For John Obeck,’16, the field of dental healthcare is an inherently personal business. “Patients and dentists develop a very close bond due to the frequency of dental visits—cleanings, fillings, and crowns,” Obeck explained.

Obeck, a leadership studies major with a minor in biology, has completed the pre-dentistry track at the University of Richmond and logged many hours shadowing private practice dentists. As he planned how he would spend the summer before his senior year of college, he knew he wanted to explore dentistry from a different angle—the corporate model—and study the business component of running a dental practice.

When Obeck learned about Intelident Solutions LLC/dbs Coast Dental Inc., one of the country’s largest dental support organizations, he reached out to CEO, Tom Marler, to express his interest in an internship.

Obeck remembered the reply he received: “He told me he admired my ambition to reach out, informed me that the company has had several interns in the past, and said he wanted to interview me to see if they could develop a position for the summer.

Obeck interviewed for this position over spring break in his hometown of Tampa, Fl., where Intelident is headquartered, and was offered the job.

As an intern, Obeck rotated through corporate departments—marketing, employee training, purchasing, and financing. Working in each of these areas encouraged Obeck to consider how different models of dentistry create and foster a personal experience for clients. During his marketing rotation, Obeck conducted an audit of the company’s online reputation based on Google Reviews as part of the company’s “Strive for 5-Star Care” initiative for all Coast Dental offices.

Obeck relied on his leadership studies education to consider how to create a business structure and develop personal skills that lead to improved customer service.

“Theories and Models has helped me analyze and write about the leadership dynamic of the office and corporate dentistry in general. Justice and Civil Society has helped me think about underserved patient bases that could use better care,” Obeck elaborated.

As he considers his future, exposure to the corporate side of dentistry has increased Obeck’s awareness of the efficacy of different models of healthcare.

“My internship has opened my eyes to the possibility of potentially practicing in a corporate dental clinic rather than developing a private practice. My plans are not set in stone, but now I believe that corporate dental companies offering ownership for their dentists’ individual practices may be the new, successful layout for the dental industry,” Obeck commented. “This gives dentists full clinical autonomy and the safety net of corporate protection and perks while giving patients lower prices and the experience of a small scale ‘private practice feel.’”

When he begins his career, Obeck will apply not only his experience in different models of dentistry but also his understanding of the personal impact of the profession.

"Many pre-dental students go full on science and ignore classes that can help develop critical thinking and personal skills. Leadership studies allows me to sharpen these skills and understand leadership dynamics that will be crucial when it comes to operating a practice."