Wichita dentist Christopher Majors was accepted into the Executive MBA Program at Wichita State University but has put those plans on hold until 2012.
"I'd miss every single football game, and that was going to kill me," said Majors, who has four children under age 10 who also have piano and dance lessons to get to.
"I hope to pursue an MBA from Wichita State, but it's going to be on hold for a while."
In the meantime, he shares a practice with Larry Kuhlman and Eric Larson, is on the faculty of the new advanced education in general dentistry program at WSU and does some consulting with Delta Dental of Kansas.
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A graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry, the Wichita native got his bachelor's degree from the University of Kansas.
"Business is fine. It really is. People are taking care of their oral health needs. If they break a tooth, they want to fix it. Most people want a nice smile, so we're doing fine. We're stable. We're not growing, but we're not going backwards either."
Many dentists practice independently. Does that make it tough to be in business?
"I think it can be, because we have the same challenges of keeping our debt load down but yet keeping up with technology. We all want to keep moving forward technologically but we also want to make sure we can afford to do that."
Why don't dentists practice in bigger groups, as physicians do?
"We're getting bigger. For years, dentists were solo practitioners.... We're finding that younger dentists — they need to be in partnership arrangements due to the high costs and capital-intensive requirements on the front end.... Very few young dentists are starting solo practices anymore. However, large group practices — we're not there yet, particularly in Kansas."
How are dentists different from other small businesses?
"Typically the owners are the doctors, so we have to wear many hats. We have to stay on top of every department in our operation. We're kind of the go-to for every area. We try to build a team to help with that, but the doctors are not only the owners, but they're the operators in every department."
Many dentists offer added services, such as cosmetic dentistry. Does that make up a lot of the business?
"We're seeing a slowdown in cosmetic work right now — just recently. I would say five years ago we were very busy doing cosmetic dentistry. One of the things we're seeing with the economy is a slowdown of elective procedures.... Yet the essential procedures — things that people have to do, they're doing."
Is that an effect of layoffs and other economic woes?
"People are losing dental benefits that they used to enjoy. If they're paying 100 percent out of pocket, they're just going to do the bare minimum."
For a time, dentistry faced work force issues, with shortages of hygienists. Is that still true?
"The current work force status is graduates of dental schools not coming to Kansas. We have a high number of senior doctors retiring in the next 10 years and not enough dentists replacing them.... We're going to have a shortage of dentists in the next 10 years."
What's your biggest business problem?
"Just balancing life and work, and working to live, not living to work — just balancing that. As well as being able to know that people will always need dentistry, so we don't need to fret if things slow down.... But we're definitely not bulletproof."
What's something most people don't know about you?
"A lot of my patients are baffled that I was actually trained as an undergrad in classical piano.... But I needed a job, and I needed a profession."