The Benefits of Working for a Dental Chain as a New Dentist
By Dr. O. Basil Aboosi
Dental chains are becoming more common as we move forward into the 21st century. There are several different types. Most have a dentist who provides services a general dentist would normally provide. Some have orthodontists available on site. Some concentrate on dentures. There are small chains that consist of three to five locations and may be local. However, some are larger and can have hundreds of locations. Some dental chains can even be national, and many are located in or near shopping centers and strip malls.
There can be some great benefits to working for a dental chain. As a dentist graduating dental school or finishing a residency, a dental chain can be a great stepping stone. One advantage is not dealing with dental insurance companies and finances of a practice. Typically, there is a staff member who deals with those elements. Dealing with insurance companies can be difficult for a new dentist who is still increasing his or her speed and knowledge of dentistry. During dental school, we do not get much exposure to dealing with insurance companies, so a dental chain also can help you learn about different insurance carriers.
Another advantage is benefits. As a dentist, it is hard to find benefits through an employer. After spending so much time in dental school, it is important to obtain a 401(k) plan, disability insurance and life insurance. Depending on the employer, available benefits consist of malpractice insurance, disability insurance (long and short term), life insurance, health insurance, 401(k) plans, paid vacation, paid sick time, paid holidays, CE course reimbursement and CE courses available by employer.
Also, some dental companies that concentrate on dentures have a lab technician on site. One who is still gaining experience in the dental field may learn greatly from a skilled technician. Moreover, patients can get their dentures in a quicker manner with a lab technician on site. In difficult cases, the lab technician can look at the patient’s old dentures and wax trays, rather than trying to read off a lab script.
In addition, when a dentist who works in a dental company takes a vacation there most likely is coverage. The office does not need to close so patients receive the care they need. New and existing emergency patients can typically be seen in a timely manner as compared to a solo practice. In some cases, these emergency patients are seen the same day they call for an appointment. Some of these practices have several dentists, which allows for a larger patient base and the ability to accept new patients more frequently.
Dental chains may have an option to partner or buy into one or several practices. This is something that may be desirable to a dentist who has been practicing for several years and may be looking for growth. This would allow the dentist to profit more from the practice and work they are putting into the company. An advantage of buying into a practice with a dental chain is avoiding more debt with the start up of a practice. These dental companies typically spend considerable dollars on marketing. Potential patients will become aware of these practices from TV commercials, large ads in the paper and phonebooks.
As you can see, there are many benefits of working for a dental chain. I encourage you to consider this option upon your completion of dental school. Even though there are some dentists who do not fit into the dental chain environment, make sure you consider the advantages and disadvantages prior to making your decision.