May 14, 2021
March 14, 2019 - James Ton
In celebration of National Women’s History Month, we chatted with some amazing female doctors we have worked with who made the huge decision to open their own practice. Featured here is Dr. Gloria Kim of Pinebrook Dentistry located in Chantilly, Virginia.
For over 8 years, Dr. Gloria Kim practiced as an associate dentist at two different offices before taking the plunge into owning her own dental practice. Despite the financial stability and the minimal stress from business-related responsibilities of being an associate, Dr. Kim had the desire for freedom and the development of her practice. "You are limited by the preferences of an owner in what you can do and who you can see," she explains. "I wanted to continue to learn, to be motivated and to grow my skills. That is difficult to do when you have limited means as an employee."
The first question Dr. Kim asked herself before opening her own dental practice was whether or not she was prepared to assume all the responsibilities as a business owner. "For female dentists, we wear many hats, as a spouse, as a mom, and as a dentist," she says. There was also the fear of adding more debt on top of the student loans prevalent with most medical practitioners today. "I have learned to look at business and student loans as an investment rather than consumer debt which needs to be paid off as quickly as possible." Through the encouraging support of her family and the ability to live within her means, she was able to set aside her doubts to begin her journey towards ownership and the opening of her beautiful dental office.
Dr. Kim knew she wanted an environment that was clean and homey and turned to her husband, Kee Kim, for the conception of their New England Farmhouse inspired design. "He found a few photos from Pinterest and the Arminco Designers were able to come up with a very warm, inviting, and timeless design that my patients and staff rave about," she recalls.
For Dr. Kim's trendy farmhouse concept, designers Zehra Arif and Alfred Manalang first started with a white foundation for an open and clean feel. "We included grays to warm up her space while adding rustic elements such as paneling and wooden beams for that rustic look," says Zehra. Stikwood planks, typically used for walls, adorn the hallway ceiling and are joined with oxidized, metal pendant lights with exposed edison bulbs for an interesting farmhouse twist. "For doctors wishing for an inviting office space, abandon the notions of clinical design and be open to the comfortable and livable elements found in our own homes," explains Alfred.
The construction of Pinebrook Dentistry was not without its bumps, but solutions were quickly found. "The building process was very quick and efficient, thanks to the dedicated staff at Arminco Inc," Dr. Kim declares, "I made an effort to stay positive and professional throughout the building process and expected the same from the team at Arminco." Despite being naturally passive, Dr. Kim learned to be more vocal throughout the building process to avoid any misunderstandings and wasted time, understanding this assertiveness as being paramount in her journey as a business owner.
Although she encourages everyone to be their own boss, Dr. Kim admits business ownership is not for everyone. "Do your homework on what it takes to build and maintain a successful office and decide early on in your career if this is something you want to pursue," she explains. Other great advice for those dreaming of opening their own dental practice is to work on clinical skills and finding mentors that are not only great dentists, but also successful business owners. "Learn to live within your means, keep your debt load as little as possible, and start saving for the first year of ownership when you need to invest heavily into your practice," Dr. Kim advises. "And start networking for your dream team now because they will make or break your practice."
To see more of Dr. Kim's office and other dental office design inspirations, visit our portfolio here.
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