A New Grad’s Guide to Establishing a Practice

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Dentaltown Magazine

A New Grad’s Guide to Establishing a Practice

Establishing your own dental practice might be easier than you think—especially if you take it one step at a time. Use this outline—adapted from Benco Dental’s publication “Independence Guide: Setting Up Your Dental Practice”—as a reference when breaking down the process into manageable steps.

9–12 Months Before Office Opening
[] Evaluate your personal financial position.
[] Identify your personal goals and preferences for a practice.
[] Develop a personal budget.
[] Evaluate potential practice alternatives in relation to your personal goals, preferences and needs.
[] Develop a philosophy of practice.
[] Conduct a preliminary appraisal of communities and a demographic analysis.
[] Evaluate alternative locations within the community.
[] Finalize the selection of a city/community.
[] Review leases with attorney.
[] Confirm that the location meets all zoning requirements.

8 Months Before Office Opening
[] Choose a local broker who has medical/dental expertise.
[] Select an attorney and a certified public accountant.
[] Conduct a preliminary appraisal of practice locations.
[] Select site.
[] Obtain estimates for remodeling.
[] Obtain, review, negotiate and sign the lease with the assistance of an attorney or lease negotiator.
[] Develop space plan and equipment layout.
[] Develop a list of major equipment needed.
[] Determine a desired delivery system.

7 Months Before Office Opening
[] Apply for a loan.
[] Develop a preliminary loan package with the help of your lender, who should provide you with a checklist to make the process smooth.
[] Engage one to three contractors to provide pricing of improvement. Utilize them to provide savings and ideas.
[] Visit lending institutions to determine their general willingness to lend money to new dentists.

6 Months Before Office Opening
[] Finalize the loan package.
[] Finalize and approve floor plan and develop finishes.
[] Begin the development of an office policy and procedure manual.
[] Determine the hours of operation for your practice.

5 Months Before Office Opening
[] Finalize interior finishes and issue drawing for bidding.
[] Select your dental equipment, including an instrument management system (IMS).
[] Solicit bids on leasehold improvements from contractors, including dates for completion.
[] Select record keeping and business management software.
[] Continue the development of the office policy and procedures manual.

4 Months Before Office Opening
[] Sign the contract for leasehold improvements contingent on passing boards and obtaining finances.
[] Place orders for all major equipment and dental supplies contingent on passing boards and obtaining financing.
[] Review and evaluate telephone and answering systems.
[] Continue the development of the office policy and procedures manual.
[] Review available patient management software
[] Review the state dental act and codes of ethics.
[] Review personnel needs.
[] Obtain provider numbers (Medicaid, Delta or service corporation).
[] Get a telephone listing.
[] Create a website.

3 Months Before Office Opening
[] Begin on-site monitoring of contractor’s progress on leasehold improvements.
[] Apply for a narcotics license.
[] Apply for state, county, city or township professional or occupational licenses and a business permit, if required.
[] Apply for federal, state and local tax numbers.
[] Confirm all equipment and supply orders.
[] Explore hospital facilities and apply for staff privileges.
[] Review requirements for unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance and complete necessary forms.
[] Develop a marketing plan for your practice.
[] Make arrangements for the installation of utilities.
[] Arrange for a telephone number and a listing in the telephone book as soon as a location is secured.
[] Order and install a computer system, patient management software, stationery, business cards, prescription pads and other office supplies.
[] Finalize the development of the office policy and procedures manual.
[] Determine the number and type of personnel to be hired.
[] Apply for local, state and national dental society memberships.
[] Develop your personal budget and draw requirements.
[] Develop your projected first-year business budget plan.
[] Speak with an insurance professional to determine what is needed and how the policies can be structured.

2 Months Before Office Opening
[] Finalize your recruitment strategy and place advertisements for personnel.
[] Complete your fee schedule and payment policies.
[] Explore laboratory options and make arrangements for laboratory work.
[] Explore pharmacy options and plan for pharmacy services needed.
[] Explore janitorial service options and arrange for services needed.
[] Arrange for maintenance service.
[] Arrange for uniform and linen service.
[] Join a local credit bureau.
[] Make credit card arrangements.
[] Complete an application for membership in your state’s insurance provider plans.
[] Decide to which specialists you will refer various patients.

1 Month Before Office Opening
[] Monitor the contractor’s progress on leasehold improvements.
[] Compile open order and set up inventory for supplies.
[] Complete installation of equipment.
[] Hire and train office personnel.
[] Complete IRS and other required forms for personnel.
[] Bond personnel.
[] Inspect all work done by contractors.
[] Test all equipment and systems.
[] Place office opening announcements in selected publications and on your website.
[] Send office opening announcements to selected individuals.
[] Arrange for the inspection of the office by required city or county officials.

Office Opening Date
[] Hold an open house.
[] Open your office for business.
[] Monitor all systems.
[] Analyze all aspects of your practice and make modifications as needed


A special thanks to Benco Dental for allowing Dentaltown to use a portion of its “Independence Guide: Setting Up Your Dental Practice.”

In addition to the guide, Benco offers several service resources to help dental practices run smoothly, including these four Practice GPS solutions.

Communicator: Exclusive ReachAll Dental Recall can help increase patient loyalty and retention, and creates new appointments by making sure you reach 100 percent of your patients. Automated appointment reminders reduce no-shows.

Marketer: Obtain new patients and increase website traffic. Develop your brand presence with a professional designed, responsive website, and increase brand awareness with My Practice TV and treatment acceptance with patient education videos.

Navigator: A real-time dashboard gives you access to your practice’s key performance indicators and reports. Actionable solutions can improve productivity and profitability in your office. Insurance reviews and fee analysis for your office are available at a click of a mouse.

Recruiter: A web-based hiring system advertises your openings to internet job boards and provides you with an applicant processing system that scores and filters all incoming applicants.

For more information about these services, visit practicegps.com or benco.com

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