Preparing for the Practice of Your Dreams: What You Should Know and How I Did It

Featuring Dr. Emily Funk

Dr. Emily Funk attended Columbia for her DDS and was matched at the University of Pennsylvania for her residency in orthodontics, graduating in 2021. Through her residency, Dr. Funk worked with the Henry Schein team to select, build out, and design her beautiful office. Emily Funk Orthodontics began welcoming patients only four months after completing her residency. After working through a residency and opening a new practice, Dr. Funk shares how she broke the process down into digestible steps.


Dr. Funk urges you to think about why you want to open a practice and to imagine the type of environment that you want to work in each day. Although each step in the process is significant, Dr. Funk says, “I think this is the most foundational important part of the process because if you’re clear on your vision, the rest of the steps kind of fall into place, and when you’re not sure what the right answer may be, if you think back to that vision, most of the time the answer will present itself.” Key questions include:

  • What types of procedures do you want to offer?
  • How many chairs do you want?
  • How many patients do you want to see per day?
  • Who is your ideal patient?

Determining who your ideal patient would be is highly important. Envisioning the persona of your ideal customer will help you get a clear idea of who this patient is. Additionally, it will help you to market your services effectively as well as tailor the messaging and marketing for that group. Dr. Funk shares the below image of general patient groupings for you to imagine who your target patient may be.


This does not necessarily mean a specific address, but perhaps a zip code or area that you would like to be in. Dr. Funk shares that identifying a locale is a merger of two items: lifestyle factors and demographic factors. This is essential as you want to be able to find a place that has favorable demographics, but it also needs to be somewhere that you are willing to live.

Consider how far from your office you want to be. Do you want to live so close to your practice that you are running into patients while you’re out and about? Some doctors may not mind this, while others may rather keep their personal lives private. Also, consider if it is an area that provides opportunities for your spouse or your children if you have them. Is it somewhere that you can see yourself living long term? Dr. Funk shares that there is sometimes a trade-off between the demographics and the location. For example, the more rural areas are going to tend to have better demographics because there’s typically less saturation and fewer practices, but the lifestyle piece of those more rural areas may not be as appealing. The demographic factors that Dr. Funk recommends you look for include the following:

  • population
  • median age
  • household income
  • employment
  • existing dentists
  • physical geographic barriers
  • education

After looking into these, make sure what you are looking for in your practice matches up with the demographic data. Once you have established your locale, you will want to enlist the assistance of a broker with experience in commercial real estate that has familiarity with the area, access to demographic data, and ideally, experience with medical and dental professionals. They will be a big help in the negotiation process.



Dr. Funk shares that this can be overwhelming and offers a few tips for how she managed the process. Her first recommendation is to work with a health-care-specific lender. The structure of these loans tends to be more favorable because of the low default rate on loans for dentists. In some cases, dentists may be approved for full financing plus working capital which is not the standard for any other type of loan. Dr. Funk mentions that the sooner you can start thinking about this step the better. Making sure all pre-approval documents and financial paperwork are in line allows you to move quickly on a space.

Dr. Funk’s found that many of her colleagues felt overwhelmed with their student debt and feared it would lessen their chances of obtaining funding. Dr. Funk assures these worries by sharing her experience, “the banks actually don’t care too much about your student debt…what they do care about is if you are delinquent on any debt so make sure that you are making your loan payments.” Banks also want to see two years of work experience, a good credit score, at least five percent of your total loan amount in liquid assets, as well as favorable demographics, and a solid business plan.



With each step defined and completed, Dr. Funk began working with Henry Schein Equipment Specialist, Dan Mulvey, and Senior Designer, Renee Susami to start creating the practice of her dreams. Check back in next week for a deeper dive into the design, construction, and subsequent opening of Dr. Emily Funk’s dream practice.


Click here to view the entire webinar for Dr. Funk’s full experience on opening her own practice.

For more information on financing, check out the Henry Schein Financial Service team here.

Are you are looking for assistance in opening your practice? Click on the image below to schedule a consultation with a Henry Schein Equipment Specialist.