You just graduated dental school. You’re proud of your immense accomplishment and all of the hard work it took to get yourself here. And you should be. You went into this profession wanting to help people, while also being interested in personal growth and professional development. You’ve spent a good amount of your life envisioning your very own office, believing that you are a true entrepreneur. But then there’s another, nagging feeling that you can’t put your finger on…terror.
It’s rational to be afraid at this fateful fork in the road. You’re saddled with student debt, you’re facing major life decisions that could have enormous consequences, and you’re full of questions. Do you get a job in corporate dentistry? Do you start a dental practice? Do you buy a dental practice? Do you give it all up and become a bartender on Maui? There are advantages and disadvantages to each option. You’re the only one who can make the decision, but we’re here to help. Let’s address some of those questions. (We’ll leave the research about Maui up to you.)
There’s a trend right now toward corporate healthcare. DSOs are showing rapid growth, CVS offers urgent care, and dental clinics are popping up in Walmart. Yes, you read that correctly. Walmart has dental clinics offering exams, cleanings, crowns, whitening and fillings—they even have dental plans.
Corporate dentistry is extremely profitable, and, just like Uncle Sam, they want you. They offer great perks. They will help pay off your student debt. Some provide professional corporate management, in-house training “universities,” and other benefits for participating dentists. Joining a DSO may seem like an easier option than starting your own practice. You don’t have the headache of making countless decisions. You can make a profit immediately and you have some degree of stability. And it can be the right option for some.
But DSOs take a lot of your profits. Instead of reaping all the benefits of your hard work, you’re giving some of it to a corporation. And at the end of your career, when you’re ready to retire, you have no asset to sell.
Underneath all of these financial and logistical issues lies a deeper, and perhaps more important, question. Why did you want to be a dentist in the first place? Did you really put in all of that hard work at dental school so you could end up working at Walmart? Or did you want to be a dentist because you believe in caring for patients? And what about your professional fulfillment and growth?
If your first love is caring for your patients, it may make sense to start your own practice. This is the only way you have complete control over patient care. And, ultimately, it may be a better financial decision as well.
It’s scary taking out a massive loan to pay for your startup. But it’s really not too difficult. Banks are happy to give startup loans to dentists because the return on their investment is almost guaranteed. The truth is that only 0.3% of dental startup loans are not payed back in full. That’s a tiny number, and it shows phenomenal odds in your favor should you choose to start your own practice.
Starting your own practice comes with a lot of questions: How much does it cost to start a dental practice? Should I buy a dental practice, or should I start my own? How do I start a dental practice? Where do I even begin? These questions can be overwhelming, but there are so many resources available now to help you. A good place to start is Dental B-School. We’re here to help answer these questions and more.
Private practice may seem scarier than corporate dentistry, but there are also rewards. You can care for your own patients the way you want to, become part of your community in a meaningful way, and invest in a valuable asset that will give back to you financially. It may be more work at the outset, but there are benefits. Either way you go, we know you’ll have a great career. If you decide to start your own practice, know that Dental B-School has the resources you’ll need.