Choosing your location is one of the most important decisions you will need to make in your career. But what if your dream location already has plenty of dentists and there’s no patient pool waiting for you? What if the area needs dentists, but patients are unwilling or unable to seek dental treatment even if you opened a new practice in their neighborhood? It’s important to ask the question, “Where are dentists needed the most?” Once you know the answer, you can choose a location where you can not only build the lifestyle you crave but where you can also provide medical care to a community that needs you.
Prospective Job Growth: Search by State and by County
Predicting employment trends can be incredibly complicated, and difficult to get right. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dentistry should see an 8% increase in job growth in the next ten years or so, which is about on par with other industries. However, that increase is not evenly distributed across all 50 states. For example, Massachusetts is projected to see a loss of dental jobs in the next several years (about -8.5%). In comparison, some sources suggest Texas should see an uptick of about 31.7%, well above the national average.
Many factors affect these projections, including expected retirement from current dentists, population growth or shrinkage, and changes in access to dental insurance. In the past, Texas had a questionable dental job market because while many areas needed dentists, it was one of the most underinsured states. However, this has changed in recent years. Coupling population growth with better access to dental coverage means there are more patients than ever in the Lonestar State seeking dental providers. Texas needs dentists, and that bodes very well for your employment potential here!
Consider Skipping the City Life
As you explore options for different states, be sure to look at multiple estimates for job growth, both in the state overall and in the specific city you’re considering. For example, Miami may be a hard market to break into because there are already so many dentists there. However, Port St. Lucie on Florida’s East Coast is expected to see an increase in dental employment as it has become an attractive retirement destination in recent years.
Especially in the post-COVID world, as more jobs have opened the opportunity to work from home, many cities are seeing a decrease in population density. People are seeking more space, cheaper housing, and maybe even a bit of land to live on. That means the US may see an overall trend of population shrinkage in urban centers and a shift toward rural or suburban living – the target areas that typically don’t already have a saturated dental market.
Practicing Rural Means a Better Life for You and Your Patients
Rural dental practices have long been a safe bet for new dentists. There’s less competition and plenty of opportunities to be found where patients need dental healthcare. As mentioned above, many people with a better ability to afford dental care are moving to communities outside metropolitan areas. This shift to rural living spells a huge opportunity for dentists outside city centers.
Beyond the career-boosting benefits of working rural, there is one fact that will mean the difference between just working and cultivating a career with purpose: rural communities need healthcare. As you consider where you want to work, consider where your work may make the most impact on your patients’ lives. Many areas are in need of dentists, but rural areas are one of the places where they’re needed most.
Rural patients find difficulty accessing healthcare in large part because the nearest practitioner may be prohibitively far from where they live or work. Compounding factors, rural patients may be at greater risk for dental pathology. Many residents may drink well water, meaning they don’t get the passive benefit of fluoridated water their urban counterparts may enjoy. Rural workers may smoke or dip more commonly than individuals working in offices. Dentists choosing to provide care to patients in these areas make a huge impact, and that can make the difference between just working and building a life’s work.
Income vs. Cost of Living
Another benefit of going rural is the decreased cost of living. If you’re considering practice ownership, keep in mind that real estate in cities can be a huge drain on profits. It can also mean limited space and limited growth potential for the future of your practice.
Even if you plan on skipping the ownership role, you’ll typically get more for your money living outside a city in everything from housing to food. Depending on what state you choose to live in, rural living may also make your taxes more affordable. Workers living in New York City, for example, get hit with federal, state, and municipal taxes. These can quickly erode what initially seemed like an attractive salary.
Texas is a great state to consider from the tax perspective because there’s no state income tax to factor in! That means you take home much more of your pay. The state falls near or below the national average for cost of living (depending on what area you choose), but many dentists make at or above the national average for dental income projections. High income and low expense are a sure recipe for financial success!
Become Part of the Community: Fill a Need and Build a Life You Love!
Choosing where to work isn’t just about the job. Skilled deep-water fishers may find desert life a drag. Hiking enthusiasts may find that Florida falls flat. Consider what you value in your time off, as well as what kind of community you’d be happiest living in.
For what it’s worth, Texas has something for everyone. From coastal communities to sprawling ranchlands, amazing kayaking and hiking to artistic cities like Austin. And that Southern hospitality isn’t just a myth!
Our communities tend to be warm and welcoming. We love connecting at sporting events and music festivals. Texas is also a foodie paradise, boasting amazing multicultural cuisine and American classics like barbeque (it’s serious business here).
Wherever you land, take your lifestyle into account. Consider not only your own needs but also those of your spouse and/or kids, current or future! Try to picture your life growing in the place you’ll work. Make sure it feels like somewhere you can put down roots and build a life and dental career you’ll love.
We hope you find meaning in your career, wherever you choose. Obviously, we’re fans of Texas. We also believe in your potential to change lives by working where dentists are needed the most. Schedule a call with a Recruiting Manager to learn more about working in high-need areas!