I am a practicing dentist. There’s a pretty big difference between medicine and dentistry, we did have a lot of dental students in my year drop out at the end of first year to go to med because they realized it wasn’t for them and they weren’t able to forget their dream of being a doctor. Like.. I hope I don’t offend any other dentists here but being a dentist is not the same as being a doctor and I do feel definitely you won’t feel the same type of importance/respect at work. Patients will see you as probably like a technician lol. Of course I realize there are many downsides to medicine too but overall I’d say think hard about if you really want to give up on med.Haha, definitely seems that way! I'm just curious about the business-dynamics of running a dental clinic, as for me personally, I do see it as some milestone I'd perhaps work towards in my dental career. However, with the saturation of clinics I've seen recently (metro at least), it seems difficult to start-up in the current climate.
Certainly am at this rate! Fortunate to have been given an offer for dentistry, but am unsure to take it or retry for medicine. After realising the reality of medical training pathways, dentistry took my interest for being hands-on and the supposedly better lifestyle. Even then, the ability to be accredited after just 5 years and to start practicing appeals to me as well. I know you're not earning the 6 figures immediately (albeit the few lucky ones), but being able to practice and get good at your craft straight-away is amazing.
Certainly true, however, I question why there is a high corporatisation rate in the US in comparison to Aus? Possibly due to a difference in healthcare systems, but I'd have no idea.
This is where I see an issue in metro-based dental clinics in the future (potentially). Disclaimer, I have absolutely NO idea about the industry and am making this based on general understanding. If the saturation of clinics increase, people tend to 'shop around' for the best prices. With some corp-clinics (possibly) on the rise, I'm sure the general public will tend to favour these cheaper options for their general dental procedures (possibly due to hygienists?). I do see the value in private dentists still being able to perform more elusive procedures, as they have the skills/experience, but perhaps corps may change to also target this specific market as well.
There’s a lot of upsides to dentistry too like income, flexibility of hours, lifestyle. a much shorter pathway etc. But don’t go into dentistry thinking it’s “almost like being a doctor but with benefits” because it’s really not. Like I reckon a GP has pretty good hours and lifestyle too and that’s not a super long pathway either.
Dentists in private usually earn commission so your income can vary a lot depending on how busy you are and how much expensive vs cheap treatment you do. But like someone else said it is not hard at all to earn six figures on your first year out provided your clinic is reasonably busy. Overall I’d say if you are even a little bit ambitious it’s better to work private than public. Public jobs tend to offer less experience and limited scope (I would disagree that even extractions are good because most general public dentists don’t do surgicals and just refer to the specialists, whereas I was encouraged to do them privately). People who work in public do it for a few reasons, some feel it’s better job satisfaction (since you are helping people in need and don’t have to charge them). I generally feel it’s easy/less stressful clinically but there’s a crapton of admin and hospital politics you have to deal with (such as senior nurses who will tell you what to do based on what they want to do because they’ve been there longer than furniture). Source; I work both private and public, they have their advantages/disadvantages.
As for opening your own clinic, like someone else has said it’s not at all hard for you to earn more working for someone else than opening. I would say the market for a experienced dentist is good. Not hard at all to find a good metro job with 2+ years experience at a clinic that is busy, offer you 40% and would love it if you did lots of expensive treatment. If you did that you can earn $300-$600k without having to worry about staffing, equipment and all the stresses of running a clinic which could eat into your clinical time and thus your earning. Of course if you don’t upskill (at least doing a regular amount of crowns/bridges/surgical extractions or even better ortho/implants) or if you work at a not so busy place you could be stuck on $100-$150K for a while. But at least you will not be earning negative.
from what I’ve heard it’s very very difficult to open a new clinic in metro area Sydney or Melbourne as it’s so saturated. General Clinics are at the mercy of insurance companies as patients will want to go to their insurance companies preferred provider and they care more about how much gap they’re paying more than how charismatic/personable/skilled their dentist is. Like as long as you’re not clearly terrible, all dentists are more or less same to them. It’s impossible to get a preferred provider status now in metro areas of Sydney and Melbourne as they’re all taken. It’s like a race to the bottom because as long as you sign up you’re bound to the healthcares list of fees… uh BUPA $120 cleans anyone? But if you are not a preferred provider, good luck to growing your practice.
youd either have to take over an existing popular metro clinic which already has a preferred provider status (expensive $$$$$$) or you could open a start up rurally.
Hope this helps. I hope I’m not too doom and gloom. I do still think dentistry is a wonderful career and always still recommend it when my patients ask me about it for their kids. But like you said it may not be as good as it was 20,30,40 years ago and may continue to slowly decline. You can combat that by upskilling and doing more complex work and still earn great money. But it’s not just an easy walk in the park, just open a clinic and the patients will come, that it used to be.