Dentist… or Dental Entrepreneur?

Dentistry is unusual among healthcare professions because the default option for a new dentist remains solo practice. Unlike MDs, who typically work within a hospital system or a large group practice, dentists often hang out their own shingle after graduating.

This has long made dentistry a reliable path for talented young practitioners who want to serve patients while building a business that can be sold to fund their retirement later on. But it also means that many dentists are constantly juggling two roles: doctor and entrepreneur.

And now, more than ever, practice owners need to bone up on the latter set of skills. Between shrinking insurance payouts and increased competition from efficiency-minded DSOs, the business of dental is becoming more of a, well, business — one that demands more of the growth and innovation that we see in other economic sectors.

In other words, the days when you could keep your practice afloat without investing significant energy in business development are probably slipping away. In more competitive markets, dentists who embrace the entrepreneurial side of things will be at a distinct advantage when it comes to long-term stability — as well as in related areas like team culture and recruiting.

So if you’re a new-ish dentist, you should consider that your career might follow a different path than the one blazed by the older generation. And you should ask yourself: Does the business side of dental appeal to me?

If yes, then private practice might be an outstanding choice. But if you’d rather focus strictly on clinical work, you might want to consider that signing up with a DSO or dental group could be a career in and of itself — rather than simply a stepping stone.

There’s no right or wrong way to go here. But we do think that more dentists than ever will need to think this through and decide for themselves.

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