Okay, so you’re done with dental school. You might even be done with your residency. Now what? Now, it’s time to get to work. If you already have a dentist job lined up, congratulations! But for those who are just beginning the hunt for the right DDS/DMD career, things are about to get interesting. Here are a few tips to consider, as well as important questions to ask yourself, as you begin the search for your first job as a dentist.
First things first—where to look for dentist jobs:
Before you can have the luxury of worrying about which job to take, the first order of business is to find the available dentist jobs. Here are some places you should look:
– The most obvious step—which you have probably already taken—is to look online for dentist career opportunities at job websites like Hunter & Spence, CareerBuilder, Indeed, Monster, Glassdoor, Craigslist, even the ADA’s online career center page. Check back regularly for new job listings.
– The school from which you graduated will often have job listings available on their website.
– Join local and state dental societies. Go to the meetings and introduce yourself. Ask fellow members about available jobs. You might be surprised by how effective face-to-face interaction can be. These societies also often have websites and journals with dentist job listings.
– Chances are that already you know several area dentists. Let it be known that you’re on the hunt for a dentist job. Even if they themselves are not hiring, there is a possibility they have colleagues who are hiring associates, or who are retiring soon and looking to hand over their practice to another dentist.
– Sales representatives at dental supply providers like Henry Schein, Benco and Patterson work closely with dentists and might have knowledge of dental offices hiring near you. If you know anyone in this field, it can’t hurt to ask.
– If you have contacts with any dental practice consultants, appraisers, or brokers, they often have their finger on the pulse of the local dental community and may know of dental practices looking to hire an associate. This is also a great resource for dentists interested in starting their own practice or buying an existing one.
Ask the important questions
Below are some of the key questions you should ask yourself as you begin the application and interview process.
Question#1—What type of practice do I want to join? There are three general types of practices in which a dentist can work.
– Join an existing practice as an associate: This is the most common choice for new dental graduates. Often, associates are hired with the intention of making them a partner in the practice at some future date, but it’s not uncommon to jump around to a few different practices until you find the right fit.
– Start your own practice: If you have a passion for business and are committed to spending a significant amount of time managing a practice, then starting your own practice might be a good option. Some brave new graduates decide on this path, but this choice is often put on hold until new dentists get a few years of associate work and practice-management training under their belt.
– Join a Dental Service Organization (DSO): Dental service organizations can be ideal for dentists who wish to focus exclusively on patient care and are not interested in taking on additional debt needed to purchase a practice. The group of dentists that are networked together is often much larger than in a private practice, so there is usually more exposure to a variety of specialties, more opportunities to shadow senior dentists and specialists, and an emphasis on collaboration and teamwork between dentists. There is also often potential to take on additional leadership roles that do provide exposure to the management and business side of running a dental practice.
Question #2—What kind of people do I want to work with?
You will be working with the dentists and other staff for around 40 hours every week, so it’s important that you enjoy being around them. If you’re a high-energy social creature, you may not feel comfortable joining a practice where other dentist are more reserved and buttoned-down, and vice versa. You may also want to consider whether your lifestyle and values is compatible with those of your potential colleagues. Regardless of the kind of people you decide to work with, it is imperative that you feel you can trust them.
Question #3—How much money do I want to make?
What salary do you need to live comfortably? Many practices state a ballpark figure that you can expect to make, but unless they can guarantee a specific salary or daily rate in writing, you might want to hold off on making big expenditures until you have been there for a few months. Don’t be shy to ask your fellow dentist friends how they are compensated to get a feel for what the average, fair rates are.
Question #4—Am I willing to relocate?
If you are, your job prospects are considerably greater. Make a list of cities you would willing to relocate to and expand your job search to fit those.
Question #5—Do I like the office?
Appearances may not matter to some, but they might matter to you. Is the dental office of your prospective employer easy on the eyes? Some offices might be in disrepair or have shabby interiors, which may potentially affect your enjoyment and even be a hindrance when recruiting new patients.
Question #6—Is there updated equipment and software?
More important than having a beautiful office, is having a dental office with updated equipment. You may also want to see if the office utilizes charting software, as that can save you enormous amounts of time and hassle.
Question #7—Can I grow as a dentist here?
Finding a DDS career that offers a comfortable income is one piece of the puzzle. Finding a dentist job that offers opportunities for professional growth is another crucial piece. In the interview, ask about learning and training opportunities. Do senior dentists mentor newer dentists? How much guidance will you have as you take on your new career as a dentist?
Don’t get hung up on perfection:
Odds are that your first dentist job will not be your last. Make a list of the things you’re looking for in a dentist career but understand that finding even half of those things can be a good start. The most important thing is to get a job as soon as possible so you can accrue hands-on experience to perfect your craft.
Need help with your job search? Contact a Hunter & Spence Dental Career Consultant today.