Having your own practice has a lot of rewards. But joining with a well run larger practice, like Dental Partners of Boston, has some perks you won't get by yourself. If you're deciding whether to take a spot in a large practice with several dentists working together here are some pros and cons of that kind of arrangement you should weigh before making your decision.
Patient acquisition and referrals
Finding and holding onto patients is a constant concern in the dental
business. In a full service practice, marketing is done primarily for
the office as a whole. This means it probably won't be something you
have to worry about on a regular basis. Additionally, you'll have a
built in source of referrals from the other dentists in your office.
This is good for patients too, since they get a one-stop source for
their dental care.
Con On the other hand, this could cost
you the opportunity to build relationships with potential patients. And
of course the other side of the coin of getting referrals is the
expectation that you'll give them to your in-office colleagues, whether
you think they do good work or not. If you specialize in an essential
kind of dental work in a good sized market, such as periodontal surgery in Philadelphia and you're good at what you do, referrals won't be a problem.
Joining a group of dentists means you won't have to handle rent and
other overhead costs alone. It's almost always cheaper to share a larger
space than rent a small one by yourself. Additionally, there will most
likely be staff to handle your books, which will allow you to focus on
your patients and professional development as a health care provider.
Depending on the arrangement of the firm, this could also mean you
won't own anything in the practice and therefore won't have any equity
that will benefit you when you choose to retire or are looking to get a
home loan. It's also likely that your office will have across the board
pricing for procedures. You'll have to stick with this price schedule,
whether you think it's too low or too high.
Most dentists adjust policies about billing, procedures, and staff as
problems arise. This is because they're learning many aspects of running
a business as they go. With a team of dentists you have the advantage
of several sources of experience working together and the ability for
each to focus on areas of strength and greatest interest.
On the other hand, within a team of highly educated professionals, ego
and personality will inevitably create friction in decision making.
Decisions you make will often be second guessed. Managing by committee
is never easy. In your own practice, when you make a decision, the
discussion is over.
Of course there are many other
factors to consider in choosing a practice, but these may give you some
useful questions to ask up front. Also keep in mind that it's generally
easier to find an established small dental practice for sale
than get into a large partnership. Many large practices allow dentists a
greater level of flexibility over their work. Also, partnering with one
other dentist can give you many of the perks of a team without all the