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Forum Category: Practice Administration

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The Attraction of DSOs to Graduating Dentists

Many new dentists are opting to join DSO practices. Why?

Starting Salary – With a guaranteed steady patient flow and competitive salary packages, it’s not surprising that this is a major factor in the decision for new graduates. Many affiliated dentists earn more than their counterparts in private practice, due to higher profit margins and higher patient numbers.

Ease Of Employment – New graduates can face difficulties finding immediate employment for a number of reasons. Dentists are retiring later now than in previous years, so the number of practices for sale/partnership has reduced. Recovery from the recession has also been slow, so fewer private practices are hiring associates or graduates with little experience. It can be difficult for a new graduate to get their foot in the door. DSOs are willing to employ new graduates and are able to support them to a degree that private practice usually can’t. So for the lack of other opportunities, DSOs may be the only place for a graduate to find work.

Student Debt - The average graduating dentist has $200,000 to $250,000 in education debt, creating a barrier to practice ownership. Accessing finance is becoming more difficult, so the first few years for a solo practicing dentist can be challenging. 

Work Life Balance – Modern employment trends are evolving, and lifestyle preferences such as regular hours, mobility and flexible work hours are now becoming increasingly important. A successful business isn’t all about money, and increasingly, married professionals and dual profession families require the lifestyle that practice ownership doesn’t always allow.

Opportunities To Acquire Experience – Increasing their confidence and speed while building patient numbers is a big attraction for new dentists. DSOs are able to offer clinical supervision, ongoing education, in-house training and other benefits that usually aren’t available in a private practice. The opportunities for interaction with other dentists and peers is also an attractive feature of a larger practice structure.

Exposure To Newer Technologies - Technology is improving patient care, and many patients are now demanding it.  DSOs have the financial ability to invest in new technology including CAD/CAM, digital radiography, intraoral cameras, implants, online scheduling and paperless offices with which smaller practices cannot keep up. Exposure to these areas of dentistry can provide new opportunities to build state-of-the-art practices.

Equity Shares/Becoming An Associate – DSOs are structured differently in different states and have different levels of ownership and control over the practice.  But the ability to immediately start paying down loans, accumulate capital and start a practice without making a significant personal contribution are attractive features of their corporate structure.

Cost Of Initial Investment - Setting up or buying into a practice is expensive, and supporting $250,000 of student loans plus $300,000 to $500,000 in debt for a new practice is very daunting. Doing so can result in pressure to increase turnover, so rather than jump straight into private practice, graduates can enjoy a good salary and let the DSO take care of the responsibilities for the costs and day-to-day operation of the office.

What do you think? Are DSOs right for you? What plans are you considering for post-graduation?

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The Attraction of DSOs to Graduating Dentists

11:20 AM | Feb 21,2018
I am so thankful that this information has been shared on the NextDDS! As a D3 student I am in the process of investigating my options post-graduation. Between DSOs, private practice, AEGD/residency programs, etc it can really be an overwhelming process to sift through all of the pros and cons. Its nice to see this information in an easy and compartmentalized fashion. When I graduate I know there will be SO MUCH more I need to learn and experience I will need to gain. Participating in a DSO would provide me with some wonderful mentors that could help me improve my clinical skills before possibly venturing out on my own. A DSO could also help me focus more on my dentistry without having the added stress of the business aspect of dentistry. Coming out of dental school is going to be a very stressful, yet exciting, experience for me. Without the added stress of business ventures, computer work, and just running an office I would be able to focus on being the best dentist I can be, and really build my clinical skills up.

The Attraction of DSOs to Graduating Dentists

10:01 AM | Mar 02,2017
I'm really happy that The NEXT DDS created a forum on this topic. Many students have a poor connotation when they hear about DSO's, having new dentists work long hours and having these dentists perform "sub-par" dental work just to get more patients in the door. However, these old notions of DSO's have changed with this generation and DSO's have more to offer to recent dental graduates. DSO's provide much support for new dentists, providing an office and mentor dentists to help with challenging cases. These offices also often have newer technologies to be competitive with private practice offices. I believe that working for a DSO is a great stepping stool to working in private practice to help recent graduates with speed and business skills.

The Attraction of DSOs to Graduating Dentists

08:54 PM | Jun 21,2016
The perks of joining a DSO are undeniable. It is also undeniable that DSOs run into more than their fair share of trouble in the media for one reason or another. To be fair, most small practices and solo practitioners are not vilified in the media because it won't help with ratings like a national news story would. There are plenty of solo dentists out there that are doing a terrible job, taking advantage of the system, and their patients so they gain financially at the expense of the patient's well-being. I don't hear it brought up often enough that corporate dentistry could mean more regulations that may actually lead to better practice overall. The fact of the matter is that coming out of school with looming debt, lack of clinical experience, and a thirst to prove yourself can often lead you straight to a DSO. I think it is really down to the dentist to do what is right for their patients. Even if you are pressured to do more of a certain procedure or work faster it is up to you to care for the patient. Nobody can really tell you what to do. You are the boss! I am far from graduating, but DSOs at least represent a safe and guaranteed starting point for me when the time comes.

