New dentist plans to make his home in Hillsboro

Graduating dental-school students are in a unique position because job opportunities are in their favor.

“They tell me there are 6,000 retiring dentists every year, and only 4,000 are graduating,” said new Hillsboro dentist Joel Smith with the Tippin Dental Group.

“For the next 10 years or more, there’s going to be a huge dental shortage in the United States, especially in the rural areas. So there are opportunities everywhere.”

But after looking at practice opportunities as close as Salina and McPherson, Smith and wife Parrish chose to settle in Hillsboro with their five -month-old daughter, Teagen.

In June, they moved into a remodeled two-bedroom apartment located along north Main Street above Quick Flick/Radio Shack, only six doors from the dental office.

While waiting for licensure and certification paperwork, Smith began seeing patients in late August as an intern. His contract date as a practicing dentist with associate status at the Tippin office was Sept. 1.

The week before he officially started, an efficient staff put out his new business cards, the sign in front of the Tippin office listed his name, and patients were being scheduled into September.

Born in Colorado Springs, Colo., Smith moved with his family to a home 20 miles east of Newton when he was 4. Twenty-two years later, he towers at 6 foot 5 inches and, not surprisingly, enjoys playing basketball.

Smith attended Berean Academy in Elbing, played basketball against the formidable Hillsboro High School Trojans and graduated in 1995.

He played collegiate basketball at Southwestern College in Winfield, where he graduated in 1999 with a degree in bio-chemistry.

“In college, I had a pretty good idea I would be in something in the medical field,” Smith said. “And after shadowing different dentists, I really felt that was where I would end up.”

He spent the next four years in Lincoln, Neb., at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry and graduated from there in May.

“My title is associate dentist, because I’m actually working for Dr. Tippin for a year,” Smith said. “At that time, we’ll re-evaluate our contract and see if I want to buy into the practice and become a partner.”

The practice includes dentists R.J. Tippin and Wayne Hott, and a staff of hygienist, technicians and office personnel. Hott lives in Wichita, and Tippin lives in Elbing, which is east of Newton.

Several factors influenced Smith’s decision to join the Hillsboro group. Knowing Tippin as he was growing up provided a comfortable familiarity. His family still lives in Newton and with a new baby, he wanted to be close to them. Additionally, he was impressed with the progressiveness of the local office.

“Dr. Tippin really has a lot of technology he’s using, especially for a rural community-the technology he has and the value he places on that,” Smith said.

“I didn’t find any practices like this around the area and even in bigger cities like Wichita. I think he’s a great businessman, and I wanted to learn from someone I look up to. I think he’s a great guy.”

With three dentists working at full capacity, the office is assigning patients on a rotating schedule, Monday through Friday.

“So I’ll have some unique hours,” Smith said. In the beginning, he is anticipating seeing patients on Wednesdays, Fridays and a couple of evenings a week.

“It’s going to be a convenience for patients to be able to come in after work,” Smith said. “I think on Thursdays, I’ll be working until 8 p.m.”

With the addition of Smith on the roster, the Tippin Dental Group horizons are broadening into establishing a satellite office in Newton. The office is scheduled for completion in late fall or early winter.

All three dentists will be working at both offices through the week. It will allow Hott and Tippin to work certain days a little closer to home.

“But I’ll spend most of my time at the Hillsboro office with some times at the new office, also,” Smith said.

The differences between working in a practice versus studying in dental school were large for the new man on the block.

“Dental school is like an educational institution,” Smith said.

“You just kind of do it to get where you want to go. Now that I’m actually practicing, I love it. It’s so much fun.”

In addition to getting to know patients and looking forward to continuing education, Smith enjoys several hobbies.

He and Parrish joined the local work-out center to stay in shape, and Smith described himself as a fair-weather jogger, who tries to runs about three miles, three times a week.

“I enjoy hunting,” Smith said of rifle hunting for deer, turkey, pheasant and quail in season.

“And I really enjoy cooking. I think it’s a good way to express your creativity and try something new. I love to eat, and I love to make bread. I have a good focaccia bread recipe that you can dip in oil.”

But his most unique hobby is collecting current root-beer bottles from his travels around the country.

“I love root beer, and that’s the hobby I’ve started in the last couple of years,” Smith said.

“I figure if I collect something, it should be something not everybody collects. Right now, I have over 50 different kinds of bottles from all over the United States, and there’s at least another 50 out there.”

Growing up in a rural area created a comfort zone when he moved to Hillsboro with its rural setting, Smith said.

“It’s a good place to raise a family. Hillsboro always seemed to be a very vibrant community with a lot of community pride and a lot of life to it.”

Smith extended an invitation to people in the community and surrounding areas to stop in at the office and introduce themselves.

“I’m a pretty laid-back, happy-go-lucky guy-fun to be around,” Smith said with an easy grin.

“So come meet the new dentist in town.”

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