The May issue of Dental Economics is dedicated to new dentists. Dr. Chris Salierno, chief editor, says, "The pathway to business ownership isn’t as straight and brightly lit as it once was, but I believe it is still quite navigable. ... Ownership is within your grasp."
It has become a tradition over the past few years to dedicate our May issue of Dental Economics to new dentists. A whole host of challenges face recent graduates that simply didn’t exist 10 or 20 years ago. Alternative practice models, oppressive student debt, and an increasing average age of retirement for dentists are three major trends that come to mind. The pathway to business ownership is more complex and intimidating than it used to be.
This year, let’s address the first great step that most young graduates take on their journey: associateship. When I lecture to new dentists around the globe, I frequently hear the same questions: “How long should I work before I’m offered a buy-in? How will I get financing when I already have student loans? Can an employer dentist dictate which labs I use?”
It wasn’t that long ago that I was an associate dentist. I recall wondering if a practice was the right fit for me. Could I see myself owning that office one day? I had heard stories of dentists who were still employees many years after graduation. They either didn’t have the interest in ownership or, what I feared most, had let too many good opportunities slip away. On the other hand, I also feared investing in a practice that was a lemon. Would there be giant red flags to let me know I should move on?
The pathway to business ownership isn’t as straight and brightly lit as it once was, but I believe it is still quite navigable. There are several resources available for those young folks who are feeling a little lost. The American Dental Association’s New Dentist Committee served as my compass during my early years. And I certainly learned a lot from the pages of Dental Economics. I am proud to carry on the tradition of educating our newest members in the profession. To the associate dentists who are reading this now, I want to encourage you to tear out your favorite pages as I did years ago. Avail yourself of the resources from groups that want to see you succeed. Ownership is within your grasp.
Chris Salierno, DDS