Understanding and Evaluating Associateship Opportunities
Recruiting Strategies and Tips in DSOs

Course Author(s): David G. Dunning, MA, PhD; Robert D. Madden, DDS, MBA

Recruiting Strategies and Tips in DSOs

With an increasing number of dentists being trained, coupled with mounting student debt and changing demographics, the opportunities for newly minted dentists have been drastically altered. As of a few years ago, approximately 50% of all new graduates entered practice upon graduation,34 though of late there seems to been a significant uptick in that percentage, probably in part because of increasing student loan debt. New graduates, on average, leave dental school with at least ~$225,000 or more in educational debt, making it virtually impossible to open a solo practice or purchase a practice. While variable lending institutions are also more reticent to loan money for a practice purchase without the borrower having at least some private practice experience, one viable alternative for many young dentists is to become employed by a DSO.

The hiring process will vary from company to company. Still, an associate candidate can reasonably expect multiple interview steps during the process. Do not come to any interview empty-handed. Be prepared! Since some interviews may be in a group setting, it is a good idea to bring multiple copies of your curriculum vitae (CV). Furthermore, know your CV inside and out! Also do not forget to bring copies of your dental credentials, diploma, pertinent dental certification certificates, national board exam results, any state licenses, and DEA information. Multiple copies of each are recommended. Do your due diligence. Know what you can offer the company. Have your own questions prepared. As previously discussed, it is imperative to know your personal budgetary needs. A personal budget will help you assess and ask questions about compensation. Have a good idea as to your deal makers and deal breakers prior to entering the interview. Be willing to openly discuss those issues during the interview.

Recruiters typically look for the same qualities most other dental professionals look for in finding an associate dentist. The following is a list of suggestions which may enhance employment opportunities especially in DSOs.

  1. Research the company with which you wish to interview. Study the information about company mission/vision/values available online, and network with current and former associate employees, if possible, to find out as much about the company as you can.
  2. Recruiters are evaluated by the quality of the hire. Therefore, you need to get noticed. Generally this is readily accomplished by dressing in business-professional attire when attending recruiting events. Don’t be shy. Let your personality shine. Ask good questions. Finally, take time to personally introduce yourself to the recruiter. Let him/her know you are very interested in their company. Give your business card.
  3. Timing is everything - start the process early. Positions are highly competitive. Recruiters have quotas to fill. Once those quotas are satisfied, employment opportunities obviously plummet.
  4. Develop a good relationship with the recruiter. Remember, recruiters do not do the hiring. Hiring managers do the hiring. However, recruiters do make recommendations based upon what they know and like about potential candidates.