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THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador Blogs

First Job: Corporate Dentistry or Private Practice?

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As I’m nearing the end of the final semester of my dental education, I’m faced with the daunting prospect of being released into the real world and needing to pay back six figures of debt. Since I’m not going into a residency or specialty program I’m faced with having to find a job. This task comes with a lot of questions and considerations. Should I stay in California near my family or pick a state that is less saturated? Should I work for corporate dentistry or private practice? 

Many classmates have been interviewing for corporations in states all across the nation including New Mexico, Texas, Alaska, and Oklahoma. Many have chosen to go with corporate dentistry because in general, many have found that they are able to offer higher salaries and full time employment compared to private practices. Most available positions are also outside of California and often in non-metropolitan cities where the need is greater and the area is less saturated with dentists.       

Several corporations have come to visit our school and tell us about their available opportunities. From their presentations it seems there are several pros and cons to working for corporate dentistry. Some positives include significant steady income, steady inflow of patients, opportunity to gain plenty of experience, benefits, and free continuing education courses. However, some downsides could include extremely full schedules that could leave a new graduate overwhelmed and feeling like a dental restoration mill. This could lead to compromises in quality of care for the patient. Some corporations also limit the amount of autonomy a new graduate has in treatment planning for their patients. This could leave the new dentist with a treatment plan they don’t agree with and possibly performing procedures they don’t feel are in the best interests of the patient.

When considering working for a private practice there are pros and cons to evaluate as well. A private practice may not be able to offer full-time employment or compensation as high as a corporation. There may not be a steady influx of patients, which would also affect the amount of income one takes home at the end of the day if compensation is based on production. Many students have also found that it can be difficult to find a private practice that is a good fit because many owners are looking for associates who are willing to do molar endo, a procedure most new dentists are not comfortable or well-trained to do. Furthermore, benefits may not be offered and continuing education courses usually come at the expense of the new dentist.

Thus, the question becomes which opportunity will give me plenty of experience, compensate well so that I can pay down my debt, offer opportunities to learn and grow, not force me to compromise the quality of my work or principles, and put me in a city/state I’m comfortable living in? I like the idea of working for a private practice since that’s what I ultimately want to do but would working in a corporate environment give me more experience and help me evolve into a better clinician faster? Or would I get burned out by the full schedule and frustrated with wanting more autonomy and less oversight?