My previous two posts provided information from Dr. Williams and Dr. Winter – both faculty at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry – regarding employment after dental school. This post outlines my experience just nine months after graduation and I hope you find it useful.
First, new graduates should understand that good jobs are hard to find regardless of your experience. The fact is, after overhead expenses (including insurance deductions) there is little profit to be made if an owner is paying an associate a fair salary. This usually means that an associate will not be salaried; instead, the associate will be compensated either by a percentage of production or collections. Still, after compensating an associate between 25 and 40% of production or collections depending on the market, there is little profit left over for the owner to put in her pocket. This raises the question – if a practice is busy, is it better to hire an associate or raise the fees? Note that typical overhead for a general dental office is approximately 60%, but overhead can be as low as 55 and as high as 80.
Second, few private practices (as pictured in a dental student’s mind) post job openings on Craigslist and almost none post on job sites like Indeed. Craigslist and Indeed are two websites a new graduate can browse to find a position in a corporate chain, an associate run office, or some public health clinics.
[An associate run office is a dental office owned by an absent owner whose day to day operations are overseen by an office manager. Typically these owners are attempting to build something similar to the big chains but are in the early stages; or the owner is trying to build out a small number of dental offices in the hopes of being acquired by a corporate chain.]
So How Can a Dentist Find a Job in Private Practice?
You can begin by searching the classified ad section of your local dental society. Many of the local dental societies associated with your state dental association and the ADA have a place on their websites where dentists can post their resumes and browse local openings. However, some local dental societies do not publish a list of open positions or a list of employment seekers online – instead, they may request that you email the society your cover letter and CV where it will only be released to member dentists who request a list of available applicants.
Dental Town has a classified ad section that is frequented by dentists in private practice. Using Dental Town, you can browse openings on a state wide level. You can also post an ad in the “seeking employment section”.
Use the AGD. The AGD is a national organization for general dentists that has online career resources. One of which is a jobs board where you can search for openings close to your zip code. Few private practices post jobs here as it is a new service, but there are some opportunities depending on your location.
Using your local dental society and the AGD chapter associated with your state, do some old-fashioned face-to-face networking by attending the local meetings and CE courses.
Contact local supply reps for the dental supply companies like Henry Schein, Benco, and Darby. Few people frequent dental offices, but supply reps do and they may know which dentists are looking to hire an associate in your area.
Mail your resume. Some private practice owners are continuously contemplating hiring an associate but just haven’t pulled the trigger and posted an ad. Identity some potential practices you think would be a good fit, write a cover letter, attach your CV, and put it in the mail (or deliver it in person).