Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What Can an Associate Dentist Earn in Different Parts of the United States?

Last year we ran an article about how much Associate Dentists make across the United States.  The data provided was from the Dental Economics Annual Practice Survey.  This week I took an informal poll of our recruiters to learn about the current trends in compensation structures across various regions of the United States

Very important to note the following:
  • Most of our experience is with private or local group practices
  • These compensation averages are based on what we typically see in the market place, so what you may see or hear could potentially be higher or lower. 
  • Income based on percentages is relative to what will be produced/collected, so it is not necessarily fair to compare offers solely based on the percentage paid
  • The more saturated an area, the lower the percentages and average income will typically be for a doctor. However, this is not a universal fact, just likelihood.
  • These numbers were based on doctors with 1 to 5 years of experience
  • We understand the ever-present debate of collections versus production.  What we see is greater than 4 out of 5 practices pay on a collections-based system.
  • We are only talking about Associate Dentists’ income levels.  Not all dentists.  Owners absolutely make more income.  For example, Department of Labor statistics will be significantly higher than what is listed below. 

General Average of Doctors with 1 to 5 years of clinical experience

Total Annual Compensation
Percentage of Collections/Production
Base minimum or guaranteed salary
Other points of note
New England and North East U.S.
35% of collections
Lab expense of 35-50%
South Eastern  and Mid-Atlantic U.S.
30-33% of collections
$110,000 to $120,000 per year; $500/day
Equivalent lab percentage
Midwest and Great Lakes
$130,000 to $140,000
30-33% of collections
$120,000 per year; $500/day
Equivalent lab percentage up to 50%
Great Plains and Rockies
$130,000 to $150,000
30% of collections
$500/day; $120,000/year
If a practice charges lab it will be equivalent to percentage up to 50%
Texas / Oklahoma / New Mexico
$130,000 to $150,000
25-30% of collections
$500-$600/day; $120,000 to $130,000 per year
Rarely seeing any lab fee charged to the associate in recent years
Western Seaboard
25-30% of collections
$400 to $500 per day
50/50 chance the practice charges any amount of lab to the doctor. If they do it is equivalent up to 50%.

Multi-state and National Dental organizations do vary from some of the above, but only in some ways.  Overall, they offer a strong base salary in the area of $120,000 to $145,000 per year, depending on experience.  They pay a percentage of collections/productions that ranges from 25% to 33%.  Some pay the same percentage regardless of the level of production, while others will offer a tiered scale that increases the paid percentage for levels of production/collections that are met.  For example: up to $40,000 = 25%; $40,001 to $50,000 = 27%...  These organizations more often than not offer a full complement of benefits such as 401k, malpractice, medical insurance, CE, etc. 

Overall, what you see here is fairly similar earning amounts across the country.  However, the way doctors are paid varies from the Northeast over to the Northwest.  Something to consider when you are looking for your next practice opportunity.

Posted by Carl Guthrie, Senior Dentist Recruitment Consultant with ETS Dental. To find out more, call Carl at (540) 491-9104 or email at

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Qualities of a Great Leader in a Dental Practice

As many experienced dentists know, learning and applying the technical aspects of dentistry is only half of what it takes to be successful. Whether a doctor is running his or her own solo practice or working as an associate alongside many others, leadership plays an enormous role in setting the course for your professional career as well as the future of your practice as a whole.

Here are some leadership qualities we often see successful dentists portray in their own practices:
  1. Have a clear vision - If a patient were to walk into your practice a year from today, what would be different? What about five years? Or ten? Having a written, clearly-defined vision for your practice not only help set future goals and objectives for sustaining and improving patient care, but it also gives your dental team a target to shoot for each and every day.
  2. Get your team motivated - Motivate your team in a style that matches the vision of your practice. Setting clear goals and measuring success through performance targets is a great way to increase productivity and keep everyone on task. Learn how your team responds to different stimuli as well. If you sense your morning routines are becoming drab and motivation is low, consider having special days, change in dress, or activities that involve patients to help shake things up. 
  3. Don’t settle for less – With competition at an all-time high in the dental industry, now is not the time to sit back and coast when it comes to providing excellent care each and every time a patient is in the chair. Excelling in all areas of your practice, from friendly customer service when a patient walks in the door to the dental treatment itself and your own bedside manner, will all play pivotal roles in determining the success of your practice.
  4. Continuing education = continuing success – Continue to challenge yourself to grow professionally and personally every day. Whether its books and articles, classes, or professional peer groups, find a way to continually develop and hone your leadership skills.
  5. Be a good example – When it comes to your actions, attitude, and reactions, how you control your own emotions will become a clear indicator of how the rest of your team should control theirs. Maintaining a positive energy and treating each team member with respect are key elements in developing your role as a successful leader.
  6. Clearly communicate your expectations – This is an area where many dentists (and bosses in general) really struggle. Developing great policies and procedures for your practice is great in theory, but if none of those ideas and expectations are communicated effectively, they become useless. Reinforce your expectations in employee handbooks, morning huddles, and one-on-one meetings with staff regularly. Hearing the same expectations daily reiterates their importance and helps keep everyone on-track.
Becoming an effective leader doesn’t happen overnight, and it most certainly doesn’t come without intentional effort. How successful you are at becoming an effective leader ripples through every aspect of your dental practice, and can in many cases make or break the success of your team as a whole. With some patience and practice, though, any dentist can mature into a great leader and set their practice on course for many years of success and prosperity.

ETS Dental is a Dental Recruiting firm specializing in finding and placing General Dentists, Dental Specialists, and Dental Staff throughout the United States.