Ownership within grasp
CHRIS SALIERNO, DDS
It has become a tradition over the past few years to dedicate our May issue of Dental Economics
to new dentists. A whole host of challenges face recent graduates that simply didn’t exist 10 or
20 years ago. Alternative practice models, oppressive student debt, and an increasing average
age of retirement for dentists are three major trends that come to mind.
The pathway to business ownership is more complex and intimidating
than it used to be.
This year, let’s address the first great step that most young graduates
take on their journey: associateship. When I lecture to new dentists
around the globe, I frequently hear the same questions: “How long should
I work before I’m offered a buy-in? How will I get financing when I already
have student loans? Can an employer dentist dictate which labs I use?”
It wasn’t that long ago that I was an associate dentist. I recall
wondering if a practice was the right fit for me. Could I see myself owning
that office one day? I had heard stories of dentists who were still
employees many years after graduation. They either didn’t have the
interest in ownership or, what I feared most, had let too many good
opportunities slip away. On the other hand, I also feared investing in a practice that was a lemon.
Would there be giant red flags to let me know I should move on?
The pathway to business ownership isn’t as straight and brightly lit as it once was, but I
believe it is still quite navigable. There are several resources available for those young folks who
are feeling a little lost. The American Dental Association’s New Dentist Committee served as
my compass during my early years. And I certainly learned a lot from the pages of Dental
Economics. I am proud to carry on the tradition of educating our newest members in the
profession. To the associate dentists who are reading this now, I want to encourage you to tear
out your favorite pages as I did years ago. Avail yourself of the resources from groups that want
to see you succeed. Ownership is within your grasp.