a mindset shift in production from one tooth at a time, to complete care. When you and I see our patients in totality when we learn to diagnose and treat their total oral health, we will give them great care, and by association – yes – we will be very productive. 


The key is that CE is in the process bucket – given by the top 2%er in the people bucket. That is how this all ties together. Friends, I truly hope this helps you. Please reach out. We have one goal @igniteDDS. Get you to be a top 2%er in 3 areas – clinically -systematically – and financially. You can live a self-determined future. We can help!


About David Rice

David Rice, DDS, is on a mission to improve our profession by leading the next generation of dentists to grow successful lives and practices. The founder of igniteDDS, Dr. Rice speaks to over 35 dental schools and residency programs a year on practice building, team building and wealth building. Dr. Rice is a private practitioner, educator, author, and mentor who connects students, young dentists, and professionals from diverse dental-related businesses, “fueling passion beyond the classroom.”