For various reasons, it’s been deeply ingrained in many of us to think we must all aspire to, “be our own boss.”
Who hasn’t fantasized about calling the shots and captaining the ship? We idolize entrepreneurs and worship the hustle. The dental profession is no exception.
However, there's a world of difference between the fantasy and reality of owning your own dental practice.
The truth is that many dentists, young and old, are perfectly happy working Monday to Friday, 8 to 5 as part of a DSO ‒ and many who thought they wanted to own a dental practice later find that it’s not what they bargained for.
Before deciding to own your own practice, you must ask, “is ownership for me?” And if the answer is “no,” know that there is nothing stopping you from having a fulfilling, successful career.
Here are a few of the top reasons why ownership isn’t for everyone in this profession.
1. Managing Staff is Incredibly Challenging
As a practice owner, you can expect to have your attention wrenched away from the dental chair multiple times a day.
Because managing your staff can take as much, if not more, time and energy.
Chances are, you entered this field to help people improve their health, not to direct employees. You aren't a formally-trained manager, president, or CEO ‒ yet you’ll be expected to take on all of these roles and the unique skills they require.
Working as an associate at someone else's practice, on the other hand, is far less complicated. You can spend your days doing what you love ‒ helping people ‒ and shine in your role without the stress of calling all the shots.
To put it simply, when you don’t own your practice, you can focus less on your coworkers and more on your patients!
2. Owning a Practice Can Make You Feel Stuck
Once you start or purchase a dental practice, you're very much tethered to that business for the foreseeable future.
Should you realize it’s not for you, pivoting comes with an array of headaches and hassles. You’re now stuck trying to sell, close, or move your practice. This can be exceptionally costly and drag out for a long time.
When you’re a dental associate working at someone else’s practice, you have far more freedom.
So what if the role or the workplace culture doesn’t vibe with your personality? You’re an associate, untethered by ownership. You can search for a role at a practice that better suits your values.
What’s more, you have the freedom to move onto higher-paying work at another practice when you're a dental associate. As an owner, your earnings are based on what you can afford to pay yourself ‒ which can be a curse as well as a blessing.
3. As an Owner, Practice Management Gets in the Way
Your patients' well-being is always your top priority, whether you're a practice owner or associate.
But that doesn’t always mean enjoy dealing with people beyond the scope of giving them the best possible treatment.
When you own a practice, you’re not only helping patients improve their health. You might also be hounding them for payments, handling their complaints, and facing the other ugly facets of customer service.
Not to mention all the rest of your practice management responsibilities, which include equipment management, finances, marketing, and advertising.
Don’t get us wrong. Some people thrive in the role of a practice manager, even when it’s outside their “comfort zone.”
Regardless, that’s a lot of responsibility piled onto your already-vital role as a dentist.
Is Being an Owner for You?
After reading this article, you might still feel like you’re up to the challenge of ownership. And more power to you if that’s the case! You’re probably the perfect fit for this role and will thrive accordingly.
All the same, there's absolutely nothing wrong with deciding that you'd make a better associate than an owner. Choosing this path will likely benefit you over the long haul because you decided on what was correct for your personality and skill set.
As Howard Farran, DDS, MBA writes in a recent DentalTown editorial, “If you come out of dental school and you just want to join a DSO or a group practice and live happily, go for it!”