Candace McPharlin Williams - Staff Writer
11:07 AM EST, January 24, 2013
PETOSKEY -- A new name, Dentistry by the Bay, signals change at a dental office near Petoskey.
Dr. Johnna Driscoll is now sole proprietor of the practice which she and Dr. Julie Martinson shared for 21 years. The friendship continues.
"I started working for her as an associate and then bought in as a partner," said Driscoll.
Shifting to sole owner was gradual. Martinson stopped practicing a little more than a year ago, and officially retired in December 2012.
"We were doing three-quarters time," Driscoll said of the partners' earlier work schedules.
But now, with the additional roster of Martinson's patients, it's a full time job.
Driscoll offered a glowing perspective of her newly retired partner, noting Martinson's generosity and sense of humor.
"We practiced pretty similar," Driscoll said. "She trained me. Patients did have to transition from her to me. She was a very good mentor, very interested in the quality of care (and inspirational)."
The business sign soon will reflect the change inside. But some things won't change.
"Keeping the same staff has made the transition easier," said Driscoll, whose office is keeping all nine employees from its previous configuration.
Driscoll added, "My staff is really committed. My staff is always covering all the phone calls."
Even when Driscoll is unavailable and "another dentist is on call, my staff answers and screens. They really stepped up to the plate."
One reason for that is, "I'm doing a mini-residency at Tufts University in Boston, in sleep medicine," Driscoll said. "It's to better serve my patients."
When left undiagnosed, sleep apnea may lead to serious illness.
"We can screen for that because we look for obstructions," Driscoll noted.
The residency and change to sole owner have made the dentist busier.
"You feel on all the time," she said.
At this time, Driscoll doesn't plan to add a new partner. However, she doesn't rule it out for the future. She praises her staff's loyalty, noting many have been with the practice for a long time, one for 20 and another for 15 years.
Driscoll's husband, a fellow dentist practicing in St. Ignace, has helped to fill the gap too. He's a springboard for ideas and problem solving.
Reflecting, Driscoll ticked off a list of changes --digital x-rays and charts, cameras, and use of lasers -- since she entered the field. The cosmetics and esthetics of tooth care have changed, the dentist noted, citing today's tooth implants as so different from what was done 21 years ago. Consulting with other doctors via the Internet is now nearly instantaneous.
"I decided to be a dentist when I was 10," and never wavered, Driscoll said.
Early in life, a root canal procedure so impressed her that she wanted to pursue a dental career.
"They (the dentist and endodontist) seemed to be happy people," Driscoll said. "It seemed like a good profession." With her mother pursuing a medical career, going back to school when Driscoll was a teenager, she was inspired and spurred. Her sister went into a medical career also. Before them her family had no one in medicine.
Dentistry by the Bay serves about 2,500 patients at 2050 M-119, near Petoskey. The practice is growing, Driscoll notes.
Consultation can be sought by calling (231) 347-7471. The practice has a website at www.nmdentists.com.
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