What’s the starting salary for a new grad at a DSO? I graduate in less than 9 months! It’s a scary world right now.

Jul 31, 2015
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Hello ,

I graduate from dental school in about 9 months. I’ll roughly have 350k worth of student debt. I was wondering what the new grad dentist salary is like working for a DSO. I’m from the Northern Virginia (Arlington) , DC, Potomac Maryland area. I don’t mind working 7 days a week if I have to. I worked during dental school on weekdays and weekends, I have that hustle immigrant mentality.

I’m planning on working for corporate for a year and living in the basement with my parents :). My parents are pretty well off financially and aren’t asking for anything in return. They’ve said they don’t expect me to pay them any rent, food or anything, they want me to pretty much pay off my student loans and buy a practice ASAP. They’re also planning to buy me a new car for my graduation, so I really don’t see my self spending any money on my self in terms of car payments or other nice things (let’s just say I’m really cheap:)) I’m really thankful for the position I am in.

I’m planning on saving every penny I’m making because I won’t really have any expenses other than gas money and my monthly student loan which I’ve already calculated. I plan to pay off my student loan in 15 years because I’d like to have some liquidity in my bank account (For banks to see) to buy a practice after a year of working at a DSO .(I also make some passive income from my Instagram account)

I plan to save roughly $50k~ my first year out and buy a practice in that area.
What do you guys think?
 
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Molar Whisperer

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I think you are lucky and smart to live with your folks. I lived with my folks until I was 31 rent free. Save and live as cheap as you can. I wished I would have known about passive income from real estate sooner. Income from dentistry is getting harder due to decreased insurance/PPO payouts. Since you are still young, you maybe more open and think outside the box for possible side businesses (look for Cold Front's posts). Working for DSO (starting at about $120k to $150k) will not make you rich so focus on getting more efficient at crowns, implants, dentures, extractions, and root canals.
 
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Pablo Sanchez

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Not sure I can answer your question, but if you put into action your words, you'll certainly end up accomplishing your goals. You can definitely have that loan paid off and have a successful practice in under 15 years.
 
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theleatherwalle

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I would move from the area if I were you. That is an extremely saturated area going off of a friend who practices in Arlington. I am curious what offers you'd get but I would assume 32 hours (4 day) and 80-100k. Aspen and many DSO will likely begin recruiting you soon. I would take the highest offer, get as productive as you can and begin saving for a practice.
 
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Dion

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Hello ,

I graduate from dental school in about 9 months. I’ll roughly have 350k worth of student debt. I was wondering what the new grad dentist salary is like working for a DSO. I’m from the Northern Virginia (Arlington) , DC, Potomac Maryland area. I don’t mind working 7 days a week if I have to. I worked during dental school on weekdays and weekends, I have that hustle immigrant mentality.

I’m planning on working for corporate for a year and living in the basement with my parents :). My parents are pretty well off financially and aren’t asking for anything in return. They’ve said they don’t expect me to pay them any rent, food or anything, they want me to pretty much pay off my student loans and buy a practice ASAP. They’re also planning to buy me a new car for my graduation, so I really don’t see my self spending any money on my self in terms of car payments or other nice things (let’s just say I’m really cheap:)) I’m really thankful for the position I am in.

I’m planning on saving every penny I’m making because I won’t really have any expenses other than gas money and my monthly student loan which I’ve already calculated. I plan to pay off my student loan in 15 years because I’d like to have some liquidity in my bank account (For banks to see) to buy a practice after a year of working at a DSO .(I also make some passive income from my Instagram account)

I plan to save roughly $50k~ my first year out and buy a practice in that area.
What do you guys think?

Umar, I advise against working more than 5 days a week. The professional is hard work and you should minimize the chances of burning out. There are plenty of ways that you can pay down your student loans without overworking yourself. There are plenty of well-paying dental jobs that you can choose from. Look on indeed.com or ihiredental.com. On these sites you will find good opportunities. Also, you should consider working at a FQHC. They do student loan repayment and offer nice benefits. You can also apply for the NHSC or military loan repayments
 
Jul 31, 2015
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7
I would move from the area if I were you. That is an extremely saturated area going off of a friend who practices in Arlington. I am curious what offers you'd get but I would assume 32 hours (4 day) and 80-100k. Aspen and many DSO will likely begin recruiting you soon. I would take the highest offer, get as productive as you can and begin saving for a practice.

I’ve seen a few practices for sale in this area. Collecting 1+ million with low overhead in the low 60s. Assuming the dentist takes home close to 400k.

one thing that concerns me with this area I guess is the sale of the practice. In terms that it would sell close to 100% of gross collections rather than the traditional 60-80% of gross collections because of the area it’s in.
My family is pretty much the only reason I don’t want to move away from the area. I’ve spent the past 10 years away at college and both of my parents are now in there mid 60s and I’d like to spend as much time as I can with them.
 
