How Canadian Dentists can Thrive in Solo Practices
by Mashum Mollah Health Care Services 12 March 2020
It’s not cheap to establish a small dental office in Canada, even for solo practitioners. For the orthodontist in Calgary looking to launch a new practice, there is a range of necessary investments to consider, from costly equipment to supplies to staffing. With staffing alone you’re going to be paying a dental hygienist, and a receptionist.
It’s estimated that the estimated salary of the dental hygienist is over $75,000 per year, depending on how much experience they have. A certified dental assistant’s salary may vary from $30000 to $40000 per year and dental office receptionists may earn up to $40,000 each year. Add to that money for office rental, and you’re looking at some significant payments.
For these and other reasons, a solo practitioner needs to be able to generate lots of patient referrals. Even in a time of group practice, you can still thrive and do well as a solo dentist. But there are some things you’ll want to consider.
Know what services you’ll offer to your prospective patients, and how they’ll differ from what your competitors are providing:
If you’re located in a region in which lots of families live, perhaps general or family dentistry — caring for adults, children, and seniors — will be your forte. If your practice is located in an affluent area, maybe cosmetic dentistry is what you want to be known for. In a way, the cosmetic dentist is the “specialist” of the dental industry, charging a higher premium but targeting their services to people who are very appearance-conscious.
Stay on the cutting edge with newer treatments and technologies:
Dr. Vick Handa, a dentist in Burlington, Ontario, says that he has to continually learn new techniques to help lead a successful practice. As with any industry, there’s an ongoing need to be fully educated and to invest in new modalities to continue to provide patients with excellent oral care. By doing this, Handa is able to offer in his solo practice the same services larger practices and even dental chains provide. As he notes, it’s all about the patient.
Position yourself as a trusted health advisor to your patients:
Patients, says Handa, want to know that their dentist truly cares about their oral health. It’s a relationship-based practice, one in which patients return again and again, hopefully over the course of a lifetime. Plus, they’re a major source of new referrals. This means that your patients will help you cultivate and grow your practice by providing excellent word of mouth to other potential new patients. In today’s world of online business referral bulletin boards, this is crucial.
Create a friendly office culture:
In addition to providing each patient with a high level of care and expertise, you’ll do well to create a welcoming environment. Many people dread going to the dentist, even though there’s no need to be apprehensive or scared. But that’s the reputation dentistry has among a number of people. Handa suggests making your office a warm, friendly place to visit. This encompasses a lot of factors, from having a comfortable waiting room to hiring staff who share your patient-friendly values to developing your own “bedside manner.” Every person in your chair is going to have a positive or negative experience, and it’s up to you to make it as positive as possible — to the point where patients begin looking forward to their visits.