Is this Group Practice Right for You?
April 12, 2014
The different group practice models are growing in popularity, but every opportunity isn't a good fit for every dentist. Dr. Rebecca Warnken has worked for a group practice since graduating from dental school in 2013. She offers these suggestions for ensuring you have a good fit.
Make an In-Person Visit
This might seem obvious, but one group practice offered Warnken a job even though she had never set foot inside the facility. "It was definitely a challenge for me to search for opportunities in Florida while finishing school in Wisconsin, but my solution was to take a few jam-packed trips to tour facilities and meet people in person. I would never accept an opportunity based solely on phone calls and photographs."
Don't Feel Obligated
One group practice paid to fly Warnken to tour a prospective opportunity. "That was thoughtful and a little flattering. But I interpreted that as a reminder that even as a new dentist I have potential to bring a lot of value, not that I should be beholden to them for making it easier for me to get a comprehensive picture of the practice."
Ask about Patient Care
"I wanted to be sure that I was the one who would be making decisions about patient care, and that those decisions would reflect what is best for the patient, not what's most lucrative for the bottom line. And I talked to both management and to dentists who were in my same position. If they hadn't allowed me to talk confidentially with fellow dentists that would have been a red flag!"
Clarify the Non-Clinical Responsibilities
"Every group practice approaches these questions differently. I wanted to gain experience with the small business side of dentistry, so it was important for me to have responsibility for things like balance sheets and be able to track the financial health of the practice. There were some HR changes shortly after I arrived, and I had assistance in navigating those and ensuring the team was fully staffed during the transition. This works well for me, but if I had just wanted to do dentistry and not any of the other business pieces, that would have been frustrating. So ask those questions!"
And No Matter What
"At the end of the day I'm the doctor and these are my patients. It's my professional reputation, it's my license, it's my credibility that's on the line. And that's true no matter whether I'm practicing dentistry in a private practice, or as part of a large organization or at a charity care event or any other setting. That's not negotiable!"