Dental Career

12 Questions to Ask When Joining a Dental Practice

Dental Career

12 Questions to Ask When Joining a Dental Practice

Smiling CDP doctor, hygienist and young child in dental office setting.

Finding the perfect job placement may be daunting for new dentists with limited experience. It can be challenging to sort through all your options and hone in on a practice that will provide an excellent start for your career. It can take a lot of questions to find a match with a new employer. Here are 12 great questions to ask when joining a dental practice!

Questions to Ask Yourself When Joining a Dental Practice

Before starting the interview process as a new dentist, it can be valuable to take a moment and assess your needs and wants in a practice. Beyond your philosophy of care, however, some pragmatic questions are worth considering.

1. How Far Will the Commute Be Each Day?

You may already have a home and are searching for a practice nearby. Or, you may find a practice and then look for a house based on where you work. Either way, that commute can consume hours of your day if you don’t plan carefully. If you don’t know where you want to live, research the housing and real estate market near the practice. Will you have to live far away to get the kind of house you’re hoping for? If you have kids, is there a good school district nearby?

2. What Are Your Long-Term Career Goals?

You need to know whether you’re looking for a long-term associateship or to become a practice owner one day. Likewise, consider whether you’re hoping to specialize or what extended scope of practice procedures you wish to incorporate into your daily practice. Knowing your goals, such as practice ownership, can help you find a better fit. 

3. What Kind of Team Dynamics Are You Hoping to Find?

Do you prefer a workplace with tons of socialization and friendships with your co-workers? Do you like to keep to yourself? As a dentist, are you hoping to be seen as the boss, or do you like teammates who feel comfortable approaching you with problems or letting you know when things go wrong? Do you prefer a rigid hierarchy or open communication? Choose a practice that mirrors the team dynamic you are looking for.

Questions to Discuss with Your Spouse or Family When Joining a Dental Practice

Some of you may already have a spouse or long-term romantic partner or may have other family to consider in your working decisions. Be sure to lay down some groundwork with them before your interviews. These are also good considerations if you’re flying solo!

Husband and wife at home discussing dental work decisions.

4. What Kind of Lifestyle Are You Looking For?

Take a moment to think about your ideal lifestyle. Do you want to own a home with a nice big yard? Go kayaking in your time off? Maybe you’re more of a city dweller and want a fabulous flat and weekend theater tickets. Whatever your preferred lifestyle, be sure you and your partner can find a place that suits your needs. Incidentally, Texas has many options for every lifestyle, from avid hikers to urban socialites!

5. Does the Location Fit Your Lifestyle?

Have you narrowed down which states and cities you’d like to live in? Research the city and be sure it’s a good fit for you. Does it have the kind of restaurants you like? Will you be able to go to your favorite sporting events? Is there public transportation or sound road systems to make that commute easier? Get to know the city a little bit before you make your decision!

6. What Are the Expectations for Time Commitment?

Some new dentists and their spouses may come into the career with unrealistic expectations for what working as a dentist means. They may imagine copious leisure time, new cars, and regular vacations abroad. With the right career moves, these things may come eventually. However, for a new dentist, you will likely work longer hours with less time off than your mentors. Practice ownership can also make enormous demands on your time and mental energy. Be sure you know how much time off you can realistically expect and what your family will need from you during that time. Consider what you’re looking for in a practice that may help you reach a work-life balance that serves your whole family.

Speak with a CDP Hiring Manager

Interview Questions to Ask When Joining a Dental Practice

Once you have a strong concept of what you’re looking for in a practice, it’s time to start those interviews! Here are a few more questions to help you ensure a great match.

7. What Is the Culture Like?

Does this practice have a set of principles or mantra that sets the foundation for their philosophy of care? This can give you a good indicator of their culture when serving patients. However, asking about team culture, the dynamics between clinicians, and how the practice identifies their values can also be essential. A positive office culture can help you avoid burnout and navigate the sometimes challenging dental environment.

8. Will You Have a Mentor to Rely On?

We cannot overstate how crucial dental mentorship is during your first years of practice. While finding your feet, you might feel intimidated or worry about making mistakes. Having a great mentor by your side to support your development and guide you through challenges can set the trajectory for your entire career. Be sure to ask if the practice has an experienced dentist who will act as your mentor. Setting you up with a mentor is one of the first steps when new team members join CDP!

Mom playing peek-a-boo with young female patient at the dentist office.

9. Can the Practice Support Your Long-Term Goals?

Since you’ve taken the time to consider your long-term plans, ask the practice how they will support you in pursuing those goals. Do they have a dental practice owner pathway? Will there be opportunities to practice expanded functions like endo? As you get closer to possibly joining a dental practice, these may be the most important questions to ask! Similarly, be sure to find out whether you will be working solo or expected to collaborate with other doctors in the practice. Some DSOs will have opportunities for both solo and dual provider practice.

10. What Are the Patient Demographics Like? 

Have you considered what kind of patients will keep you engaged and energized in your daily practice? What are their unique needs, and what resources will you have to address them? Some dentists get the most satisfaction working on really tough cases. Others will feel energized by working with kids. Asking about the typical patient in the practice can give you some idea of what case types you’ll see most often and how your average day might flow.

Family at pediatric dental office filling out paperwork.

11. What Are the Practice’s Policies & How Are They Followed?

This broad question can apply to various aspects of the practice. The practice will likely have many policies, ranging from interpersonal interactions between team members to collections to dismissing patients when necessary. Find out if the practice has a handbook that outlines its policies and what support you will have to follow them.

12. How Long Do Patients Usually Wait for Treatment?

Some practices aim to have patients in the chair for treatment the same day it’s diagnosed, while others may be booked for treatment weeks in advance. This question can give you a feel for how many patients the practice usually serves, how well-equipped they are to see those patients promptly, and what their expectations may be for you to adapt to schedule changes throughout your average day. 

You can also ask about average daily or weekly production per dentist and patient visit counts. Both metrics can give you some insight into workflow. You’ll want plenty of patients to fill your schedule, especially if you’ll be paid on production. However, you don’t want to be overworked and burned out in your first year. 

Taking a thoughtful approach to finding your first dental job will pay dividends. Rather than settling for the first job offer you get, preparing a few essential questions before joining a dental practice can help you find a great match. With options and opportunities for every dental career path, Community Dental Partners may have the perfect position for you. Schedule a call with a Hiring Manager to learn more about beginning your career as a dentist with CDP!

Tiffany Green
Tiffany Green Director of Clinical Recruiting Community Dental Partners

A distinguished graduate of Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business Operations Management and Marketing, she holds an MBA and MS from the University of Texas at Arlington, specializing in Operations Management and Human Resources.

With a rich experience spanning over a decade, Tiffany has been a trailblazer in the Human Resources realm. She has consistently made a profound impact, from talent management and system implementation to employee relations and training & development.

Presently, Tiffany serves as the Director of Clinical Recruiting at Community Dental Partners. She manages the entire life cycle of doctor recruitment, optimizing the customer journey from lead generation to lead conversion. She leads in developing and supporting CDP's innovative recruiting platform to strategically enhance brand awareness utilizing multiple strategic marketing strategies.

Nestled in Texas with her loving family—husband and three children—Tiffany finds joy in spontaneous adventures, embracing natural wellness, and savoring life in gratitude with a cup of coffee. Her enthusiasm lies in connecting doctors with opportunities that bring about tangible and fundamental changes in people's lives while radiating the passion to make the whole world smile!

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