And You Wonder Why Dental Associates are moving into Corporate Dentistry?

And You Wonder Why?

I was recently forwarded a published letter from a graduating dental student that speaks directly to solo practicing dentists. It seems that solo practice dentists are becoming less willing to invest in young dentists as associates. Maybe it’s because they don’t have enough business. Maybe it’s because it takes time and money to champion a new dentist. 

In any case, since young dentists cannot find positions in solo private practice, given their financial position, they are being forced to find jobs in corporate settings. After their five year stint, they are making good money, know the routine, are thriving in the culture, and can gain ownership by purchasing stock. The incentive to buy a solo practice has likely abated, thereby reducing the market value even further for solo practice. Now that’s what we call a “conundrum.”

Still wonder why managed dental practices are growing by leaps and bounds?

 

CORNERED INTO CORPORATE 

Editorial by Lauren Dupree

Northeast District Dental Association VOLUME 28 - ISSUE 1- SPRING 2014

 

Like most other people in dental school across the country, I have a Type-A personality. I began perusing the Internet and talking to companies like Patterson and Henry Schein around December of my senior year. After passing the dental boards and finishing all of my clinical requirements, I thought that the hardest part of becoming a dentist was over. Little did I know that the hardest thing would be finding a good job. For the past couple years, more and more dental students are signing contracts with corporate dental companies. One may wonder why. My road to finding a job answered the question for me. Corporate companies court you, take you out to dinner, are interested in talking to you, and just plainly give you the time of day. Most companies will offer you a contract over a month before graduation. For individuals who have spent their entire lives with a plan for the next step, knowing where you will be going after graduation is calming. This is the complete opposite of what I have found in the private practice world.

 

I am a very outgoing, driven individual. I have spent the past couple months going on extra external rotations, taking on harder cases, and shadowing to enhance my dental school experience. I am very involved in school and a leader; I believe I would be an asset to any private practice office. I am open to learning, I think on my feet, and take criticism well. My letters of recommendation and my CV can attest to this. I, like many people in my class, am looking for someone to mentor me. In my ideal world, I would be able to have 1-2 hours a week to sit with the doctor and discuss treatment planning of large or complex cases. There are so many mistakes that can be avoided by simply discussing cases with more experienced individuals. I am looking for someone who values continuing education and supports me by taking time to further my education. Lastly, I would like to be in a practice where if/when something goes wrong during a procedure (which I know it will) the doctor will be willing to help me get out of the predicament.

 

While searching for a job, I have sent easily over 200 emails to private practitioners about job opportunities all over the country. I began my job hunt by telling the practitioners about myself and attaching my CV and letters. Out of every thirty emails I sent I might have received one response. That response always stated that the doctor was not interested in a new graduate. I started getting frustrated and began begging doctors in my emails to just give me a chance to talk to them on the phone. I explained to them that I knew hiring a new graduate is not favorable, but to give me a chance to just show them who I am. From these emails, maybe one in twenty people responded. This time, the doctors would tell me to contact them in three to five years when I have more experience. These comments began to infuriate me. How am I supposed to get more experience when no one will give me a chance?

The few interviews I have attended always end in the same manner. I have gone to visit offices five entire days. This is not very easy to do considering we are given a limited amount of days we can be out of school. At the end of the day at almost every office I visit, the doctor asks me when I will be back to shadow again. At my last interview I got frustrated and asked the dentist when they would consider giving me a contract to look over. The dentist replied that I would receive one after I passed the NERB exam. For students at The University of Florida, the NERB is the weekend before graduation. This is a whole other issue that I will not even begin to discuss. In other words, I will take boards on May 11th and graduate on May 15th. My lease for my apartment ends May 31st and I have absolutely no idea where I will be in the fall. 

The reality of the matter is that most people graduating from the UF Dental School have around $250,000 in debt. After coming to the realization that in six months I will have to start paying back loans I broke down and contacted the corporate dental groups. I finally understand why every year more and more people are working for corporate offices. I am still trying to find a job in private practice. I may be the last person in my class to sign a contract, but I have faith that someone will give me a chance. I am writing this so that hopefully things will change for the classes behind me. There are so many amazing dentists who have so many skills and experiences to share. These practitioners have ethics and practice the ideal dentistry that we have learned in school. Without being given a chance to work for someone like this we will rapidly lose what we have been taught and transform into someone who does what is necessary to survive in the corporate world. My classmates and I are the future of dentistry and the only way we will not lose the profession to corporate dentistry is for private practice dentists to start hiring and mentoring new graduates.