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

Featuring Dr. Emily Funk

After defining your vision, identifying a preferred locale, and securing funding, it’s time to begin the design phase. Joining Dr. Funk for this stage is Henry Schein Equipment Specialist, Dan Mulvey and Senior Designer of Henry Schein Integrated Design Studio, Renee Susami.

Site Selection & Design:

Henry Schein Equipment Specialist Dan Mulvey joins the conversation by sharing that in his experience, “the pre-work process can be a little unpredictable in terms of a time frame, but this part [of the process] is where things become more scheduled and much more predictable.” To narrow down your search, it is good to have an idea of how many treatment rooms you would like. Also, consider space for a business manager, associate office, or a consultation space. Mulvey says that “once you know how many ops you want to have in the practice, there are certain standards in the dental industry that will help you [understand that you] need X amount of usable square footage.”

Check out our design calculator to help YOU find this number.

Once you have found a couple of spaces that fit your calculation and practice vision, it is a great idea to have your local equipment partner visit the site with you before you commit to anything. This is key as sometimes there are things that jump out to them that are worth discussing. Senior Designer Renee Susami joins the conversation by sharing that while working with Dr. Funk, there was already one space in mind, but often with other customers, they can be looking at multiple spaces. When that is the case, we can do a quick test fit or conceptual design to see how that space may or may not fit your needs. This simple design blocks out the general flow and function of the space, allowing you to evaluate the space for your practice vision. Take time to consider patient flow, staff movement, and future directions of the practice. The goal is to build in a space that allows growth or advancement as your practice prospers. The test fit will also be able to give you an idea of construction costs.

Dr. Funk describes how she found her ideal space: “the space was an open shell basically, where outer walls were built, but it was a new construction, and nothing had ever been in the space before. I was trying to find a balance between being economic with my budget and not leasing too much space.” Dr. Funk had a clear vision for the layout and shared a sketch with the Henry Schein team as a starting point for the design along with a personal wish list of features to include.



Dr. Funk knew she wanted her practice to utilize cutting-edge technology and digital dentistry, but due to budget concerns, she would have to include these advancements in phases. Compromises such as the type of imaging unit were made, but the size of spaces are built to allow for these accommodations down the road. Mulvey adds insight by saying “you really want to be purposeful with every square inch of the practice to make sure it’s maximizing your wallet and the effect for the patient.” In Dr. Funk’s case, her sketch helped the team put together a floor plan with the same vision in mind.


Selecting Equipment:

The next step in the design process is selecting equipment. Since Dr. Funk was able to go straight from dental school to residency and then her own practice, Mulvey’s expertise was a great help in finding the right fit for her equipment needs. During this step, Equipment Specialists assist and provide insight into each of the many considerations including space needed, technological functions, cost-effectiveness, and insights from the patient experience. While the initial budget didn’t allow for all of Dr. Funk’s ideal equipment, she worked with Mulvey to maintain an upscale feel within her options. To achieve this, Dr. Funk decided on a more economical chair, but splurged for upgraded upholstery. She shared that “patients don’t care about the brand of the chair, but they care about how it feels when they sit in it.”  With this in mind, Dr. Funk based many of her decisions on what the patients would notice.


Interior Design & Finishes:

In concurrence with equipment selections, interior design selections can be made. Dr. Funk enlisted the help of Renee Susami and the Interior Design team of Henry Schein Integrated Design Studio. Like the floor plan, Dr. Funk had a clear idea of what she wanted her office to look like and was able to provide the interior team with a mood board, or collection of interior inspiration. Susami also mentions that having conversations with your contractor early in the process will ensure that you are able to select finishes in the right price range in accordance with your contractor’s bid. Both Dr. Funk’s eye for design and open line of communication with her contractor allowed the design team to take large leaps forward when proposing the color palette, conceptual materials, and design features. Susami and the rest of the interiors team often use sites like Pinterest to compile ideas and gain inspiration. Dr. Funk signed on with Integrated Design Studio’s Signature Service for her material finishes, which is a flat consultation fee for finishes including flooring, wall treatment, surfaces, casework, and trim.



Once these designs and selections are made, Dr. Funk described the construction phase as the fun part where she was able to see her “vision finally come to life.” The Henry Schein team remained involved with Mulvey conducting regular site visits and Susami providing continued support through the ordering and installation of material finishes.

After months of consuming information from online sources, and scheduling meetings and appointments to discuss finances, design, and equipment, Dr. Funk shares that she is “very happy with the process and I’m loving my office and the patients are loving it- it’s exactly what I hoped that it would be.”


If you are looking to build, renovate, or expand your practice, Henry Schein is here to help. Click on the image below to schedule a consultation on how our services can best fit your needs.

Be sure to also check out the full video from Dr. Funk and the team here.