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Jul 31, 2015
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Umar, I advise against working more than 5 days a week. The professional is hard work and you should minimize the chances of burning out. There are plenty of ways that you can pay down your student loans without overworking yourself. There are plenty of well-paying dental jobs that you can choose from. Look on indeed.com or ihiredental.com. On these sites you will find good opportunities. Also, you should consider working at a FQHC. They do student loan repayment and offer nice benefits. You can also apply for the NHSC or military loan repayments
Do you think maybe one should should work at a DSO for 6 months and then try to buy a practice ASAP? Higher income with owning the practice meaning extra money to pay off the loans faster?

but than my question would be is 6 months enough for a new grad to kind of build up some speed in order to be able to produce enough?

the business aspect of dentistry I’m pretty good at. I’ve worked at a dental office since freshmen year of college. I spend a lot of my free time reading dental business related articles, podcast. Also created a business club at my school and have spoken to multiple dental consultants, accountants etc.

The speed and quality is the only thing that worries me in terms of clinical dentistry.
 
Jul 31, 2015
6
7
I think you are lucky and smart to live with your folks. I lived with my folks until I was 31 rent free. Save and live as cheap as you can. I wished I would have known about passive income from real estate sooner. Income from dentistry is getting harder due to decreased insurance/PPO payouts. Since you are still young, you maybe more open and think outside the box for possible side businesses (look for Cold Front's posts). Working for DSO (starting at about $120k to $150k) will not make you rich so focus on getting more efficient at crowns, implants, dentures, extractions, and root canals.

I live in Loudoun county which is the county with the highest median income in the US. But the area is saturated because everyone and there mother wants to move here. Does living in an area where pt’s have a very high income and cost of living is expensive translate to a higher starting salary?
 
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Hello ,

I graduate from dental school in about 9 months. I’ll roughly have 350k worth of student debt. I was wondering what the new grad dentist salary is like working for a DSO. I’m from the Northern Virginia (Arlington) , DC, Potomac Maryland area. I don’t mind working 7 days a week if I have to. I worked during dental school on weekdays and weekends, I have that hustle immigrant mentality.

I’m planning on working for corporate for a year and living in the basement with my parents :). My parents are pretty well off financially and aren’t asking for anything in return. They’ve said they don’t expect me to pay them any rent, food or anything, they want me to pretty much pay off my student loans and buy a practice ASAP. They’re also planning to buy me a new car for my graduation, so I really don’t see my self spending any money on my self in terms of car payments or other nice things (let’s just say I’m really cheap:)) I’m really thankful for the position I am in.

I’m planning on saving every penny I’m making because I won’t really have any expenses other than gas money and my monthly student loan which I’ve already calculated. I plan to pay off my student loan in 15 years because I’d like to have some liquidity in my bank account (For banks to see) to buy a practice after a year of working at a DSO .(I also make some passive income from my Instagram account)

I plan to save roughly $50k~ my first year out and buy a practice in that area.
What do you guys think?
You are very fortunate to have 2 very awesome parents. Your parents are also very fortunate to have a good child like you. I hope my kids will think like you when they finish professional schools (if they get in).....like working 7 days/wk after graduation, being responsible for paying down the debt ASAP, planning to become a practice owner, living closer to the parents so you can spend time with them, putting your ego aside and continuing to live like student (by living in your parents' basement) to save money etc. For every extra day that you work in a week, you can bring home additional $25-30k per year. So with 7 work days a week, you will easily make $50-60k more than what your colleagues, who only work 5 days/week, make. With such hard work + living with your parents, you should be able to accomplish 2 things: become a practice owner and get rid of your $350k student loan in less than 5 years.

Right after dental school, my younger sister got married. Her husband and she moved in to live with our parents to save money. My sister helped our parents pay the monthly home mortgage, which was way less than if she had to rent an apartment. Our parents helped take care of her 2 kids (a new born and a 1.5 yo) and do other house works (cooking, grocery shopping, laundry etc) so she could work 7 days/week. She worked for a dental corp 4 days/wk and 3 days/wk at her own office that she built from scratch. After about 3 years of living with our parents, she bought a $500k house nearby so our parents could continue to babysit her kids. She later upgraded to a $800k house and paid it off in less than 5 years. Now at 48, she only works 3.5 days/week and only sees 5-6 patients a day. Her dental practice is declining because she doesn't put in a lot of time like she used to in the past. She doesn't need to make a lot because she is 100% debt -free. She also has passive income from her investment properties. Her eldest son is currently in a combined 8 year BS/MD program. She bought her son a 3 bed condo (paid in full)....also in Virginia. Her son rents out the other 2 bedrooms to his college roommates and lives off the rental money.
 
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schmoob

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I live in Loudoun county which is the county with the highest median income in the US. But the area is saturated because everyone and there mother wants to move here. Does living in an area where pt’s have a very high income and cost of living is expensive translate to a higher starting salary?
No, it’s an inverse relationship. Because so many people want to live there and practice there, the salaries are lower due to the saturation of dentists.
 
