Pros and Cons of Joining a Larger Dental Practice

Having your own practice has a lot of rewards. But joining with a well run larger practice, like Dental Partners of Boston, has some perks you won't get by yourself. If you're deciding whether to take a spot in a large practice with several dentists working together here are some pros and cons of that kind of arrangement you should weigh before making your decision.
Patient acquisition and referrals
Pro Finding and holding onto patients is a constant concern in the dental business. In a full service practice, marketing is done primarily for the office as a whole. This means it probably won't be something you have to worry about on a regular basis. Additionally, you'll have a built in source of referrals from the other dentists in your office. This is good for patients too, since they get a one-stop source for their dental care.
Con On the other hand, this could cost you the opportunity to build relationships with potential patients. And of course the other side of the coin of getting referrals is the expectation that you'll give them to your in-office colleagues, whether you think they do good work or not. If you specialize in an essential kind of dental work in a good sized market, such as periodontal surgery in Philadelphia and you're good at what you do, referrals won't be a problem.
Pro Joining a group of dentists means you won't have to handle rent and other overhead costs alone. It's almost always cheaper to share a larger space than rent a small one by yourself. Additionally, there will most likely be staff to handle your books, which will allow you to focus on your patients and professional development as a health care provider.
Con Depending on the arrangement of the firm, this could also mean you won't own anything in the practice and therefore won't have any equity that will benefit you when you choose to retire or are looking to get a home loan. It's also likely that your office will have across the board pricing for procedures. You'll have to stick with this price schedule, whether you think it's too low or too high.
Office policies
Pro Most dentists adjust policies about billing, procedures, and staff as problems arise. This is because they're learning many aspects of running a business as they go. With a team of dentists you have the advantage of several sources of experience working together and the ability for each to focus on areas of strength and greatest interest.
Con On the other hand, within a team of highly educated professionals, ego and personality will inevitably create friction in decision making. Decisions you make will often be second guessed. Managing by committee is never easy. In your own practice, when you make a decision, the discussion is over.
Of course there are many other factors to consider in choosing a practice, but these may give you some useful questions to ask up front. Also keep in mind that it's generally easier to find an established small dental practice for sale than get into a large partnership. Many large practices allow dentists a greater level of flexibility over their work. Also, partnering with one other dentist can give you many of the perks of a team without all the potential drawbacks.