Dentist Compensation Transparency: How Do You Get Paid?


Dentist Compensation Transparency: How Do You Get Paid?

Gold coins in a clear bank.

Whether you are a new dentist just entering the dental field or an experienced practitioner seeking advancement and a more rewarding work environment, compensation transparency is vital to finding your ideal position. With so many different business models for running a dental practice, it is more important than ever that you understand what to expect and what questions to ask when researching your compensation options.

The Reality of Practice Ownership

Dentists working in a group practice setting or with the help of a dental support organization like CDP frequently find they are better able to achieve the work-life balance they want.

While practice ownership may seem like the dental dream, there are pros and cons to every dental business model. Many dentists find that managing the business side of a practice becomes a burden. When you want to focus all your attention on providing the best treatment possible and cultivating a great team, owning a practice means dividing your attention between treating your patients and protecting your assets.

Purchasing and maintaining millions of dollars’ worth of equipment, managing payroll, chasing payments from insurance providers and patients, paying off student loans, and don’t forget about paying the plumber every time the sewer line in the lab backs up because that one assistant keeps washing plaster down the drain are all part of practice ownership. As you can see, there are many factors beyond the challenges of clinical dentistry that can lead to burnout.

Fortunately, dentists no longer need to struggle against these challenges alone. Dentists working in a group practice setting or with the help of a dental support organization like CDP frequently find they are better able to achieve the work-life balance they want. Where working solo leaves you constantly stressing about the practice and taking emergency calls even when you’re on vacation, working for a group frees you from many of these concerns.

The Importance of Compensation Transparency 

Regardless of your long-term career goals, most dentists start out as something other than practice owners. In your first few years of practice, you will likely work with a group or as an associate at a private practice. Either way, there are some essential pieces of information your employer should share with you. 

CDP Doctor interacting with young female patient

Does the Employer Pay Off Production or Collection?

Many practices pay only on what has already been collected from the patient or insurance provider. CDP is proud to pay dentists based on their production. Look for employers who pay you for your work while we handle insurance and payment management. If practice ownership is your pathway, remember, even owning your own practice means you don’t get compensated until payment has been completed. 

Also, some treatment items are frequently not included in what an employer considers payable to the dentist. For example, are cleanings and X-rays included in doctor production? Transparency around your compensation is the key to understanding your financial potential. 

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Does the Employer Cover Malpractice, Lab, and Supply Fees?

There are many hidden costs in the practice of dentistry. Malpractice insurance coverage can eat away at a dentist’s pay, and you can’t practice without it. Fortunately, CDP covers this and many other hidden costs for our doctors. If you are considering working for a group or private practice, ask whether you will be on the hook for your malpractice insurance coverage. 

Likewise, lab and supply fees are necessary for any dental practice. Many times, these fees are deducted from your production figures. Here at CDP, we want our dentists to provide the best possible work without the strain of lab and supply fees prohibiting treatment. That’s why we cover lab and supply fees for our dentists.

Will You Be an Independent Contractor or an Employee?

Many group practices consider their dentists as independent contractors. That means you’ll receive a 1099-MISC instead of a W-2 form. What’s the difference?

As an independent contractor, taxes are not taken out in advance. While that larger weekly or bi-weekly check might seem tempting, remember that you are on the hook for a massive tax payment come tax season. By joining a practice as an employee and receiving a W-2 instead, your taxes will be handled on the front end. This means you won’t have to carry a separate tax savings account.

On top of that, joining as a W-2 employee means you can be eligible for benefits. Most dentists have no option for group benefits coverage. Health coverage for you and your family can add a shockingly heavy burden to your financial load. By joining CDP, you can be eligible for benefits by working as little as three days per week, which means more security while providing the ability to maintain overall wellness for you and your family.

CDP’s Doctor Pay App: Full Transparency at All Times

One cornerstone of an effective team is open communication and transparency of information. That’s why we created our Doctor Pay app. Through this user-friendly software, our dentists always have access to the most important details of their day.

Doctors review their schedule and compensation on the CDP Doctor Pay App.

On the app, CDP dentists can see their production in real-time. You can see which procedures you perform most often and access necessary patient information and images from your phone or smart device. The app also provides compensation transparency so you can track production and your monthly pay, in real-time, at all times.

Your schedule will also automatically update in real-time. You will always know your days off, closures, and holidays which is always great for work-life balance and planning! There is less guesswork and access to tools at your fingertips that help you avoid the most unpleasant surprises. 

When you are ready to start down the doctor-owner pathway, this app keeps visibility to your offices, even when you’re out. That means you’re free to enjoy your time away without wondering what chaos you might return to later.

Let CDP Help You Achieve Your Ideal Work Life

CDP is proud to offer highly competitive compensation packages for first-year dentists. On average, our first-year dentists make $272,000 per year. We offer benefits, mentorship, and a philosophy of care that will help you achieve your highest goals. Reach out to a Hiring Manager for more information on how we can push your career to its highest potential.

Dr. Craig Copeland
Dr. Craig Copeland Chief Dental Officer Community Dental Partners

A graduate of Brigham Young University’s Business Finance department and the University of Florida’s College of Dentistry, Dr. Craig Copeland, DMD first joined Community Dental Partners in 2010 after Co-Founder, Dr. Chad Evans invited him to an interview.

He instantly fell in love with CDP’s mission to elevate dentistry, make excellent dental care accessible, and provide unique and unforgettable experiences for underserved communities. The organization’s culture aligned with his beliefs, and he knew that CDP would offer him the ideal environment to grow.

Today, Dr. Copeland is the Chief Dental Officer of CDP and focuses on helping CDP’s doctors exceed in their careers through mentorship, training, and strengthening CDP’s support systems.

Dr. Copeland lives in Texas with his family, his wife and four children. He’s an avid sports fan; supporting his children in activities such as basketball, gymnastics, and soccer keeps him busy. He also likes to travel to new places with his family whenever possible.

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