Most dentists are faced with the decision to choose either open their own business, join another private practice, or become part of a Dental Service Organization (DSO).
But what exactly are DSO’s? What benefits do they have for your dental career, or alternatively, what are some of the drawbacks associated with them?
This post will give you a basic understanding of Dental Service Organizations and answer these questions with a goal to see how they might work with your own dental career.
WHAT ARE DSO’s?
Dental Service Organizations are also referred to as Dental Support Organizations. They both are commonly abbreviated as DSOs, and at their core, their business models provides non-clinical functions for dental practices. In many cases, services can include things like human resources, payroll, marketing efforts, IT solutions, and practice administrative support. For a dentist that seeks to focus primarily on their patients without the stress or worry that operations and administrative tasks can create, joining a practice that is managed by a DSO is an attractive option. DSO’s generally promise greater mobility and work-life balance compared to practices who manage their own operations.
That being said, there are definite advantages and disadvantages when it comes to joining a DSO. If you’re a novice dental practitioner, here are some to keep in mind when making decisions that affect your career.
As mentioned before, the primary benefit that DSO’s offer is the ability for dental practitioners to focus on their clinical and patient experience, while the administrative and operational duties are managed by a third-party DSO.
This potentially means more time providing high quality care and less time spent on menial operational tasks.
Similarly, participating in a DSO can yield access to cutting-edge technology that might not otherwise be attainable through an independently managed practice. There are also special mentoring programs, coupled with attractive starting salaries, that can be especially enticing for dentists in the early stages of their career.
The biggest drawback to signing up with a DSO is the lack of independence and autonomy. Because DSO’s manage everything from payroll to administrative staff, your practice does not have a lot of freedom (if any) when it comes to management in these functions.
Another key disadvantage to joining a DSO is that the focus can become focused on numbers instead of providing patients with a high-quality standard of care. While DSO’s can boast greater numbers because of their ability and scope to serve more patients, the quality and personal nature can often diminish as a result.
THINKING OF JOINING A DSO?
Whether you have a freshly minted DMD degree or you’ve been practicing for decades, the decision to join a DSO does affect your career. If independence and autonomy are some of your goals, DSO’s might not be the best choice for you. On the other hand, if you hate being bogged down by the operations side of things, DSO’s could help you take away some of that burden.
Regardless of where you stand, you don’t have to make the decision alone. Reach out to Dr. Coughlin today and we can help you make the best decision for your career and/or practice – whether it’s with a DSO or not.