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Questions to ask when looking for a job

Dental students of all ages and from every school have at least one thing in common: They know they want to work as dentists. What many don’t know, however, is where they want to work or if they’re making the right decisions as they shop around for career options. The key to a successful job hunt and an informed decision is so simple that it can be summarized in two words: Ask questions.

Dental students should assemble a list of critical questions and pose them to every job opportunity they consider. Take note of the responses and compare them. The importance of asking the same questions during each recruiting discussion or interview cannot be understated. A dental student might be inclined to pose different questions in conversation with a DSO-supported practice versus a private practice, but doing so will prevent that student from performing an accurate apples-to-apples comparison on which they can base a decision.

Both practices might offer professional development and mentorship, for example, but a detailed question such as “What exactly does your mentorship program look like?” may yield vastly different responses that warrant comparison. One practice may offer, “Dr. Singh will look over your shoulder during your first extraction,” whereas another practice might have a formal, organized and in-depth growth program.

One popular question posed during many recruiting interviews is often phrased incorrectly. Dental students regularly ask, “Am I paid based on production?” This is a crucial question, but the question should be: “If I’m paid based on production, am I paid based on my production or total office production?” An offer that might appear superior may yield significantly less earnings if the providers’ earnings or profit-sharing are based on individual production. This is especially concerning for a young dentist, who may be kept away from performing lucrative procedures for purely financial reasons. (That’s an excellent question to ask, too.)

Even simple questions may yield crucial information that can push a decision one way or another. Most students know of the possibility of a restrictive covenant in a job offer, but not every student truly understands the impact of such a restriction. If a dentist accepts an offer with a restrictive covenant, that dentist may be legally obligated to work outside a designated geographical area for a potentially lengthy period should that dentist leave the practice. The implications of this question could restrict future decisions regarding home and office location, commuting, transportation and even state licensure. Ask about and compare restrictive covenant details.

To best understand a potential work environment, dental students should consider asking about relevant policies regarding other team members. For example, “How are hygienists compensated?” might reveal more about the practice’s methods than reviewing a profit and loss statement. If one practice guarantees hygienists’ hours and another practice does not, this could be indicative of an ownership mindset or office culture that conflicts with your preferences.

Aspen Dental has opened its doors to dental student questions and made immediate, direct and accessible communication with clinicians a simple reality. With over 20 live Ask-Me-Anything sessions per week, Aspen Dental is actively encouraging dental students to ask any questions regarding working within the Aspen network, live (non-video) and anonymously (if desired). Dental students are never more than a day or two away from posing questions to an Aspen Dental dentist. Simply register for a live Ask-Me-Anything session and bombard the doctor with questions. No question is off-limits, and responses will be immediate and genuine. Just be sure to ask those same questions in conversations with other opportunities.

Review a recent student-oriented session, “I’m a 2020 grad, and I chose Aspen Dental. Ask me why!” here.

~Dr. Joel Lowsky, Ed.D., Aspen Dental Management

This blog post was sponsored by Aspen Dental Management.

Dr. Joel Lowsky

Dr. Joel Lowsky, Ed.D., is Aspen Dental Management’s director of academic and industry relations. Since he joined ADMI in 2018, the academic team has hosted over 500 events with dental students, and over 1,000 recently graduated dentists have accepted positions at dentist-owned practices within the Aspen network.

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