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Navigating Career Options in the Complex World of Dentistry

Posted Oct 22nd, 2019 in the wire, 2019, thought leadership

Guy Amini, President, dentalcorp

Now more than ever, dentists, like all new professionals, are prioritizing work-life balance and overall well-being. This is having a profound impact on their ambitions and career choices. Unfortunately, with unprecedented debt loads burdening most dental grads, there is overwhelming pressure to start working (and earning income) as soon as they become licensed. The desire for balance and the pressure to work makes choosing the right career path all the more important. Navigating that choice successfully starts with a better understanding of the state of the dental industry today and how it’s evolving.

Competitive and complex

Dentistry in Canada is highly competitive and fragmented. Over the last ten years, there has been extraordinary growth in the number of dentists in Canada being driven by:

  • Dental schools graduating more dentists each year;
  • Foreign-trained dentists flooding the Canadian market; and
  • Lifestyle changes, leading to dentists choosing to retire increasingly later in life.
The increase in dentists has led to a shortage of the number of dental practices available for purchase, driving the cost to acquire up and making it viable only to well-resourced dentists or those willing to take on significant financial risk.

Patients—like all consumers—are also becoming more demanding and sophisticated. These patients value convenience more than ever, expect excellent service and are more than willing to look elsewhere if their needs aren’t met. Given the growth of dentists, it will be easy for them to find a new dentist to meet their needs.

Finally, practices are becoming increasingly complicated to operate. Today’s dentists need to be well-versed in all aspects of running a high-regulated services business, which isn’t what they went to school for. To be successful in today’s landscape, dentists need to be experts in:
  • HR Management: recruiting, retaining and developing team members of all levels and disciplines;
  • Financial Literacy: accounting, accounts payable and payroll;
  • Sales and Marketing: reaching, engaging and converting prospects into life-long patients; and
  • Risk and Compliance: navigating the industry’s highly complex and demanding regulatory bodies.

Industry effects

These factors have combined to create a fiercely competitive and complicated environment in which dentists need additional support to be successful. Dental Service Organizations (DSOs), like dentalcorp, have developed as a vehicle to provide the strategic support and operational efficiencies that dentists now need. A byproduct of the emergence of DSOs is the creation of a new career path and growth opportunities that have never been available to dentists.

As you approach graduation, you have many considerations to take into account when choosing which path makes sense for you. Navigating the choice between traditional and emerging careers paths starts with thinking about why you chose dentistry in the first place and how you want to practice going forward.

Traditional practice options


You have complete autonomy over everything you do, but you face tremendous personal, financial and legal risk while being tasked with managing a very complicated business. In the current market, maintaining an innovative practice with up-to-date technology can be the best competitive advantage but requires significant ongoing investment.


You have the freedom to choose when and where you work, without significant financial outlay and therefore face little personal risk. As an Associate, however, there is no leadership or management path or responsibilities. Your earning potential is also tied to the direction of the practice principal and a small business.

A new career path

Dental Service Organizations (DSOs) offer an increasingly appealing career path for graduates, as they can provide the advantages of both ownership and associateship, along with additional benefits. If this is a career path you are exploring, it is important to select an established organization that aligns with your core values and prides itself on clinical excellence. A strategic DSO should also be home to highly successful practices, providing you with many advantages, including:

  • Access to an established, stable and growing patient base
  • Structured mentorship and training to complement your clinical education
  • Freedom to choose when and where you work, with the opportunity to fill your schedule at multiple practices that share similar processes and infrastructure
  • Access to leading-edge technology to stay ahead of the curve
  • Career paths with the benefits of practice ownership, without the financial risk

As you start your journey as a dentist, I encourage you to explore all your options, ask questions and own your future in this rapidly growing and exciting industry.

As originally published in Oral Health's Special Student Issue

About the Author

As President of dentalcorp, Guy supports the company's Chief Executive Officer in overseeing the company's day-to-day operations, with a strong focus on stakeholder relations. Guy further leads the company's Legal & Compliance, Corporate Communications, and People teams.

Guy has a robust background in mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and strategic commercial transactions. He holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law and an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University.

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