Decisions, decisions: Oral Surgeons have choices in today’s market

Oral and maxillofacial surgery is an attractive career for several reasons, one of which is the many possible routes an oral surgeon can take.

Dr. Richard Bauer said it well in an interview with the American Student Dental Association: “What makes oral surgery unique is how it incorporates dentistry and medicine. You have the ability to work in an office and in a hospital setting on a regular basis. Procedures can be done in the operating room or office...It adds variety to your practice and enables you to see a broad spectrum of patients on a daily basis.”

As an oral surgeon, you’ve already come a long way. After becoming a doctor of dental surgery, you completed your OMFS residency and board certification. It’s a long road, and it doesn’t end there. Whether you’re new to oral and maxillofacial surgery or have been in the game for years, it never hurts to assess your career options.

The joys of practice ownership

Students often go through dental school with visions of owning their own practices. The idea of being in charge of everything is compelling, and owning a business is a dream shared by many.

One of the first decisions a future business owner must make is whether to go into business solo or with a partner. In an article called “The Real Poop,” gives readers the low-down on what it takes to be an oral surgeon. The article notes that “a significant majority (seventy-one percent) of OMSs work as shareholders in incorporated practices. Which means all the decisions you make as a practice...are joint decisions.”

Regardless of your choice, owning a practice may seem like a daunting job. It’s true that it’s trying at times. But the combination of dental surgery and business ownership can be extremely rewarding.

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Getting started

If you’re just getting started, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) has an excellent checklist for opening a new practice. They recommend that oral surgeons start with site and demographics assessments, business and tax considerations, and licensing and insurance acquisition. The list continues, and it’s a good starting point for anyone considering practice ownership.

Getting patients

As a private-practice oral surgeon, many (if not all) of your patients will come from referrals from general dentists. In his article “7 Tips for Being an A-List Specialist” for SPEAR, Douglas Small discusses the importance of communication, collaboration and using your head (among other key efforts). Having a grasp on these concepts is extremely important, because an OMS has to impress both patients and referring dentists.

Getting help

A key area that practice owners have to deal with early and often is staffing. You may be a great surgeon, but you can’t do it all yourself. Although there are many considerations in running a business, I mention staffing here because it’s critical throughout the life of any practice.

Chad Halvorson of When I Work has compiled a list of several areas that need your attention and tips for making your practice successful. Halverson’s ideas would benefit any dental practice, and the big takeaway is this: “By taking strategies from other more business-oriented industries, dental practices can maximize their effectiveness...All it takes is a little re-imagining and some innovative thinking.”

All dental practices should take advantage of modern tools. That includes tools for hiring. When it comes time to hire dental professionals to support your work, it benefits you to leave the old, tired staffing agencies behind. That’s where Cloud Dentistry can help. The cloud-based platform helps you find qualified professionals at a fraction of the cost of a temp agency. And you can communicate directly with the professionals you want to know more about. Cutting out the middleman saves you time and money. That can benefit every area of your practice.

You most likely got into dental surgery for the clinical aspects and the joy of helping others. Whether your interests lie in wisdom teeth removal, other types of oral surgery or facial reconstruction, you’re an oral and maxillofacial surgeon above all else. Using the right tools to hire the right people leaves you free to do more of what you love.

Practice ownership isn’t a requirement

Practice ownership isn’t for everyone. The initial costs (both time-wise and money-wise) are high. Many dentists and specialists choose to forgo business ownership while they pay off debt and gain experience. Some decide not to own practices at all. After all, it’s not a requirement for success. One of the great things about dentistry is the ability to choose from a variety of work environments. Many oral and maxillofacial surgeons choose to work in other dentists’ offices, in physicians’ offices, in outpatient care centers or in hospitals. Saving practice ownership for later—or choosing a different route entirely—can be extremely rewarding.

With the gig economy in full swing and uncertainty in the world of healthcare reform, a growing number of dental professionals—dental surgeons included—are choosing to work for themselves. These professionals take on individual jobs to suit their schedule and location preferences. By working in temporary or contractor-type situations, oral surgeons are free to work as they choose, earning their income without the risks and expenses of business ownership.

Getting work

If the responsibilities of practice ownership aren’t for you, you may wonder where to look for employment. There are several options available to qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeons. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists dental offices, physicians’ offices, outpatient care centers and hospitals as popular choices. Oral surgeons who own practices may hire other surgeons on an as-needed basis, and general dentists may choose to insource surgical procedures.

One popular option is to work as a freelancer of sorts, putting together a work schedule that suits your unique situation. As a highly-sought professional, you can have the freedom to set your own rates and schedule, choose your own work environments and manage your own work/life balance. The key to all of this is building your brand and making yourself available to practices that need your expertise.

Cloud Dentistry allows you to do just that. Unlike traditional job placement agencies, this job-matching platform gives you a free profile to display your rates, schedule, qualifications and reviews. The service’s messaging tools allow you to communicate directly with your potential clients, practices that may hire you on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons can have flexibility

There are so many routes you can take as an OMS. Flexibility is just one of the many attractive aspects of the job. Whether you choose to own a practice or strike out on your own, Cloud Dentistry can help you succeed in your venture.

Dr. Reza Sanjar is a co-founder of Cloud Dentistry, LLC and co-owner of Dental Art in Katy, Texas. His years of experience as a dentist and dental practice owner give him unique insights that inform the practices of Cloud Dentistry. A graduate of Boston University and Washington University in St. Louis, Dr. Sanjar has been practicing dentistry since 2009. He knows the industry well and is pleased to bring the benefits of Cloud Dentistry to other dental practices and dental professionals.

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