Dental Associate vs. Boss


Dentists Prefer Being in Charge to Being a Dental Associate

Three-quarters of dentists would rather be their own boss than work for someone else, according to a recent survey by The Wealthy Dentist. Evidently, being in charge beats being a dental associate.

July 19, 2008 (San Francisco, California) Dentists prefer being in charge to working for somebody else, according to a recent poll by dental practice marketing resource The Wealthy Dentist. Fully 76% of dentists said they would rather be their own boss than work for someone else.

Specialists were unanimous: being your own boss is better. Not a single dental specialist responding to this survey said they would prefer to be an associate. On the other hand, 28% of general dentists think associateship is an excellent plan.

Many dentists feel it’s better to be in charge. "I didn't go to dental school for four years to be somebody's employee!" said an Oregon dentist. Whether it’s a dentist boss, dental board restrictions, or tight-fisted dental insurance companies, dentists often resent the limits placed upon them.

"I have done both," said a California dentist. "There are headaches either way. But I would much rather have the headaches of an owner, and the power to make changes, than to be subject to the whims of an employer dentist."

However, working as a dental associate can be good for a dentist early in his or her career. "Initially it is good to get some experience as an associate, as the business side of running an office is not an area that you are concentrating on when in school learning about dental disease," advised an Arizona dentist. "Observe and learn the business and about the real world of practicing dentistry while as an associate. But ultimately, being your own boss is ideal, even though it can
be stressful."

But with freedom comes responsibility, and some associate dentists prefer focusing more on practicing dentistry and less on practice management. "At some point, I want to change my role and be an employee without the worries of the business," said a Tennessee dentist.

Dental practice management is critically important, yet it’s just what some dentists would most like to avoid. "What if you could have both?" asked a California dentist. "Have your own business, be your own boss, and have a professional management company do all the business/marketing, etc., so you could focus on dentistry?"

It all comes down to finding the right personal balance. "I'm a working mom doing full time work in 3.5 days a week," said an Illinois dentist. ‘That is all the work I want. I’ve had my own practice, and now I am a partner. I think I have the best of both worlds."

"Dentists are an independent bunch," said Jim Du Molin, dental practice management consultant and founder of dental continuing education website The Wealthy Dentist. "Of course they’d rather be the boss! Unfortunately for them, managing a dental practice requires more than just dental expertise."


Visit for more Wealthy Dentist survey results on topics such as cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, sedation dentistry,
, wisdom teeth, and braces. Plus, sign up for Jim Du Molin's free video training program on dental website marketing.


Jim Du Molin

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