-Andrew Darke, MBA, National Practice Transitions Manager at Patterson Dental
There are loads of reasons you may have interest in going into private practice, and as Andrew Darke states above, this can be a wonderful direction to take your dental career! In order to find the ‘thriving private practice’ that’s the best fit for you, Darke recommends starting by asking 7 questions. The questions are aimed at helping you understand your own needs and goals, as well as those of the practice you’re interested in joining. Once you find an opportunity that aligns with both, you’ll be able to make a decision with confidence!
1: ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A JOB AND SOME EXPERIENCE, OR IS YOUR GOAL TO JOIN A PRACTICE WHERE YOU CAN EVENTUALLY BECOME AN OWNER?
In this early stage of the process it can be helpful to reach out to associates that you know and trust in your personal and professional networks, who are already practicing. Their perspectives and experiences will all differ, and it’s valuable to gather as much information as possible.
2: WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU: LOCATION, OR THE QUALITY OF THE OPPORTUNITY?
If you identify a specific area you want to be in, contact dentists directly to see if any are in a position to bring on another doctor. Also reach out to your nearest Patterson branch, as local territory reps will have great knowledge on the market and the reputation of various dentists within it. Online tools like Patterson Connect are also helpful, which allow you to view dentists actively looking for an associate!
3: IS YOUR FIRST PRIORITY A HIGH SALARY, OR THE TYPE OF DENTISTRY YOU WILL BE ABLE TO PRACTICE AND THE ENVIRONMENT YOU WILL WORK IN?
Salaries offered by private practices tend to vary more greatly than those offered by corporate opportunities, which generally offer straight base salaries. And as with any job, each practice will differ in its culture and values.
Once you have identified a practice you are interested in joining, it’s important to explore the opportunity further by asking them the right questions! Here are some to consider:
4: WHY ARE YOU INTERESTED IN BRINGING SOMEONE ON?
This may help you uncover whether they’re open to a transition down the road, and what that time-frame would look like.
5: WHAT TYPE OF GROWTH POTENTIAL DO YOU SEE FOR YOUR PRACTICE?
Is the dentist interested in simply maintaining his or her current clientele, or might they be planning to add an operatory or incorporate new technology into the practice to attract new patients? Does this practice management approach align with your preferences?
6: DO YOU NEED SOMEONE PART-TIME, OR FULL-TIME?
Knowing this will help you decide how many days each week to work initially. If the right long term opportunity can only support you 2-3 days per week, you would need to work somewhere else 1-2 days per week in order to meet your short-term financial needs. Try not to be shortsighted at this stage, by making a decision based only on immediate financial return.
7: WHAT TYPE OF EARNING POTENTIAL DO YOU SEE FOR ME?
Again, the pay structure of private practices often differs from that of corporate opportunities. It is critical that you understand not just the short-term compensation, but also the long-term opportunity for both earning potential and ownership in the practice.
Exploring these 7 questions thoroughly and honestly will help you greatly increase your chances of success before you even see your first patient! A more in-depth discussion of these (and 7 more!) questions may be found HERE, in the D5 Educational Resources section of Patterson Dental’s website. More about D5:
D5 is a new curriculum for current and aspiring dentists who want to learn more about what it takes to start and manage a private practice. D5 provides guidance and resources on private practice management through a comprehensive curriculum created with the help of dental professionals and educators. You can subscribe to the curriculum for free, by clicking the “Sign Up Now” button on THIS PAGE.
Feel free to leave any questions in the comments section below, and we’ll be happy to connect you with the proper resources!
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