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Molar Whisperer

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No, it’s an inverse relationship. Because so many people want to live there and practice there, the salaries are lower due to the saturation of dentists.

I agree. I live in a very desirable area where we have mostly dual income (both spouses) professionals, executives, and successful business owners. From my observations, many dentists in my area pre-Covid are not busy enough due to over-saturation. Also from numerous discussions, there are surprisingly many wealthy people that don't want to spend any money on their teeth.
 
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Dion

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Do you think maybe one should should work at a DSO for 6 months and then try to buy a practice ASAP? Higher income with owning the practice meaning extra money to pay off the loans faster?

but than my question would be is 6 months enough for a new grad to kind of build up some speed in order to be able to produce enough?

the business aspect of dentistry I’m pretty good at. I’ve worked at a dental office since freshmen year of college. I spend a lot of my free time reading dental business related articles, podcast. Also created a business club at my school and have spoken to multiple dental consultants, accountants etc.

The speed and quality is the only thing that worries me in terms of clinical dentistry.

I do think 6 months of full-time work as a dentist at a busy DSO will help you build confidence and speed. You still have a lot that you have to learn but you will be prepared to own a practice. Make sure you choose a job where you will have opportunities to do a wide scope of procedures. This will help you to determine what you like/dislike. In terms of buying a practice, I would say there is two ways to look at it since the coronavirus. On one hand, you probably might be able to buy a practice cheap since older dentists are probably trying to sell to avoid their business getting affected. On the other hand, if the virus spikes again and you own a practice as a new grad, it will take awhile for you to recover. I would say don't buy a practice now or within 1 year since there is uncertainty.
 
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OMSDoc

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So here is my take on the current dental graduate student loan debt:

Dental schools have increased "tuition", mostly to pay administrators, without any real increase in quality of instruction, over 35 years ago (i.e., my era).

They saddle you with so much debt, that you think you have to work for one of these soul-sucking DSOs.

Indeed, the schools bring in these DSO representatives to talk to the classes about the advantages of working for them.

Shame on them for selling you this pig-in-a-poke, and for telling you that you need to do this.

You don't.

If you are willing to go to a smaller town, and live a reasonable lifestyle for 5 years (which isn't a long time), you will do very well, and pay off this debt.

DSOs are the dark side...reach out with your feelings, Luke, and resist the dark side.
 
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schmoob

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I think it’s important to point out that there are some real sleazy private practice owners. They lowball you on reimbursements, outdated everything, expired materials, high patient fees, etc.

Corp May be the dark side but not all private practices are exactly Jedi material.
 
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Jul 31, 2015
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I think it’s important to point out that there are some real sleazy private practice owners. They lowball you on reimbursements, outdated everything, expired materials, high patient fees, etc.

Corp May be the dark side but not all private practices are exactly Jedi material.
Yes I’ve gotten some offers from a private practice that are ridiculous. Offering me 120k first year base. But DSO offering 150k+ in my area. On top Of that the private office doesn’t want to share his patients and wants me to do his hygiene and wait for new patients to walk in so I can work with them. That’s not possible when new grads have a 4K+ monthly loan payment to make.
 
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OMSDoc

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The way the world works is individuals pursuing their separate interests.

EVERYONE, including owners of the DSOs and private dental practitioners (solo and group) are pursuing their individual economic self-interests, just like you are. They are trying maximize the return on their investment. And this is actually a good thing, because this is really the only way that innovation occurs.

This is an aside, but even those who work for government health care bureaus, are incentivized to maximize their income also. When we go to "Medicare-for-all" in the United States, there will be a massive bureaucracy, whose employees will be looking after their own interests, and not the general good-will and welfare of the people.

As a new dentist, you will pay somehow. If you go to work for a DSO, they have made an investment to have a place for you to work, and they need to recoup that and receive some reward (profit). If you go into an existing practice, those owners have made an investment also, and they need to recoup that and receive some reward (profit).

I have seen it every way it can be done. My father (an OMS) told me, "Son, if you work for a DSO (or in a private practice, or in academics), its dog-eat-dog, but if you own your own practice, it's the other way around."

The advantage of opening and owning your own practice is that you have total control over the care given the patient. You reap all of the rewards. And, you carry all of the risk. No one (except the market) can tell you how many assistants you can have, what kind of equipment you can use, whether you have to use expired materials, etc. But you will pay. When I opened my own solo practice (and I built it from scratch), I had to borrow $400,000, and pay it back in 5 years.

If I were coming out now, with between $350,000 and $650,000 in debt, and I was going into practice as an associate with someone, I would tell them that I could not buy "goodwill", and that I could only purchase a portion of the hard assets. If I was purchasing the practice outright, I would only buy the hard assets.

If the owners refused, I would go to a place, anyplace, that needed a dentist, and open my own practice. I have a colleague who did this. He started a pediatric practice with one dental chair, with his wife answering the phone and being his assistant, and he grew from there.

I would not work for a DSO unless there were no other options.
 
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