Why I No Longer Practice Dentistry

Dr. Alfe's "Back Story"

I’m often asked, “Dr. Alfe, why did you retire from dentistry at such a (relatively) young age?”  

My Answer: That’s a valid question!  

I loved practicing. I loved running my business. I loved training and building my team. I loved my patients. I loved being able to help people realize their potential and gain (or re-gain) their self-confidence.

My back didn’t love it, though.  

By the age of 43, I’d had THREE major back surgeries (this is why I call this my “back story!”). My surgeon informed me that if I continued to practice in the same manner, I’d definitely end up on his operating table at least one more time in my professional life.  

While I adored my surgeon, I didn’t want to see him professionally, ever again! So, I adapted. I started practicing standing up, instead of sitting down. I was diligent about practicing yoga and pilates to keep my core tight and my lower back protected. I stretched daily.  

In spite of all this, I knew I was living on borrowed time. At the age of 50, I started thinking about making a career change. My back wouldn’t be able to withstand 10 more years of dental practice.  

Added to this, my mom died suddenly and unexpectedly that year. I’m an only child. My dad still lives in the Boston area. I knew I needed more flexibility in my schedule. I wanted to be able to fly out there often to help him out.  

I made the difficult choice to give up practicing so I could take care of my family and myself. I still miss interacting with my team and my patients every day. I miss the “reveal” appointments when I either removed someone’s braces, finished their Invisalign treatment, or delivered an amazing set of veneers. I miss “giving a patient her life back” when I treated her TMD or migraines. I miss watching my team grow and develop their skill sets. I miss teaching other dentists in clinical CE courses.  

All that being said, I LOVE what I’m doing now, as much as I loved practicing! I’m able to help my colleagues build their practices, nurture their teams, and wow their patients. My goal is that every one of my clients experiences as much joy, fulfillment and satisfaction as I did during my 25 years of practicing dentistry and owning my business.

How did I decide on my next career?

I owned two completely different dental practices over my 25-year career. My first practice was a large, partnership practice with 10 treatment rooms. After I moved to Chicago, I built my last practice from scratch. I designed it purposefully to be a boutique, high-end cosmetic dental practice that provided exceptional customer service. Both practices were true Fee-For-Service practices. I was not in-network with ANY insurance companies. This does not mean that I think this model is right for every single dentist out there… because it’s not! Every office is unique. I evaluate the practice’s:

  • Geographic Location
  • Local Demographics
  • Existing Patient Base
  • Dental Treatment Mix
  • Number of Employees
  • Existing Schedule for each Provider (Dentist(s) and Hygienist(s))
  • Opportunities for Expansion
  • Existing Financial Policy 
  • Short- and Long-term Goals of the Dentist Owner…

Just to name a few areas! I work with my clients to help them clarify, hone, and then realize their unique vision. 

Why did I choose to be an Executive Coach for dentists?

For starters, I was a coaching client for 20+ years! I learned, first-hand, the value of working with a coach. My first coach (who is still my friend!) taught me:

  • The importance of being a strong yet thoughtful leader
  • The importance of training my team and then TRUSTING them to execute the plan
  • The importance of “letting go” of my micro-management tendencies
  • The importance of learning how to run my business instead of my business running me
  • The importance of evaluating what was working….and what wasn’t…and what I needed to change
  • The importance of communicating effectively and eloquently

There is NO DOUBT in my mind that my life would have been VERY different if I hadn’t been lucky enough to meet my first coach early in my career. And not in a good way!

I worked with three different coaches for over 20+ years. Each one of them made a profound impact on my life. Let’s face it, all the business systems/protocols/checklists, etc. are pretty much the same. The one-on-one relationship you have with your coach makes all the difference.  

On your best days, I’m your cheerleader, celebrating your wins with you and seeing how we can propel you even further.

On your worst days, I’m your close confidante, giving you support.

On many other days, I’m like your true best friend… that person who will love you even when you don’t love yourself and will also tell you the (sometimes) ugly truth.

One of the things that drew me first to healthcare, and then to mentoring, lecturing and training other dentists, is my desire to give back. To make an impact on others’ lives. To lift up those around me.  

Why the heck did I get my MBA degree?

Yes, I owned two very successful practices.

Yes, I trained dozens of team members and helped them develop and grow.

Yes, I trained hundreds of dentists on how to build more lucrative and efficient practices.

Yes, I took thousands of hours of CE and read over 100 books on how to hone my “soft” skills, as well as my business skills.

I have been a life-long student of many subjects: leadership, customer service, business, relationships, psychology, in addition to dentistry. I knew that there was so much more for me to know.  

Being able to take a “deep dive” into all of the above subjects, with close training from my MBA instructors, was invaluable. I can quickly evaluate a P&L, balance sheet, KPIs, and cash flow statement for any kind of dental practice. I know that there are many dentist-owners who do not like to “deal with the numbers”. I get it. And you know what? You have to deal with the numbers. I can show you how to do it quickly and confidently.



Intrigued? Call, text, or ge*********@fo*********.com“>email me to schedule your complimentary 30-minute introductory call. We can see if we’re a good fit for each other! Stop stopping yourself from reaching your goals and your dream life. I can help!