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Working With Dad: Ask Noah

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Q: I graduated dental school two years ago and my father invited me into his well-established private practice. Still, after rent, insurance costs, desk staff, etc. are paid, we're hardly making the profit we should.

After more than 30 years in practice, Dad's admin systems need major updating, but he's frustratingly stubborn. How can I go about making changes? Thanks.

A:Firstly, understand that it's difficult for any father to accept advice from his son. "New blood" can feel threatening to any established professional.

Your father has been in practice for decades prior to your joining, and you want to respect his business acumen as well as implement modern change.

I advise you to take him out for dinner after work. "Break bread" on neutral ground and share your thoughts. Outline the conversation once you sit down, and perhaps frame it as a "check-in" of your experience thus far. Your goal is not to gain free reign over this practice; it's to participate in making technological and clinical updates that improve profitability.

In order to gain ground with your strong and successful father, begin by articulating an unwavering pride/belief in the practice he built, and a very real desire to continue his tradition of excellence.

Now that you've got his attention and he's invested in your opinions, then take your turn to update dad on your knowledge of the latest technological developments.

Do not dictate changes. Explain the impact of each proposed update, and give dad room to question your suggestions. Frame these technologically savvy updates as business assets, and ask his opinion so he feels he's spearheading the decision.

Listen, your dad is like everyone else; he wants to make money! However, the transition from independent proprietor to collaborator is difficult.

Remember he's your dad and will always need to feel like the Papa Bear. Regardless, he's given you a place at his table, and a place to practice dentistry, a clear sign he respects the professional you've become.

Please send all questions and comments to ASK NOAH at

Have a profitable and peaceful week,

Noah Kass is a psychotherapist specializing in addiction, relationship issues and work stressors. He has been Clinical Director at The Dunes: East Hampton and Realization Center in Union Square. Mr. Kass was a frequent guest on MSNBC's "The Dylan Ratigan Show," featured in a segment called ¿Kass' Couch¿ and regularly blogs for The Huffington Post.

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