Which DSO is best and how to get hired by them: Six simple rules to follow!

May 9, 2018
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Dental Support Organizations (DSOs) are not all cut from the same cloth, and I can guarantee you 100% of them are imperfect, so navigating your way to the best DSO for you is most definitely a personal journey. As an opportunity seeker, you must begin your journey with a strong understanding of your values, motivations and career goals in order to decide which DSO hits the mark. Simple questions like: What type of dentistry do you enjoy or not enjoy doing? What do you want to accomplish in your first few years in dentistry? Do you want to be an owner one day? Are you okay with committing to a year, two or three or do you prefer no “lock-in” terms? What type of support do you want and how well does the DSO meet those needs? Does the culture & values of the company match your own? etc. These are questions that require clear answers as you begin your journey to the best DSO for you. As rule of thumb, if you find an opportunity that is an 80% match or better then you’ve got a winner. But how do you truly know how well the opportunity matches up? In order to get an accurate picture you have to be willing to do the work. The first four rules below will help you decide which DSO fits best with your needs, and the last two involve enhancing your chances of getting your foot in the door and being hired by the DSO you prefer.

Rule #1: Don’t just listen to the recruiter. Although the recruiter can be a wealth of information, your best measure will come from the doctors currently working there. So setting up shadow or observation days is important and will give you a real picture and real information on what to expect. First-hand information is most valuable. You should start shadowing and observing early in dental school. Don’t leave this for the interview process during your 4th year! It would be a mistake to do so.

Rule #2: Leverage your peers for information. Many of your colleagues may have been employed by the DSO you are considering. Question them to gather information about their experience – good and bad – to provide valuable and trusted Intel. Additionally, don’t give credence to the naysayers who have never worked in a DSO before. The best quality of information will come from those with direct experience.

Rule #3: Ask the difficult questions. Don’t be shy to challenge representatives from the DSO you are considering about the overall satisfaction of doctors/employees, the financial health performance of the office and the opportunities and challenges the office is facing; what they need from the prospective employee to turn things around or keep things on the upward trend. Most reputable DSOs operate transparently and are willing to share relevant metrics with you.

Rule #4: Be honest with yourself. Don’t get caught trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. If there’s something that comes up in your evaluation process that creates some concern, address it before deciding to accept an offer. Don’t let the lure of money compromise your position in a way that will ultimately make you feel uncomfortable. Small things become big things fast!

So now that you’ve collected the information you need in order to make the best decision about which employer makes the most sense for you, you now have to land the opportunity. The next two rules will enhance your chance of success.

Rule #5: Have some flexibility. Sometimes the best opportunity might not be in your top location, but may be fairly close and a good stepping stone to your ideal location in the near future. It’s usually better to do the type and quality of dentistry that you want in a supportive and positive environment where you will learn and develop quality skills in a less desirable location, rather than accept an opportunity that’s a misfit for you, but in your top location. Joining a DSO with established and sustained growth combined with a track record of developing doctors will provide greater opportunities.

Rule #6: Operate with purpose and urgency! Once you find something that fits, don’t delay in making a decision. Remember an 80% match or better can be hard to come by. So when you find it, be ready to jump on it. The market place is a highly competitive one, and a delay could cost you the job, and then your remaining choices will be less than ideal opportunities. Remember many of the best DSOs are hiring new grads around December and January, and most definitely before the end of March. Do your prep and start your search early and be ready to take action quickly!