Dentists are Entrepreneurs

The field of dental medicine is a hotspot for budding entrepreneurs. Dentistry has an abundance of opportunities for entrepreneurship and, in fact, many dentists and dental students find that having an entrepreneurial mindset allows them to approach their professions in new and exciting ways.

Kari Cunningham (DEN ‘10, ‘12) 

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Kari Cunningham is a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Cunningham opened her own practice, Panther Pediatric Dentistry, as part of her commitment to addressing the needs of underserved populations in Northeast Ohio. 

“I wanted to make a difference and now I get to do so on my own terms. I get to hire the staff that I want. I get involved in community activities that I want,” Cunningham stated. “ By putting myself in the position of opening my own practice, I truly am able to make a positive change in and impact the community around me.”

Cunningham’s inspiration came after working at various community health centers where she strove to find a better way to provide comprehensive pediatric dental care to the families in her hometown of Euclid. 

“I realized pediatrics was my calling,” Cunningham stated. “I wanted to be a part of the workforce to help create a generation of children who receive good quality, compassionate, preventive care.” 

Being an entrepreneur pushed Cunningham to determine what would set her practice apart. As a result, she positioned Panther Pediatric Dentistry as a unique space where children not only receive great dental care, but also grow and learn. While she and her staff are finding creative ways to teach children and their families how to achieve optimal oral and overall health, she also encourages her young patients to dream big and strive for success.

Justin McCray (DEN ‘21) 

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As a current pediatric dental resident at CWRU, McCray is also excited by the endless possibilities that the intersection of entrepreneurship and dentistry provides. At the School of Dental Medicine, he is surrounded by people who have excelled in different avenues of dentistry at the highest levels, but he's most inspired by those that took the entrepreneurial route. 

“The beauty of entrepreneurship in dentistry is that it allows the owner to think bigger than just the day-to-day tasks of ‘drilling and filling,’” McCray explained. “This level of care requires maximizing relationships and resources to become trailblazers in the community.”

After observing several Case Western dental alumni, McCray is choosing a similar path because of the value he sees in the intersection of dentistry and entrepreneurship.

“Entrepreneurship in dentistry is very valuable because it allows the doctor to create a unique practice model that, if used correctly, provides opportunities to become active in the community and impact others lives even while we aren’t physically treating patients,” said McCray.

Pursuing a career as a dental entrepreneur electrifies McCray. As a result, he is committed to maximizing the resources and opportunities around him in order to become a staple in the community. 

Looking Forward

Both Cunningham and McCray have found value in being an entrepreneur within the field of dentistry. For each, their entrepreneurial mindset opens a world of opportunity to provide a special kind of patient care that leaves a lasting impression.

To stay up to date with the Veale Institute and hear about upcoming events, workshops and opportunities in entrepreneurship sign up for our newsletter. If you are a dental student who is interested in learning more about entrepreneurship, please contact Doug DeGirolamo