There is no question that corporate dentistry plays a major role in dental practices today. While many people are accustomed to smaller private practices in the past, corporate dentistry is a growing trend in recent years. In fact, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), solo-owner private practices are shrinking by approximately 7% per year. Both types of practices offer benefits for dentists depending on their preference of work environment and patient care.
Private Practice allows dentists full autonomy and entrepreneurial direction in how they choose to run their practice. Private practice gives a dentist complete control of their office design, patient care, technology choices, and marketing strategies. Essentially, it gives the dentist the ability to create the image of the practice. A major advantage of private practice is the ability to focus on comprehensive treatment, while not adhering to strict analytics and profit driven guidelines. This means the dentist can tailor a practice that is patient focused, rather than business driven.
However, the downsides to private practice are all the stress and challenges that come with owning a small business. Managing staff, scheduling, billing, accounts receivable and insurance issues can be daunting for a small private practice owner. Overhead typically can go as high as 75% for some practices, leading to higher costs and lower incomes for dentists. Dentists in private practice typically do not get paid time off, medical/dental benefits or disability benefits. A lack of benefits can lead to much higher costs for a dentist out of their income.
Corporate Dentistry are organizational structures that manage all of the business and oversee patient care. It can be very appealing to many new dentists, as it allows a dentist to focus solely on clinical care and avoid business responsibilities. Corporate offices can negotiate salaries and schedules, which is beneficial for new dental graduates with large student loans or a dentist near retirement who only wants to work sparingly. Working for a corporate office also means collaborating with other dentists on treatment plans and having coverage if you are sick or on vacation.
A drawback to corporate dentistry is it can be limiting to a dentist’s choice of treatment, materials, and technology. Many offices require stricter production goals, which can be stressful since they are profit driven. Maximizing profits is usually the larger goal of a corporation, which may come off as compromising personalized patient care. Often, it can be difficult for a dentist to be supervised and potentially criticized by a non-clinical team member. Some of these drawbacks lead to a higher turnover in dentists and staff in corporate dental practices.
Regardless of which type of practice you work with, the most important factor is creating high quality patient care and working in a team oriented environment. Depending on your career goals and lifestyle, both private practice and corporate dentistry offer excellent options.