Life after dental school: a checklist for what’s next

checklistIf you’re in your fourth year of dental school (or just planning ahead), it is a great time to have a game plan after you graduate. Here are a few things to consider:

Work as an Associate


  • You have an immediate income.
  • You can focus on improving your dentistry skills. If you are in a group setting, you can learn from a more experienced doctor for complex cases.
  • You can learn about running an office before getting into your own.


  • You have to work for someone. Being a boss is not be for everyone since it has its pros & cons.
  • You are not in control of scheduling or supplies. The flexibility here varies with offices.

Associate with a predetermined buyout


  • Immediate income with a long term equity or ownership option.
  • Learning the clinical and business ropes from an experienced doctor
  • Option to buy when you have a better knowledge of the office and its staff and patient pool


  •  Risk of inheriting any problems from previous doctor (Ex: poorly done treatment)

Buy an existing office


  • Usually an immediate cash flow
  • Has an existing patient flow


  • Risk of inheriting any problems from previous doctor (Ex: poorly done treatment)
  • Risk of build-out or mechanical problems with office
  • Risk of problems with staff that you were not aware of

Build-out a new office


  • You can pick the location you want to be in
  • You can customize the office exactly how you want it


  • No immediate income. There is a much higher initial stress level associated with this due to a lack of initial income

Tell us where you see yourself in 5 years and how ASDA can help you achieve this goal in the comment section below. The four best responses will receive Dr. Naren Chelian’s book, A Dental Office Checklist: Opening a new dental or dental specialty office. But act quick! This contest closes on Wednesday, Oct. 30.

You can also read more about Dr. Chelian in October ASDA News in the Life After ASDA column.

~Dr. Naren Chelian, Los Angeles ’06, orthodontist

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About Naren Chelian

Dr. Naren Chelian graduated from UCLA School of Dentistry in 2006 and completed his orthodontics residency in UNLV School of Dental Medicine in 2008. He works in his private practice in Las Vegas and has authored a book on opening a dental office: "A Dental Office Checklist: Opening a New Dental or Dental Specialty Office."

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Comments (4)

  1. Dr. Michael Bolten

    I just finished reading your article about “Life after dental school: a checklist for what’s next” and you made some great points. When coming out of dental school you don’t want to compromise on integrity and I believe that for one to be successful in a dental practice you need to have a checklist and make sure you have completed what you set out to do. Be a dentist and be the best you can in your community!

  2. Kedy Shen

    I’d hope to be either in private practice or wrapping up a specialty residency. Either way, I’d like to get experience for sometime before entering academia.

    • semhar goitom

      i found the points very helpful. But as for me I’d like to work for a year or so under private practice and specialize after.

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