When Dr. Jerry Johnson isn’t enjoying hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities in the land of 10,000 lakes, he is providing outstanding patient care along with his team at Friendly Dental in Worthington, Minnesota. Dr. Johnson brings over 25 years of experience as a practicing dentist, graduating from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Dentistry in 1985. After starting his first practice in Worthington in 1988, he took advantage of several opportunities to expand his care throughout the years, all leading to the building of Friendly Dental in March 2001 where he has been ever since.
Jerry Johnson, DDS
Practicing dentist at Friendly Dental in Worthington, Minnesota
Like many other dentists who experience years of success and begin planning for the future, Dr. Johnson began searching for an associate to buy in to his office. However, things did necessarily go according to plan.
“Getting closer and closer to a retirement age, developing an ideal transition strategy became important to me. However, my initial experience with bringing in associates didn’t work. My first associate did not want to live in Minnesota and moved, the next associate simply didn’t work out from a performance standpoint. The third associate I brought in was Dr. Kelly Phillips, who still practices here at Friendly Dental. Dr. Phillips has been an amazing addition to our team and an excellent clinician, however she was not interested in buying into the office. So as time continued to pass, my transition options continued to dwindle,” explained Dr. Johnson.
With other transition options not working out, Dr. Johnson began looking into DSO support as an option, specifically Heartland Dental. After working with the affiliation team, he decided DSO support was the right choice. In the same month he first opened Friendly Dental 15 years ago, the practice officially became a Heartland Dental supported office in March 2015, and the first supported office in Minnesota.
“It felt like the right fit. Their transition opportunities were right in line with what I was looking for, as was the level of support they offered. The affiliation team did their due diligence to ensure this was the right move for both parties. After that, I was confident to move forward,” said Dr. Johnson. “The initial transition into Heartland Dental’s systems and culture was very positive. With the implementation of new communication and operational systems such as Dentrix and Kodak x-rays, my team was very excited for the advantages these posed. That’s not to say there haven’t been struggles, learning curves and growing pains with implementing these systems. As with any change, challenges will occur. But the more time we commit to them, the more we are adapting. For example, my team feared our new inter-office communication system at first, but after using it consistently, now it has become the norm.”
Dr. Johnson original team from before he became supported by Heartland Dental is still intact. These dedicated individuals are building upon their skills even further.
“We have attended orientation as well as the communication class, which have both helped everyone get on the same page and get to know each other more in depth. Overall, we are communicating with each other better and communicating with patients better,” said Dr. Johnson. “We have only been a part of Heartland Dental for less than a year, but we are eager to participate in more continuing education opportunities that are offered. I have been able to attend the Partnering for Leadership course, and am looking forward to taking Bell Leadership next year as well.”
Dr. Johnson has also experienced advancements with other operational processes, techniques and technology. “Our team is now utilizing Kodak x-rays as I mentioned, as well as the VELscope oral cancer screening system, the Diagnodent laser and other cutting edge services. In terms of goal setting, we now have set goals for each area of our office, which has improved each person’s professionalism, confidence and motivation and the overall success of our office,” he added.
“To any other dentists considering becoming a Heartland Dental supported office, I say do it, don’t wait, said Dr. Johnson. “I’m still the leader in my office, I still make the decisions. But I’m also more relaxed not having all the non-clinical duties strictly on my shoulders. I’m travelling more and happy with my life outside of dentistry. There have been challenges, but overall, it has been a great fit. I have no regrets.”