Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Practice Ownership by Young Dentists Continues to Decline


For the second day in a row, we've got a post dealing with the ADA's Health Policy Institute and some of the pretty incredible data they've analyzed.

It's no secret in the industry that the influx and influence of corporate dentistry has grown tremendously in the last 20 or so years.  It's also a well known fact that the average debt of a student graduating from dental school is over $275K.  

Even if you are not in the profession, I'm sure you can appreciate what it must be like to graduate with debt approaching $300,000 and then needing to go to a bank to borrow even more money in order to open a practice.  Even though many banks consider dentistry a good risk and are wiling to lend young practitioners the money needed to start a practice from scratch, the stress of that much debt often frightens young graduates and they look for opportunities other than starting from scratch.

For many of those dentists their only choice is to become an employee of a corporate dental chain in order to try and service their student loan debt.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, this is a double edged sword.  The plus is that they can earn a decent living and also be able to pay down their student loans.  The minus is that they become used to a decent living and the prospect of leaving that comfortable existence to strike out on your own while also taking a pay cut for a bit while you build your practice can be pretty disconcerting.  Many end up staying even though their original plan may have been to own their own office after effectively paying down their student loans.

This is borne out by the data from a recent analysis from the ADA HPI.  According to the recent findings, the number of dentists that own their own practice has declined over the past 20 years and continues to do so.  

The numbers are interesting, to say the least.  For instance, in 2005 49% of dentists younger than 35 years of age owned their own practice whereas in 2019 that number was 30.7%.  That's a decrease of 18.3% which is pretty stunning to me.

The American Dental Association provides a ton of great support for the profession and the HPI is just one small part of that.  This is just one of the many reasons I'm a huge supporter of the ADA.

The numbers are laid out in a really nice graphic available to view or download.  Follow this link.  As with most things from the ADA, you will most likely need your ADA login info to access it.

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