Industry Trends: a Generational Shift Leads Younger Dentists to DSOs

August 15, 2022

According to recent statistics, fewer dentists are working as solo practitioners and are instead joining DSOs at a rising rate. This may be because older dentists are aging out of the profession, and millennial dentists are taking their places. In fact, it's estimated that by 2030, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. These younger dentists are entering their careers with different priorities and challenges than their predecessors and finding more support and opportunities in group practices. Continue reading to learn more about why this industry shift matters and how you can tailor your practice to a new generation of dentists.

Millennial Dentists Seek Financial Stability

The primary reason many millennial dentists are seeking employment at DSOs is a lack of access to capital. Research shows younger generations across all industries are far less financially secure and have substantially fewer savings than their parents or grandparents did at the same age. The rising cost of dental school tuition and increasing interest rates also mean that dental students, in particular, are strapped with large amounts of student loan debt from the moment they graduate. Studies show that only 17% of dental school graduates in the Class of 2021 reported no student loan debt. In addition, the average educational debt for all indebted dental school graduates in the Class of 2021 was $301,583, with the average for public and private schools at $261,226 and $354,901, respectively. The financial burden of dental school means few young dentists are able to afford to invest in private practices or start their own businesses. Instead, many seek the stability and growth opportunities that DSOs can provide them right out of school.

Prioritizing Culture to Attract Younger Generations

Because millennials might soon make up most of your organization, it may be important to reexamine different facets of your business to attract and retain this new generation and stand out from your competition. According to the Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and millennial survey, good work-life balance and learning/development opportunities were the top priorities amongst younger job-seekers. Surveyors were also willing to turn down job offers that didn't align with their values. Millennials and Gen Z are looking for companies that prioritize culture. They are less likely to tolerate employers who don't actively foster a positive working environment. They're also looking for a sense of belonging and the opportunity to feel like they're performing meaningful work.

In the dental industry, and particularly in the group practice space, this translates into younger dentists avoiding DSOs that will make them feel like a cog in the corporate machine. Many dentists leave corporate DSOs when they feel burnt out, overmanaged, and unconnected to their work. If you can mitigate these concerns, chances are you'll have better success finding good job candidates and cultivating a positive working environment. At Operation Dental, we founded our company on values that specifically address common DSO concerns. We prioritize people over profits and promote a servant leadership style of management. To learn more about our unique approach to group dentistry and why it makes a difference, read about our company here.

About Operation Dental
Operation Dental is a people-centric DSO built around a servant leadership culture. CEO Dr. Peter Kelly and COO Matt Robinson created a unique organization where dentists can focus on being great clinicians, building wealth, and achieving their business and life goals. Operation Dental supports dentists with the resources they need to succeed while empowering them to maintain the personality and patient experience of a private practice.


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