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While dentist jobs are getting harder to come by, does it make sense to branch out into your own practice?
Dentist jobs are more sought after than ever, and nowadays it’s a buyer’s market. The Australian Dental Association (ADA) has said in recent years that there is an oversupply of dentists in Australia. But does that mean you should find a job and cling to it, or branch out on your own in a competitive field?
The answer, of course, depends on your personal circumstances. Being an employee relieves you of the responsibility of running a business. But it can also be frustrating and limiting.
Buying or starting a practice, on the other hand, can be very rewarding—personally, professionally and financially. But it requires more than just good dental skills.
The benefits of working for someone else
Most of the benefits people expect from being an employee also apply to owning a practice. That includes the ability to focus mainly on the work you love; being able to make your own hours; and not having to worry about navigating business, administrative, accounting and regulatory requirements.
The reality is, those are all concerns of any professional. Whether you work for someone else or hire advisers to help you, the reality of your work is you don’t just walk out the door at 5pm and forget about it.
What you do get as an employee is the opportunity to learn from an experienced mentor. What you gain in wisdom from a mentor can not only help you grow professionally, but also help set you up for the time that you do want to move on to your own practice.
The benefits of owning your own practice
There will come a time when you will reach the limit of what your mentor can teach you. If you’re lucky, that time will coincide with your mentor wanting to step down, or perhaps sell a share in the practice.
Accepted wisdom within the profession is that if you’ve worked in the practice already, you’re on a better footing when it comes to buying. You’ve got an established patient base: you know the patients and they know you, making the transition to ownership a lot easier.
The benefits of ownership include being the master of your own destiny—while you have responsibility for the success of the practice, you also benefit from that success more than anyone else. As the owner of the practice, you are also freer to pursue those areas of practice you are most passionate about, while hiring others to do more mundane work.
The secrets to success in your dental career
The way to turn your dental job into a dental career is to plan with a clear head, get good advice, and be realistic about what you’re doing. If you are going to start your own practice, it’s critical that you develop a comprehensive, well-researched business plan or model.
You can’t just assume that setting up a practice is going to result in it being successful. The market is a lot tougher now than it used to be and it’s sometimes a very fine line between being successful and being bankrupt. You’re there to make money, but it’s going to cost you to be in practice and to be busy, so you need to be able to back that up.
The best thing you can do is talk to your colleagues and seek expert advice. If you establish a good support network, that’s the best way forward.