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Getting Established: Opening A Dental Office In A Small Town

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Now that you have completed your education and have the credentials to practice dentistry, there is the question of what to do next.  You could associate yourself with an established practice in a larger city, but the idea of living in a small town holds the most appeal.  In fact, you've found a small town that currently has no dentist in residence.  If you are serious about carving out a niche in that small community, there are some points about establishing your own practice that you need to know.

Location Matters

The location of your dental office must possess several key qualities.  Take a look at the main street in the small town and see what facilities are available.  If you happen to come across space that once housed a doctor's office, many of the essentials will already be in place.  Don't overlook the possibility of setting up shop in what used to be a small diner.  The plumbing will already be there, and you will have room to create exam rooms, clerical space, and even have room to store dental supplies.

OSHA Compliance

You will need to make some structural changes to the office space, and it is in your best interests to know what must be done to ensure the work is in full compliance with OSHA regulations.  As with any type of area designed to offer services to the public, OSHA does have specific requirements for medical and dental offices.  You will want to make sure the points of entry and exit are up to codes and dental supplies are properly stored, among many other specifics.  The contractor can work with you to make sure the changes to the space are in compliance and will pass a health inspection.

Investing in the Right Equipment

With the office layout completed, you will need to think about the purchase of equipment like dental chairs, desks, furniture for the waiting room, and diagnostic equipment.  The goal is to purchase items that will last for years.  To provide you with access to reliable sources for everything you need, it makes sense to turn to the American Dental Association.  The Association maintains an online product guide that can help the new dentist identify what to buy and suggestions on where to make the purchases.

The Matter of Insurance

Before you open the doors to the first patient, you need to have insurance on the practice.  Start with basic business liability insurance, since this will cover any accidents that may happen on the property.  If someone happens to fall while in the waiting room, there will be funds on hand to cover any claims of negligence.

You'll also want to look into a couple of different forms of business and dental insurance.  Dental malpractice insurance will protect you in the event a patient claims that a procedure led to serious complications or injury.  Plans of this type sometimes cover attorney fees along with providing the funds for settling a claim or covering any judgment awarded by a court.  While you have no plans of ever needing this type of help, remember that it would only take one instance to destroy your practice financially.

Business insurance that will cover losses due to a fire or other covered event is essential.  If a catastrophic event occurred, how would you replace your equipment and supplies?  Business coverage will provide the funds needed to get the office up and running even if everything is destroyed by a covered event. You can click here for more information on dental insurance.

Connecting with the Community

It is not enough to hang out your shingle and place an ad in the local newspaper.  You will want to directly engage the community rather than waiting for them to come to you.  Become a member of the local chamber and attend events that allow you to mix and mingle with other business owners.  Attend community events and talk with people. 

Consider holding an open house at your new office and allow people the chance to come in and get to know you.  Set up a table with refreshments in the waiting room, and maybe even arrange to provide each visitor with something like a new toothbrush.  Those visitors will also help spread the word and increase the chances of building a strong clientele.

Serving a small community has its challenges, but it also has its rewards.  Map out a plan of action and follow it to the letter. As you become part of the town and get to know everyone, it will seem as if you lived there all your life.