Drs. Hunter Bennett and Nate Dewsnup

Specialized Dental Partners offers a partnership model that lets dentists keep their autonomy but with the support resources they need to reduce stress and achieve goals.

Exploring the true value of partnership — in business and in life

Dr. Hunter Bennett likes to think one step ahead.

A native of Arizona, Dr. Bennett got his first job at a practice in the Grand Canyon State, and initially thought he’d never leave — until he started a friendship with the endodontist he was replacing at the practice, Dr. Nate Dewsnup, who had moved to another practice in Florida.

It was the potential of a partnership with Dewsnup that got Bennett the most excited about the future. The two endodontists — and eventual friends — started talking about what they wanted out of a practice and how to build a long-term career strategy that felt balanced.

After about 2 years in the Arizona practice, Bennett, who by then was looking to make a move and wanted a partner, made the decision to join forces with Dewsnup in Florida, who had also been looking to team up with the right endodontist.

The two now practice together at Bonita Endodontics in Southwest Florida, which has been a model of great partnership from day one. Bennett said, “Partnering with Nate gave me the ability to grow like I wanted.”

And grow they did. After just a few years in the practice, Bennett and Dewsnup were suddenly busier than they ever thought they’d be. Dewsnup said, “We were up to our eyeballs doing root canals, but we still had to handle all of that back-office stuff, like payroll, 401ks, and onboarding new associates. It was kind of overwhelming.”

“We had decision fatigue,” said Bennett. “Things like PTO, holidays, and hiring would end up falling into my lap or Nate’s lap, and it became too much. As successful as we were, I remember a lot of days just wanting to walk out of the office at 5:00 p.m. and just lie down because I was so worn out.”

Both doctors agreed that they needed help — but weren’t sure about the next step to take. Bennett had a contact at Specialized Dental Partners (SDP) and brought up the idea of partnering with them to Dewsnup. However, it was initially a hard sell, as both were suspicious of working with DSOs and feared ceding control of their practice.

“When I first heard about it, I was an absolute hard no, just because of things that I’d heard about DSOs,” said Dewsnup.

“That was the biggest fear. Are they going to take away all my autonomy and be looking over my shoulder telling me what I can and can’t do? Or are they going to put quotas on things and say, you’ve got to do this many root canals, or you can’t do a root canal that way anymore. And so that made me nervous.”

However, after taking about 6 months to do research and talk with a representative from SDP, both Bennett and Dewsnup realized that having the right partner for the practice might be just what they needed to continue to grow and thrive.

Dewsnup said, “We had gotten to a point where we didn’t know what we were going to do if we kept growing, and we could only go so far alone. How much bigger can we get without really having the wheels come off?”

The pair spoke with several DSOs, but only Specialized Dental Partners offered them the support resources they needed with the empathy and personal connection that mattered even more.

“Partnering with Specialized Dental made me feel like I could go back to focusing on what I do best, which is taking care of patients and doing root canals.”
— Dr. Nate Dewsnup

“As we talked with other groups, it became clear to me right away that they weren’t the right fit for us as a partnership. But talking to the guys in SDP, you could just tell the quality of character. It was a good fit from the beginning. It just felt right,” said Dewsnup.

Representatives from Specialized Dental made Bennett and Dewsnup feel heard — and helped them see how a partnership could help them build toward future goals, while improving their work processes and easing administrative burdens right away.

Dewsnup said, “Partnering with Specialized made me feel like I could go back to focusing on what I do best, which is taking care of patients and doing root canals.”

Bennett agreed and said that partnering with SDP allowed the endodontists to grow more strategically, by providing structure and advice for tasks like hiring new associates or adding technology, while still giving them the autonomy to run the business as they see fit.

Dr. Timothy Jernberg (right), Dr. Nathan Dewsnup (middle), and Dr. Hunter Bennett (right)

But even more than the infrastructure that SDP offered, Bennett said the deciding factor in choosing them was about the people, especially when it comes to the support team.

“They’re always bending over backwards to accommodate what we need and what we do. And that’s something that I’ve really appreciated. I’ve never been disappointed with an interaction with someone from the support team. That’s probably one of my favorite parts, to be honest.”

