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Tips for Finding the Right Practice as a New Dentist

By Heartland Dental

Finding a new job as a dentist isn’t always straightforward. After all those years of schooling and finally passing your boards, a job search may be the very last thing you feel like doing. It’s not always easy to find the right match. 

Navigating and finding the right dental career opportunity can be challenging, but it’s critical to your future career fulfillment. You can start by thinking about what your ideal job looks like, so you can spot it when you interview. From there, you will be better able to narrow down the many opportunities and find a place where you’ll enjoy your work.

1. Think Location, Location, Location… Where do You Want to Work?

Location is everything, so you may as well start by considering what is ideal for you. Decide what kind of commute you’d be happy with, or more importantly, unhappy with. Pick the geographic areas that appeal to you, then work with a recruiting team or look for job postings in those areas first. If something isn’t available when you need it, then you can always widen your search. There’s no reason that it shouldn’t be your top priority when you’re trying to find the right practice as a new dentist. 

What about relocating? Did you want or do you need to move to a new location? Do you have anyone on the ground who can help you with your search? Have you visited the new city and looked for a recruiter in that area who can help you?

2. Search Postings from a Reliable Provider

Before you start searching online, narrow those searches to online listing services that only work with reputable practices. Specialty dental job sites have already screened and researched the practices looking to hire a new associate. You reduce your risk and increase the likelihood that you’re walking into a dental practice that’s stable, has an excellent reputation, provides opportunities for growth, and more. 

3. How to Decide if it’s a Good Fit

There’s one thing that every job search in every career has in common: No one knows what’s best for you but you. Someone else’s ideal situation may not necessarily be yours. Dentistry can be a stressful job even when it provides the best challenges and opportunities for growth; you are the one that gets to decide precisely what kind of environment or opportunity will advance your career in the right direction. 

Some guidance that may help:

Corporate or private practice? Both offer different advantages and opportunities, especially if you have plans on owning your own practice one day. Are you interested in administrative opportunities that a larger organization can offer? You won’t know until you start looking, and we recommend that you spend plenty of time interviewing in a variety of environments before you make a decision. 

Value alignment. Do the values of the practice align with yours? It’s far better to find that out before you accept a job than after. 

Continuing educational opportunities. Will they financially support you partly or fully when you further your education down the line? What kind of flexibility will you enjoy if you decide to specialize or take more training? Is there a good mentorship program? Can you tap in to a larger community of dental professionals?

Benefits and bonuses. Beyond salary, what types of benefits and bonus packages are they offering?

Shadow opportunities. Can you shadow the dentist for a few hours or an entire day before you make your decision?

Patient Load. How many patients are you going to be expected to maintain, and what does your compensation per procedure look like?

If it’s not clear what the answers to some of these questions are, bring them up when you interview. This is your chance to find out about the practice, as much as it is a chance for the practice to get to know you!

4. Modernization and Budget

Before you commit yourself to a new practice, find out how committed that practice is to staying up to date with its equipment. If a dental practice has invested in the newest and best tech, they will be ready to brag about it. Find out how regularly they reinvest in new equipment and what the future plans are. You don’t want to be stuck in a business that’s out of date in two or three years. 

Make sure to find out what kind of marketing budget the practice has and how they go about getting new patients. What is their growth rate and what is their growth strategy? How do they manage growth and find out if they work with an outside marketing partner

5. Three Words: Take Your Time. 

Take as much time as you need, or at least take as much time as you can, before you accept an offer. That goes doubly true if you have doubts. Make notes after every interview and jot down what felt right, as well as red flags. Circle back after that meeting and address your concerns if you get the offer. As long as you’re respectful and discreet, any dentist will understand that you’re just doing your due diligence.  

Also, if a practice really speaks to you the minute you walk in the door, speak up! Again, as long as you’re professional about it, the people making the hiring decision will appreciate knowing how interested you are. 

6. Network!

Join local networking organizations and professional societies. Make a goal of trying to attend at least one networking event a week.  Stretch yourself to make new connections and meet people in your field. 

As much as finding the right practice as a new dentist might look daunting, with the right mindset and a little bit of patience, the right job will eventually present itself. It’s OK if that does not happen overnight.

If you need help, a dental support organization like Heartland dental can help you narrow down your choices. Even if it looks overwhelming, the more you look, the more people you meet, the higher the likelihood that the right gig is waiting for you right around the corner.  


Tags: Dental Job Search, Careers In the Dental Industry