Can You STILL Be Happy in Private Practice?

by Shawn Peers, Dental Peers

Photo: iStock

It is always interesting to observe how perspectives change from one generation to the next.

 While consulting with a dentist in Ottawa approximately 10 years ago, a 4th-year dental student dropped by. An ambitious person, she was already exploring the path for potential associate opportunities when she graduated the following year.

 We chatted and she shared with me some of her thoughts on her future in dentistry. She shared with me that she and her classmates were all concerned about the growing influence of corporate dentistry on campus. Her issue was not with corporate dentistry per se. She was simply part of a generation that had little to no trust in any large corporate entity.

 Fast forward to today and a conversation I had with another 4th-year student just recently. His position was that his classmates found corporate dental organizations more appealing than their predecessors. They believed corporate groups could provide a better “work-life balance” than they could enjoy as owners of a private practice.

 So why this transformation?

 To begin with, dentistry has changed over the years. Gone are the days when you simply opened your practice and financial success was almost assured.

 Marketing was a piece of cake. Externally, pretty much the only thing you could do was place an ad in the Yellow Pages…remember those?

 Regulations governing infection control and safety were minimal. And who actually knew anybody who was subjected to a random inspection from any sort of provincial health and safety office?

 As for monitoring your financial performance, that was usually little more than an annual chat with your accountant, who usually just told you how much money you were making. There was no concern about analytics. Nobody talked about KPI’s. You did dentistry. You made money. End of story.

 There is no doubt dentists today carry more responsibility for learning about business than their predecessors. And, sadly, the education they receive in dental school does not prepare them for this.

 With the pressure of all these added considerations, is it any wonder that many are willing to forgo the substantially higher income they could earn by owning a practice in favour of the more peaceful existence of being an associate?

 The problem with this line of thinking is that it is very binary. You can either have work-life balance and less income as an associate, or you can have a higher income while drowning in work as a practice owner. There are no options in between these extremes.

 Now what if I told you that there actually are options!

 Don’t get me wrong, there will be some effort required from you. The steps required to make a practice run efficiently will necessitate an upfront commitment of time from you. You have to be prepared to invest some time “working on your business.” If that does not appeal to you, working as an associate with a corporate dental group may be ideal, and it is a truly great option for some.

 But if you do invest the time it takes to set up your practice the right way, owning your own practice will not be all consuming. You will not be stressed over every granular detail about your practice.

 In the next few blogs, I will spend some time detailing how you can achieve this. For now, let me leave you with this thought: yes, it is entirely possible to be happy owning your own private practice!

About the Author

Shawn Peers is the President of DentalPeers. DentalPeers is one of Canada’s oldest, continuous operating buying groups exclusively for dentists.