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Leaders in Dentistry: Melissa Marquez, DentalOne Partners

By Tony Edwards, DrBicuspid.com editor in chief

Melissa Marquez began her career in dentistry as a dental assistant. But rather than pursue a clinical appointment, she put her passion into dentistry’s business aspects. Now, as the recently appointed senior vice president of operations for DentalOne Partners, a dental service organization (DSO) based in Plano, TX, she is well-placed to discuss the challenges the profession is facing.

Melissa Marquez is the senior vice president of operations for DentalOne Partners.

Marquez addressed the profession’s perception of DSOs, how her organization works to create opportunities for women dentists, and how the industry will evolve over the next few years in an email interview with DrBicuspid.com.

Marquez acknowledged her organization, and all DSOs, face some perception issues within the dental community, particularly among some vocal private practice advocates. In fact, she initially harbored some of these misconceptions herself.

Specifically, she thought that an office of a DSO might feel impersonal and corporate-centered to a patient.

“There are several misconceptions about DSOs,” she wrote. “The one I would love to correct the most is regarding the patient experience.”

Rather than the office feeling like a medical clinic, she has found that the offices DentalOne supports focus on the patient.

“My DSO experience has always been centered around the patient and allowing the doctor to determine what is best,” wrote Marquez, adding that “centered around the patient” means ensuring quality patient care and providing dentists with clinical autonomy.

“The clinical support team follows the philosophy that the doctor has autonomy in creating the treatment plan for the patient,” she stated.

Retention challenges

Retaining dentists already on staff and providing younger dentists with growth opportunities are two issues all dental organizations face constantly, Marquez noted.

“The personal growth and development of the doctor as a clinician is really crucial [to retaining them],” she wrote.

“ There is room for the DSO model and the private practice dentist to coexist.”

DentalOne addresses clinical development by offering training and certifications in areas such as dental lasers and clear aligners. The DSO also offers the use of advanced technologies for treating patients with periodontitis.

“One thing that sets us apart is the clinical continuing education opportunities and the mentorship available,” she wrote.

With more than half of dental students being women and more women in the profession than 20 years ago, an organization has to focus on how to understand how these practitioners can thrive. DentalOne’s chief clinical officer is a woman, and the organization understands the issues doctors face in balancing their professional and personal lives, Marquez noted.

“Our chief clinical officer has the experience of being a female in the industry, and she truly understands how women can excel in the role of dentist,” she wrote.

Alter the face

As Marquez has both private practice and DSO experience, she’s well-placed to see where the profession is going over the next few years.

“New technologies and changing insurance marketplace dynamics will no doubt continue to alter the face of dentistry over the next five years,” she stated. “You combine that with a growing patient population who understand more about the systemic links with dental care, and we are poised to continue the growing need for family dental practices.”

Overall, however, Marquez thinks there is room in the profession for both the DSO and the private practice models.

“There is room for the DSO model and the private practice dentist to coexist,” she wrote. “We are likely to see even more young dentists attracted to the DSOs as a pathway to practice and achieve work-life balance.”

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