So you want to be a practice owner…someday: Solo or group practice, which is right for you?

Editor’s note: This is the first article in a summer series of New Dentist Now blog posts on practice ownership.

It can take significant introspection to determine whether you’re best suited for a solo practice where you run the show, or a group practice with two or more dentists taking direction from an individual or corporate owner.

Wells FargoIn general, the solo practice may offer more income potential – you do not have to share profits with partners, and you have greater control over your overhead. However, joining a group practice may give you greater stability with a more predictable salary and lifestyle, and more flexibility as work can continue to be performed when you are away from the office.

It’s up to you to determine which type of setting is most likely to fulfill your needs and expectations, as well as fit your personality type and interpersonal style. Take a look at the following list of key characteristics to see which one best describes you from Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the practice lender endorsed by ADA Business Resources.

Solo Practitioner

1)   Entrepreneurial. You crave the freedom to pursue your own clinical interests and are not afraid to work hard and take calculated risks. You look forward to having complete control over your practice and professional life.

2)   Highly organized. You enjoy the business side of dentistry including the administrative responsibilities of hiring and managing staff, selecting insurance, purchasing technology and marketing your practice.

3)   Strong decision maker. You can make tough decisions based on your own best interests and those of your patients, understanding that the ultimate success and growth of your practice is your responsibility.

4)   Visionary. You know where you want to go with your career, and have a good idea of how to get there. You prefer to be in charge of the quality of care, environment, customer service and operation of your practice.

5)   Good negotiator. You’re confident in your abilities to identify and hire professional team members to help you successfully locate, build, design, equip, staff and manage your practice.

Group Practitioner

1)   Team player. You thrive in a collegial setting where you can interact and learn from colleagues and ultimately achieve mentor status. You are comfortable taking direction from a corporate employer or group leader.

2)   Focused. You prefer to focus deeply on your area of expertise, honing your skills in a specific field of dental care, rather than juggling multiple responsibilities and administrative tasks.

3)   Well-balanced. You seek a predictable income and regular work hours in order to achieve stability and a healthy balance between career and family.

4)   Flexible. You can “roll with the punches” and adapt to management or structural changes that may occur in your work setting, such as the number of dentists with whom you will share the workload and the types of treatments you will offer.

5)   Ability to compromise. As in a good marriage, you understand when to push for your own needs and objectives, and when to compromise in order to preserve and grow the relationship.

Working for a period of time in a group setting can be beneficial for the new dentist, as you have the opportunity to learn how a practice is run before taking on this responsibility as a solo practitioner. However, with excellent clinical and organizational skills, you can succeed in a solo practice and enjoy the significant sense of achievement that such an endeavor can provide.


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