Management + Leadership

Establishing yourself as a new dentist in a community

Upon graduation, the average dental student faces countless obstacles such as deciding where to practice, paying down student debt and more. Establishing oneself as a dentist in a community is a tall order for most. Whether as a specialist or a general dentist, it is a necessity for new dentists to develop an action plan for establishing themselves in a community. To do so, you’ll need to focus on three critical steps: 1) identify a target group; 2) network with established dentists in the area; and 3) develop promotional products to raise one’s profile within the community.

Identify a target group

Isolating your target dental market may be the most imperative aspect for establishing and determining your role as a dentist in a particular community. As a general dentist, identifying, developing and expanding a patient base will dictate how a practice is organized and carried out. You’ll need to create a practice around your personal preferences of dentistry (implant based, surgically based, etc). You should consider how to best serve a particular community, especially if you want  to develop a practice from the ground up. In doing so, you will provide a launching point to proceed with the other two phases.

Network with Dentists

The next step, involves engaging yourself in a community through the development of relationships among fellow dentists in the area. Not only for the purpose of rapport, but also for guidance regarding the tricks of the trade that might be specific to the intricacies of that community or with regards to various procedures or techniques. To do so, you should utilize the opportunities provided by the ADA through involvement in local and regional organized dentistry. Beyond the ADA, you can seek opportunities for group study or peer review to obtain an enhanced personal appraisal of your work and skillset within a different dental environment. Moreover, such bonds will create a foundation for successful and harmonious business transactions in the future such as providing opportunities for referrals. This can help to create a more seamless transition into the economic climate of that community.

Promotional Products

Lastly, you should develop promotional products to provide a basis for raising awareness of your clinic and quality care in a given community. Pens, t-shirts, toothbrushes or giving away small holiday gifts is a simple and proactive approach to showing appreciation and gratitude towards your patient base, while simultaneously fostering the presence of your practice within the community. With a quick online search, plethora promotional companies are available to meet any promotional needs. However, many local companies are frequently and abundantly willing to provide promotional products for a reasonable price. In this way, you’ll be participating in your community and securing promotional products in one stroke.

Easier said than done, establishing yourself as an up-and-coming dentist in a community can be a demanding challenge facing new dentists. For those who dive into developing their own practice, time and energy should be allocated towards the development of a unique niche within a specific locality. Not only to intelligently engage in the supply and demand of a particularly community, but to determine the most advantageous way to serve the people of that community and fill any needs that may be unmet. Thus, by developing a system to establish yourself in a community through identifying a target group, building relationships with cohorts, and creating promotional products for your patients, being a new dentist in a community can be a far less intimidating and overwhelming endeavor.

~Brock Nelson, Nebraska ’17

Brock Nelsen

Brock Nelsen is a D2 at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Originally from Sioux Falls, SD, he enjoys the outdoors in his free time and also has a strong passion for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

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