Advantages of Working in a Group Dental PracticeMay 20, 2022
Many of us remember the days of going to our family dentist. The office probably consisted of one dentist, a front desk associate, an assistant, and maybe a hygienist. That office was a solo practice, a common dental practice model up until about twenty years ago.
Over the past few decades, dental practice models have dramatically changed. Now, most dental practices are no longer owned by a single practicing dentist but rather in some group model. Even traditional private practice ownership is in decline, which has set the stage for corporate ownership.
A recent ADA infographic shows that solo practice ownership fell from 66.5% in 2001 to 46.2% in 2021. Of that, trends show that younger dentists are preferring group practice models instead of solo practice.
Changes in practice models mean that those who work in the dental field as dentists and as dental auxiliaries have more choices about what type of setting most meets their professional needs. Simply put, when looking for a new job, you can now choose a solo or group practice.
Types of Group Practice Models
Just as the solo practice has changed so has group practice. Now, group practices are generally either privately owned or supported by a corporate entity.
- Privately Owned Group Practice - This type of practice is dentist-owned and operated by more than one dentist.
- Dental Support Organizations - This type of practice model has several variations. While they can be dentist-owned but managed by the organization, many are owned by the corporate entity and not the practicing dentists.
Advantages of the Group Practice Model
Although there can be advantages to working in a solo dental practice, the group practice model offers many advantages over the traditional small practice model. These advantages include:
- Dental Professional Integration - In a group practice, you are exposed to a wider group of dental professionals who can coordinate care that leads to better patient care.
- Advanced Technology - A group practice has more ‘buying power’ for the latest technology such as AI software, digital technology, newer clinical tools, and modern facilities.
- Continuing Education - Working in a group often means that continuing education is offered in-house. Many group practices provide their staff with free CE opportunities and ongoing staff training.
- Flexibility - Since there is more than one provider in the office, you typically have more flexibility when it comes to scheduling working hours and planning vacations. And when you have a last-minute need, there is often a pool of colleagues who can fill-in for you!
- Benefits/Wages - Having more employees, group practices have the ability to offer benefits such as medical insurance and retirement that is difficult for a solo practice to affordably offer. Because of competition, wages are often more competitive and subject to increase with regular evaluations.
- Professional Growth Opportunities - In a group setting, more growth opportunities exist that may provide employees with advancement opportunities as the practice grows.
Is Group Practice Right For You?
Whether a group practice is right for you is something you will have to ask yourself. If you are just beginning your professional journey in the dental field, you may be looking to connect with colleagues to help you learn and grow daily. If you are a veteran dental professional, you might be looking for flexibility.
One concern that you might have is losing that feeling of a work family that often comes with working in a solo practice. If that is the case, you may want to consider a privately owned group practice where you will work side by side with the owners of the practice. Working alongside your employers often offers you the opportunities to pitch ideas, discuss patient care, and have more autonomy than the DSO model may offer.
Dental practice models are shifting away from solo practice to various group practice models. Now more than ever, it is time to consider the advantages of working in a group practice that can offer you more while allowing you to practice quality care in a team environment.