After years of hard work, sleepless nights, studying every aspect of oral medicine, and analyzing more teeth than you ever thought possible, you’re ready to graduate from dental school. It’s an impressive accomplishment, but your work has just begun. The best way to prepare for graduation is to prepare for what’s after. With a solid plan in place, you will keep the momentum going while you make the most of your opportunities.
Unless you’re applying for postdoctoral programs or focusing on a specialty, such as orthodontics or pediatric dentistry, you’ll most likely be working in general dentistry after receiving your DDS or DMD. Should you join an existing practice or start your own? What about private versus corporate network?
Joining an existing practice provides the benefit of working with an established team at an established location. Rather than putting the hours into launching your own business, you can hit the ground running with immediate opportunities to apply your clinical skills. You don’t have to worry about finding new patients, and you’ll already have a mentor/partner in place. However, an existing practice will have already established itself, giving you less autonomy and, most likely, less pay compared to what you would earn on your own.
When you start your own practice, you call the shots. You are free to structure your practice around your own philosophy, equipment, and materials, and hours. You decide whom to hire and form a team that will nurture a loyal client base. However, the freedoms of owning your own practice come at a price. As a small business owner, you will be in charge of all the financial, human resources, and insurance issues that can potentially take a lot of time away from your first love: actual dentistry. You will most likely not have the benefit of a steady paycheck at first, although as your practice grows, you may make a much higher income as a practice owner.
When working for a corporate dentist network, you don’t have much say in the practice. You may feel like you’re compromising some of your patient priorities in the name of efficiency. You may feel discouraged from taking risks or trying new equipment or treatments. However, because the corporate team oversees the practice, you also don’t have to worry about hiring and firing, handling accounts, or tracking the other details of running a business. You can focus on dentistry, and only dentistry, with a consistent salary as well.
Graduation is certainly a time to celebrate. However, with your degree comes the onset of paying back your student loans. With an average school debt topping $250,000, a new dentist enters his or her career, understandably, with a certain amount of financial stress.
Some questions worth considering as you tackle the debt: Where will you live and work to maximize job security and reduce your cost of living? Will you refinance your loans, and if so, how will you compare products to make sure you’re getting the best overall deal? What about loan repayment benefits offered by employers? Advice from an experienced financial planner can help you navigate your student loans with a solid plan in place.
If starting your own practice, you’ll be taking on a number of financial responsibilities. Taxes, investment, insurance needs, and even retirement (it will be here before you know it!) require careful planning and expertise that you may not have received during dental school.
The Young Doctor Seminar offered by Collier & Associates provides professional advice and strategies from financial advisors with extensive experience specific to the needs of dentists and physicians. When you attend the seminar, you will come away with a better understanding of the following financial topics:
You will also find a wealth of financial information in the C&A Newsletter, a publication that equips doctors for the business side of their practices with expert advice from people in the field. You can sign up for the C&A Newsletter for free while you are still a dental student.
You’ve put your time into dental school. Now it’s time to get the most out of your career. Start it off right with expert advice from Collier & Associates.« Back to Blog