At some point, you may have heard about dental service organizations (DSOs) and what they have to offer dentists. You might have heard about their culture, student loan repayment process, and developmental programs in order to nurture your career as a dentist. With all the options available to a young dentist out of school, you have to decide early on how well your outlook, philosophies, and goals match up with whatever pathway you decide to take in your career.
If you’ve been considering working in a DSO, here are four things to look forward to when you get started:
Development and Starting Out
In a DSO-supported practice, you can focus on patients and treatment decisions while the organization handles the management and marketing of your practice. Not only that, but DSOs also help with the financing, office, maintenance, and non-clinical operations. Many DSO-supported practices give incoming dentists opportunities for professional development in order to advance their skills, while also providing a generous compensation package and a clear path to practice ownership.
Becoming an Associate Dentist
As when you join a conventional dental practice as an associate dentist, a DSO practice can provide a supportive environment with helpful colleagues that foster a community to make sure your first year is exciting, not an uphill battle. Working side-by-side on extensive procedures with an experienced, mentor dentist, you’ll have support whether you have some experience under your belt or fresh out of dental school.
Becoming a Leading Dentist
After a sufficient period to build your confidence and clinical skills, the DSO practice often provides opportunities to advance to a role where you’re the clinician guiding dentists that are new to the practice. The name of this role varies from DSO to DSO, but it’s an important step on the journey from associate to practice owner. Once you’ve become comfortable in your working environment as an associate dentist, you can play a crucial leadership role in the practice. Here, you’ll receive additional developmental training to aid you in managing the practice’s team of dental professionals. Completing comprehensive exams on new patients and participating in treatment planning are just some of the new tasks you may see in this role. Get ready to feel like an owner!
Becoming a Practice Owner
If you envision practice ownership as a dentist, it is important to know the DSO model often provides a step-by-step process to pursue this goal. Once you’ve considered possible practice locations (either to buy or relocate to) and explored financing options, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an owner. Make sure your credit history and financial profile are well in order. Depending on the DSO and your financial wherewithal, you might be able to choose to partner with other owners or open your very own office. Practice support teams at the DSO are with you every step of the way, working to confront any problems and push you to new levels in your career. You’ll also have the chance to explore owning additional practices!
DSOs offer a great opportunity for advancement in the dental profession: developing your confidence and skills as well as business acumen and patient rapport. With the freedom to focus on the craft of dentistry without the headaches of running your own business, it’s no wonder graduate dentists are choosing this option in increasing numbers. Special thanks are due in part to Dr. John Fazio, owner of multiple practices in Pennsylvania, who shared his experiences with the DSO practice model in a recent webinar for THE NEXTDDS. You can watch the webinar here.