Career development is becoming more important for dental graduates in today’s economic climate. Many students leave dental school with hundreds of thousands of dollars of student debt. Not only do graduates need immediate income to make student loan payments, but the large debt levels may also hinder their ability to secure loans at favorable rates. The increase in the number of corporate and franchise practices provides immediate employment opportunities, but it also increases competition in the local marketplace for start-up practices. Individual practitioners, who face increased competition as well, are often reluctant to take on an associate in the traditional role of owner and mentor. The complex dental insurance world makes practices less profitable than in the past, leading to further cash flow problems for young practitioners.
Because of these economic constraints, graduates need to plan their career development. In the past, the simple answer was to “set up a practice.” Now the plan may involve working in a corporate practice for several years to increase clinical and management skills or to work in a public health setting to gain some student loan relief and build clinical skills. Most graduates still have the ultimate goal of practice ownership (either individually or in a group) but now must take an often winding road to get to their goal.
There are two general categories of income generation for new dentists. First, they can work for someone else (get a job). This option allows immediate income generation but does not provide long-term professional security. They can find employment with a private practicing owner$en$dentist as an associate dentist, with a dental management service organizat/>