Dental Career

What Is a DSO and Why They’re a Great Way to Start Your Career

Dental Career

What Is a DSO and Why They’re a Great Way to Start Your Career

Dentist, hygienist, and happy, smiling female patient.

Whether you’re a recent dental school graduate or an experienced doc looking for a change, considering a DSO can offer amazing potential in your career trajectory. What is a DSO, exactly? And what makes a DSO a great way to start your career?

What Is a DSO?

A Dental Support Organization, or DSO, is a business that partners with dentists to provide administrative support for a dental practice. The DSO takes care of payroll, equipment maintenance, ordering supplies, managing finances, and all the other myriad items that can pull a dentist’s attention away from what they do best: caring for patients.

We’ve gone into detail about the dental service organization business model previously, but the basic idea is that a well-run DSO is here to help dentists achieve their highest potential as clinicians. While corporate dental practices can technically fall under the umbrella term of DSO, Community Dental Partners takes a different approach to dental care. We believe in putting the patient first, and that means helping dentists jumpstart their careers so they can provide first-rate care right from the beginning.

The Key Benefit of Starting Your Career with a DSO: Support

How can working with a DSO like CDP help you care for patients? In one word, support. Recent dental school graduates need support at the beginning while they gain confidence, grow their skills, and learn the ropes. That’s why we have organized our entire philosophy around providing a supportive environment where dental practitioners can grow throughout their careers.

A dentist bonds with a pediatric patient while her mentee observes.

Support from Mentors

Mentorship makes all the difference to new dentists. Guidance from an experienced doctor allows recent grads to move through those awkward first steps with confidence and pushes them to achieve more than they may think possible in their first year. Beyond observational learning and side-by-side treatment experience, a great mentor can help you cope with the sometimes overwhelming emotions that come with working as a dentist. Your mentor can help you navigate high-anxiety patients and how to work well with your team.

It’s not impossible to find a great mentor outside the DSO setting, of course. Many associates working for a private practice may start their careers with a wonderful mentor at their side. However, even the most enthusiastic dentists may lack the time to sit with you through your first few procedures and may not have any experience as a mentor. Mentorship programs like ours are one of the many reasons a DSO can be a great place to start your career.

On-the-Job Learning with Full Support

Just as with any job, your first months may bring a steep learning curve. In your first adventure into dentistry outside the dental school setting, this learning curve can leave you feeling insecure. It’s so important that on-the-job learning in dentistry is done with the full support of an entire team, from your dentist mentor to your assistants, hygienists, and office managers.

As important as this support is for you, it’s essential for your patients. Even experienced dentists will have a tooth fracture during what was supposed to be a simple filling. The difference is that experience teaches you what to do and how to best handle that situation. Without a great mentor at your side and a dynamic team behind you, those learning experiences come at the expense of your patient. Being able to trust your support team not only benefits you as a newcomer. It’s also one of the ways Community Dental Partners guarantees the best possible care for our patient.

Administrative Support

One benefit of a DSO is that administrative support is handled by the DSO, meaning that dentists can focus on taking care of patients.

The whole point of a Dental Support Organization is, well, support! A DSO should support its dentists in their mission to focus on patient care. As great as private practice can be, going into business for yourself brings with it a slew of concerns that can not only pull focus away from your patients, but also drive you up a wall. After all, you didn’t go to school for business management.

Look at it this way: great general dentists know when to refer to a specialist. The administrative support team at a good DSO are specialists in the business end of running a dental practice. Why put yourself in a position to wear all the hats when you’ve only got one head?

The Brass Tacks: Starting Your Career with a DSO Makes Financial Sense

Student loan costs have skyrocketed in the past decade, and that trend shows no sign of stopping . Today’s dentists graduate with a heavier student loan burden than any generation of dentists before them. That’s why it’s so important to start your career with the least risk and highest reward you can find.

Great Pay and Benefits with No Financial Risk

Starting your own practice may seem like the brass ring everyone wants. But keep in mind practice ownership means purchasing or leasing space, buying equipment, paying to maintain that equipment, covering payroll, keeping the lights on, et cetera, et cetera. In short, it can be a huge financial risk. At the beginning of your career, with no experience behind you and no patient roster ready to fill appointments as soon as you open your doors you may not be prepared to go into business on your own.

On the other hand, signing on with a DSO like Community Dental Partners means you get great pay and benefits with none of the financial risks. It’s a great way to start your career and grow your skills in an environment that sets you up for success. With this firm foundation under your feet, you can move into your career with confidence and enjoy great pay while you’re at it!

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Skip Post-Doc Training Programs; Start with a Salary

If you follow our blog, you would have seen our recent post as to whether you should consider post-doctoral training programs or opt for on-the-job learning. As we mentioned before, working for a practice with great mentorship and support gives you the best of both worlds. You can learn effectively on the job while earning a great salary.

Most graduates these days really cannot afford the extra year or two in limbo, not quite starting their career but not quite still in dental school either. Depending on your loan type, you may be able to defer repayments for about six months after you graduate. Make sure you can afford those payments as soon as they come due!

Find Your Stride with a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Beyond the competitive salary, great benefits, administrative support, mentorship programs, and so on, there is one more major perk to starting your career with an amazing DSO: work-life balance. Achieving a healthy work-life balance is one of our key pillars here at CDP, and something we take very seriously. As a new dentist, it can be all too easy to become overwhelmed and burnt out. Burn-out is about the worst thing that can happen to a new dentist. It can suck the joy out of what can be a profoundly rewarding career.

That’s why it’s so vital to start your career with a practice that piques your enthusiasm and keeps you energized. Working with Community Dental Partners means working with a team that understands the value of your time. We understand you will be working to find balance between your work life and the needs of your family. The healthier your life is outside of work, the more effective you will become in your work.

However, finding that balance can be hard on your own. That’s why having a full team behind you is such a great way to start your career as a dentist. Schedule a call with a Recruiting Manager to learn more about starting your career at a great DSO like CDP!

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 (CDP) 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 great dental care accessible, and provide unique and amazing experiences for underserved communities. The organization’s culture aligned with his own beliefs and he knew that CDP would offer him the ideal environment in which to grow.

Today, Dr. Copeland is the Chief Dental Officer of Community Dental Partners 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, and supporting his children in their activities, such as basketball, gymnastics, and soccer, keeps him busy. He also likes to travel to new places with his family whenever he can.

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Careers with CDP

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You take care of the smiles. We take care of you.

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