Making the decision to open your own dental or orthodontics practice is a big one. However, it is just the first in a long list of hard decisions that you now face as a dental practice owner. An attorney specializing in highly regulated industries, such as dental and other medical fields, can help advise you on those decisions and what suits your needs the best.
A choice of entity serves as a great starting point for your budding practice. Whether an LLC, Corporation, or Partnership suits your needs will vary depending on what you want to do. In fact, practicing as a sole proprietor under your own professional trade name may be the best option in some cases. When you speak with your attorney about what kind of entity you choose to form, be sure to have an idea of where you would like the business to be in 5-10 years: Do you want to partner with a fellow dentist down the road, add separate additional services, or merge with another practice?
Organizing your business and the policies that govern how your practice operates is absolutely crucial. The operating agreement and in-house practice policies will be the guidebook you use to run your office. Do you know the laws that govern the permitted practices of dental assistants or dental hygienists and is that line clearly enumerated in your employment policy handbook? What constitutes the unauthorized practice of dentistry and how is your practice structured to best prevent it from happening? Obviously, having the policies and laws written down in a book may not prevent mistakes from being made. However, having these policies in clearly written forms with mandatory safeguards in place will certainly lessen the probability.
The discussion of in-house policy and procedures goes hand in hand with your employee and independent contractor agreements and contracts. As a practicing professional these concerns are rampant, especially for a growing and successful practice. Knowing the differences between certain employer relationships and structuring your contracts to custom fit your needs and goals may save you headaches and potentially thousands of dollars down the road. Using an employee or independent contractor contract form you printed from a Google search may seem convenient at first, but the money you believe you saved will pale in comparison to the potential consequences later on.
Clearly, there are a multitude of concerns facing dentists and orthodontists who choose to strike out on their own. The structure and planning of your practice will serve as the foundation that your business builds on for years to come and should not be taken lightly. If you are serious about wanting to someday run a successful dental practice, forming a relationship with an attorney from the very beginning will help to protect that dream. Working with a trusted and knowledgeable attorney saves time, money, and hassle and we are ready to help.