So you’re ready to spread your wings and find the perfect place to begin or enhance your dental career, but you just don’t know where to start? You’re in luck, as we’ve gathered some thoughts for you to consider and we are optimistic that you’ll be pointed in a better direction than when you began.
It’s important to find a practice that shares your vision and goals, and choose a path that leads you to a successful, mutually satisfying relationship long after initial meetings. You should ask yourself questions to envision what your ideal transition looks like. Consider all your options – plus your long-term goals and plans – before ruling anything out. The ADA’s eBook Joining and Leaving a Dental Practice provides a great resource and worksheets in Chapter 3 “Entering Practice — Make the First Choice the Right Choice” to help with the thought process.
Lastly, don’t forget to identify the aspects of dentistry that made you the happiest in previous jobs and internships. What went well and what can be improved? Perhaps now is your chance to seek opportunities that allow you to build on the good while developing new skills.
What type of practice suits you?
Consider the type of practice that can help you meet your long-term goals.
A solo practice is just that – one in which the dentist practices alone. A solo practice may seek an associate as it expands hours or as the owner dentist approaches retirement and wants to find someone to eventually take over.
In a solo practice, the owner is responsible for every last detail, whether they do it themselves or delegate. That includes everything from patient referrals, call time and overseeing financials to less glamorous tasks like building maintenance and scheduling. If you like being in control and knowing how every aspect of the business fits together, a solo practice can be a great fit. If you are extroverted, you may miss having lots of coworkers, though.
Solo practice can offer more income potential, as you are not sharing profits with anyone else and you can control your overhead costs.
Small group practice
A small group practice brings together just a few dentists, usually two to three. The dentists share overhead expenses but may be responsible for their own referrals, lab fees and supplies. A small group practice can offer more flexibility to cover calls and vacations but depending on the structure, the patients may or may not be shared.
Large group practice
A large group practice may have up to 20 or more dentists, often across multiple locations. They can vary greatly in scope of services, targeted patients or approach. Large group practices may have a single brand name that spans all locations or operate each location under a separate name. Some may franchise locations to individual owners, while others are centrally owned. Many operations are centralized (particularly purchasing, marketing, accounting and other functions).
A large group practice can give you a steady supply of patients so you can focus on dentistry without thinking about the business itself. Some people see that as a big benefit, while others want to be involved in the business side of the profession. With several other dentists sharing an office, you have more opportunities to consult with others, share ideas – or even just socialize a bit. Compensation is sometimes less in a large group practice vs. a small group or solo practice, but there are also advantages to this practice model.
Ways to expand your network & start your journey
- Attend your Local Dental Society meetings and events.
- Join the WDA – Marquette University School of Dentistry – Pierre Fauchard Academy Mentor Program.
- Keep an eye on the WDA’s CareerForward job board to stay apprised of opportunities.
- Plan to attend the state’s largest dental meeting each year to help get your name out there, all the while earning CE credits!
- As you are looking to take the next step in your career, explore ADA Practice Transitions to find the right practice for you.