Dewsnup added that he really appreciated SDP’s willingness to help the doctors as they have navigated challenges in the practice.

“We’ve been through some spots where we’re like, man, how are we going to get through this? And all we have to do is reach out and ask a question, and the people on the other side are more than willing to talk it through because they care. It’s a group of really good people, and that continues to be true. It just makes me more confident in what we decided to do.”

Dr. Nathan Dewsnup with a patient

Even though both endodontists are years away from retirement age, they both agreed that partnering with SDP was a smart long-term strategy for them — and the practice.

Dewsnup said, “This was a really exciting opportunity. I felt like this is the future of our specialty and dentistry in general — so why not get on the train early and take advantage of that potential for growth early on?

Bennett added that lifestyle choices were another big reason it made sense to partner now — as opposed to closer to retirement. He spoke about wanting to have more time to enjoy his life and his family outside of work.

“A lot of it was lifestyle choice, too. I just don’t want to keep running like this, and I want to have more time. I want to delegate some of these headaches.”

In the several years since their partnership with SDP began, both doctors say that life at the practice has become more streamlined and predictable.

Bennett stated that before partnering with SDP, day-to-day issues could quickly turn chaotic. “One thing that was probably the most mentally exhausting in the practice was being really busy all day and then sort of putting everything on the back burner and either dealing with it after work or on Fridays.”

“SDP helped us hire a new office manager to act in more of a managerial role. And that honestly for me has been really, really helpful to find someone that could handle that load. Now, you delegate it, and it goes away.”

However, Bennett stresses that the partners are still in charge of all major decisions — they’re just now relieved of some of the busy work of running a practice. Bennett said, “They’re not telling us what to do. It’s more like an advisory role so we can get things done.”

Bonita Endodontics team

For both endodontists, having the support of SDP to handle the back-office work has made them better leaders. Dewsnup said, “I’ve realized I am still the leader in the practice. Hunter’s still the leader in the practice; it’s still our practice. We have teammates in place now who take a lot of that off our plates, but ultimately, it’s still us. We have to make the decisions. We have to be a positive influence on the team.”

More than anything, Dewsnup and Bennett said that partnering with SDP has helped them take stock of their priorities and position themselves more effectively for the future.

Bennett said, “It’s made me just step back and say, not what do I want next year or the year after, but what do I want in 20 years? And now because of Specialized Dental Partners and how I’ve positioned myself financially, I’m trying to just build for my kids and build for my family in a way to free myself up emotionally and financially in a way that I can sort of be the best of me.”

Bennett added that partnering with SDP also helps them better realize the possibilities of integrated care — and how to incorporate that care model into their practice as they grow.

“Nate and I just met with a local periodontist, and we said we would love to have a periodontist in our practice at some point. We’d love to have a surgeon. And so that’s something that we’re considering and working out because it’s a great service for the patients.”

“While we haven’t implemented it yet, I see huge benefits to that with time. I do think it’s where things are heading in our industry.”

Bonita Endodontics team member greets a patient

Overall, the two partners have really appreciated the value of expanding that partnership with the support of Specialized Dental Partners and can’t wait to see how it will continue to help them become successful in their business — and in life.

Dewsnup noted that the partnership with SDP has re-invigorated him to keep building on what they’ve accomplished so far. “It’s just re-energized me a little bit. It was getting a little bit stale, doing root canals the way that we were and just kind of grinding. But now I’m not just working for the practice. It’s like I’ve got a group of partners throughout the entire country who are counting on me and what we do at Bonita Endodontics. And I’m also kind of competitive. So, when I hear about other partners who are doing things a certain way, I’m like, oh man, I want to learn about that, and I want to incorporate that into what I do. I want to make sure we’re still at the top of our game.”

Want to hear more? Visit https://specializeddental.com/podcasts/episode-28/ and catch the full conversation with Drs. Dewsnup and Bennett on the Specialized Podcast.

Read some of the history of the growth of Specialized Dental Partners here: https://endopracticeus.com/industry-news/us-endo-partners-changes-name-to-specialized-dental-partners/.

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