Dentists have to make many big decisions about their first years in practice, from what type of employment model they would prefer to how many vacation days they get. Many of these career considerations need to be negotiated in the employment contract — a process that, for new dentists, may seem overwhelming or confusing.

To help you start thinking about those decisions, we outlined a few of the most important considerations below.

Decide which employment model is best for you.

There are two types of employment — traditional private practice and corporate dentistry, also known as a Dental Servicing Organization (DSO). A traditional private practice is a dental practice that can have one or more locations. Benefits include autonomy, potential ownership, control of schedule, patient care and treatment. Cons include administrative time and costs, as well as regulatory compliance.

DSOs can have anywhere between two and a hundred offices that share the management of the non-clinical aspects of operating a dental office. Benefits include fewer administrative duties, more time practicing dentistry, no need to worry about regulatory compliance and a better work-life balance. Cons include less autonomy over schedule and treatment of patients, and potentially less money long term.

Consider the different forms of compensation and determine which appeals to you.

Compensation can take several basic forms and can be defined in several ways in a dental associate employment contract:

  • Salary
  • Production: Gross or Adjusted
  • Collection
  • Bonus

Benefits are also an important part of the total compensation package. They can include health benefits, retirement benefits, vacation/time-off and continuing education. When negotiating your compensation, keep the overall benefit package in mind in addition to the annual salary.

Before you sign, have an experienced attorney review your employment contract.

We like to say that when it comes to employment contracts, the devil is in the details. Having an experienced attorney look over the contract will make sure you are aware of the provisions that will impact you the most. Always be cautious, make sure you understand the whole document before signing and do your due diligence to investigate prospective employers.

Should you need a referral for an employment law attorney, you can contact Al Anthony Mercado, Esq., of Fager, Amsler, Keller & Schoppman, LLP, at or (516) 508-4201.

Consider joining regional, state and national organizations representing the dental profession.

No matter where you settle or what type of employment you choose, joining member organizations can be an important part of your career journey. Organizations like the American Dental Association, the New York State Dental Association and local district societies offer dentists a chance to network with other dental professionals in the area. These organizations not only serve as connections, but they also provide support, member benefits and resources — which are particularly important during challenging times.

For more information on employment contracts, read our blog on the topic, Employment Contract Provisions Dentists Must Review Before Signing.

This article is part of our series, “Tips for New Dentists.” Click here to read other articles in the series or check out more topics on our blog! We also encourage you to visit our resources page for information related to COVID-19, New York State Executive Orders and more. If you’re interested in applying for professional liability coverage, dentists can do so online.