The Attraction of DSOs to Graduating Dentists

08:41 PM | Apr 11,2016
I completely agree with all of the students commenting before me. DSOs are a huge source of jobs for those of us graduating and seeking employment in the dental field immediately. If not because of the crushing debt load, the saturation of the market and the lack of dentists hiring new graduates will steer you in that direction. Fortunately, DSOs are recognizing that there is this need for new dentists to get jobs and they are catering to our needs. Some DSOs, such as Aspen Dental, have mentor programs for students where they actually will pair you up with a practicing dentist more experienced than you and help you with the transition. Many DSOs get bad reputations and are either completely ignored or spoken about in a negative light in dental school. If it weren't for organizations such as ASDA, I don't think I would be educated on the truths of DSOs. Hopefully schools will catch up with the times and start to teach their students about DSOs as a viable option post-graduation. For me, I will be attending an orthodontics residency next year. But if I weren't, I would definitely be going the DSO route. The world of dentistry is more different than ever and the DSOs are changing to keep up with the times.

The Attraction of DSOs to Graduating Dentists

09:09 PM | Mar 19,2016
As an upcoming 4th year dental student this will definitely be an option I will be considering. Having been able to speak with representatives from some of these DSO companies have really sparked my interest in joining one upon graduation. They have some amazing benefits to offer and also take away a lot of stress in comparison to running a private practice alone. Granted there are always pros and cons to each, and I would encourage anyone thinking of joining a DSO to do their own research. I think these types of environments may work for some and may not be the best for others. For me personally, as a woman hoping to have a family someday, this type of setting seems to provide a good work life balance. Ultimately, every DSO is a little different and it is important to take the time and look into each one.

The Attraction of DSOs to Graduating Dentists

10:18 AM | Mar 01,2016
As an upcoming graduate, a DSO seems like a great starting off point for myself and many of my classmates. First of all, the opportunity to work in a group of other, more experienced providers is a major benefit. When we graduate, we go from having endless support and "double checks" to being on our own with no second opinions or "back ups." Having a support system in place if needed is a nice transition piece. Additionally, the financial aspect would be comfortable and is most do-able. In dental school we learn how to "drill and fill" but not necessarily the business aspect of dentistry. Coming out of school, focusing on being the best dentist we can be is essential. Having to put effort and attention into hiring, firing, payroll and equipment maintenance would detract from the dentistry focus. Working at a DSO would take away the extraneous stressors and allow us to be first and foremost dentists. That being said, DSO's are not for everyone. I can imagine that many private practices offer the same benefits as these DSOs. However, DSOs are now becoming more and more available to new graduates and opportunities seem to abound everywhere. For this reason, they are attractive to new graduates who need an opportunity in a location where a private practice may not necessarily be hiring.

The Attraction of DSOs to Graduating Dentists

10:23 PM | Feb 21,2016
As a fourth year dental student, DSO has been a trending topic among my colleagues and I. DSOs are a very attractive option for the reasons outlined above. Personally, student debt is a huge issue for myself and I am looking for opportunities to help me repay my loan debt quickly before transitioning to associateship or ownership. In addition, I value a healthy work life balance. I'm excited to become a dentist, but maintain a life outside of my career. DSOs really give new graduates the ability to solely focus on dentistry, so they gain an incredible amount of experience. I think all dental students should consider a DSO because they really have some great benefits!

The Attraction of DSOs to Graduating Dentists

10:12 AM | Feb 11,2016
All the reasons that were stated above are definitely reasons why many students myself included are considering working for a DSOs. I have met many dentist who are happy working for DSOs and I've heard the horror stories. I believe it depends on your location, every DSO is not made equal but that is the truth with any practice. Going into a private practice as an associate does not guarantee happiness or autonomy in how you practice because the owner of the practice is still in charge. I think DSO's are a great option for some and shouldn't be ruled out as an option.

The Attraction of DSOs to Graduating Dentists

02:08 PM | Jan 08,2016
I actually agree with these and they're the reason that I'm considering DSOs after graduation. I don't think they are as bad as people make them out to be if the dentist stays ethical. Plenty of time I hear that you shouldn't work for a DSO because they will have you do unethical things. I don't think anybody can make you do anything. It's all up to you. If you do not feel comfortable with a certain proposed treatment plan, then don't do it. If the student can understand that aspect that they are not forced to do anything, then there are many reasons why working in a DSO right out of school makes sense.