For many new dentists, the concept of practice ownership can seem daunting and out-of-reach – particularly at a time when the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) found that dental school graduates are often saddled with more $240,000 in debt and older dentists are retiring at a much later age.
Yet the opportunity to build a career and own a practice is well within reach for offices supported by Dental Support Organizations (DSOs) like Aspen Dental Management, Inc. (ADMI). Today, ADMI supports over 500 office locations across 32 states, all of which operate under the Aspen Dental brand. With a new office opening every 5 to 6 days on average today, opportunities for growth and ownership abound for dentists, both new and experienced.
With so much rapid growth, ADMI recently invited more than 30 associate dentists as well as several dental students to its inaugural Associate Development Experience. This event, held in Chicago, was a chance for Associates to network, as well learn about opportunities for career advancement and practice ownership from Aspen Dental practice owners.
“Coming out of dental school, practicing dentistry was what I wanted to do most and Aspen Dental has provided me a clinical foundation that has made me comfortable in my abilities to deliver care,” said Dr. Michael Chang, an associate dentist from an Aspen Dental office in Newnan, GA. “This experience was a great opportunity not only to network with my peers, but to have an open, direct discussion with tenured practice owners who were willing to talk about their own career journeys with us in such a candid way. The level of transparency and engagement was fantastic – I left Chicago inspired and with my eyes open to the opportunities that exist for me as a young dentist.”
One of those practice owners was Dr. R. Dustin Dixon, who owns nine practices and employs 14 general dentists and two specialists in southwest Florida.
“Not too long ago, I was in the same situation: Trying to figure out if working within the DSO model was right for me,” Dr. Dixon said. “Ultimately, I made the right decision for me, and it’s been a rewarding one. Growing my team to its current size involved not only developing my doctors into stronger clinicians and trusted partners, but also embracing the support of my DSO and learning what it takes to grow a practice while delivering great clinical care to my patients.”