Business Owners

Is Dental Practice Ownership Right for you?

If you're considering dental practice ownership, here are some key things to consider. When you're ready, reach out to Keyway to help you identify the real estate opportunity right for you.

Christopher Meehan

Christopher Meehan

Is Dental Practice Ownership Right for you?

Whether you’ve just finished dental school and are deciding on the first step of your career path, or you’re a seasoned dental associate trying to decide your next move, you might be considering whether dental practice ownership is actually the right decision for you. Of course, there’s no right or wrong answer and it really all comes down to who you are and what your goals and plans for the future look like.

There are many pros and cons to remaining a dental associate and not owning your own practice or taking that leap into ownership. Here are some considerations to make in this very important crossroads that will hopefully get the juices flowing and lead you to your right decision.

Pros of Not Owning a Dental Practice and Remaining an Associate

No staff to manage. Dental associates typically only have to worry about providing dental care to their patients - the exact thing they were trained for and hired to do. On the other hand, many dental practice owners are, by default, also the recruiters and managers of their dental associates and other staff members. This doesn’t often reduce the time they spend practicing dentistry (nor do they necessarily want it to), but there are of course only so many hours in a day.

So, if you go down the practice ownership route, you need to take the time to learn and be comfortable with these practice management tasks along with your regular duties, which can be quite time-consuming.

Additional career choices. Dental associates will generally have more freedom and flexibility to leave their jobs for further education, relocation opportunities, or other career moves, whereas practice owners are much more tied to the specific location in which they set up their practice. Selling, moving, or shutting down a practice can of course be done, but it often requires a lot of time, effort, and money. 

Less responsibility. When it comes to service quality, office maintenance, financial management, and everything else that comes with practice ownership, dental associates are often not involved, or at worst very minimally responsible. This frees you up to focus on what you do best - providing dental care to patients - and reduces stress in your day.

Cons of Not Owning a Dental Practice and Remaining an Associate

Less say. Depending on the type of person you are, you may have somewhat of a tough time working for someone else and operating under their rules. Know that when it comes to decisions for the practice, including the techniques employed, who to hire, and what equipment and supplies to purchase, it’s possible that your input might not be considered or valued. You also might not have much or any say about how much time each patient gets and what services you provide.

Dictated or inflexible work hours. When you don’t own your own practice, it’s likely that you won’t have much, if any, say about your hours and work schedule. Bottom line, your employer will need to schedule shifts for dental associates and other staff members according to their needs.

Less income. As a non-owner, you’ll be taking home a salary, not profits from the practice. With an average salary of nearly $160,000, this means dental associates can do quite well relative to a slower or less profitable year. However, if you’re particularly financially driven, you might find it disappointing to know that you could have earned more in a successful year as a practice owner.

Whichever career route you choose to take, keep in mind that sometimes you won’t know what’s truly best for you until you take the leap and try it out. Whether you decide to take the leap or hold out a little while longe, Keyway can help you understand how and when to use real estate to achieve your goals.