When colleagues found out I was moving to San Francisco from Seattle, many heavily discouraged me from doing so. ‘Why are you moving to one of the most expensive cities in the world?’
‘San Francisco is saturated for dentistry; you will be paid less, asked to do hygiene, and that, coupled with high rents, will make life miserable.’
The last few weeks, I’ve also had several dental students ask why I would move to a new city. I heard the phrases ‘career suicide’, and ‘the opposite of debt-free living’ once or twice!
While people have their own reasons for moving, and I certainly have mine, here are some pointers for those of you considering a move to a bigger city. Sometimes moving and starting fresh is the right decision for you and your family, despite what others may think.
Saturation, explained simply, is when supply exceeds demand. It exists in all kinds of industries- retail, tech, healthcare and banking, among others.
In the case of dentistry, it is when the number of dentists exceeds their necessity in the community. How do you calculate saturation?
Find out the number of dentists from the local dental association, assume each of them has about 2000 patients and then compare it to the population of the city. Are the two in alignment or is one of the numbers way off? This method is very generic and might not be completely reliable. A better way is having a professional company do this for you- I used one called Dentagraphics, to find out if San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area had pockets that are not saturated.
The answer is yes! It DOES. For the most part, the answer will be yes no matter where you are. There are always unsaturated neighborhoods in any city, or small town. No city is completely saturated- this is a misnomer.
A good way to figure out what the average pay in an area is by reviewing Indeed. A lot of business owners will put up salaries of prospective employees on their listing.
A better way is to ask friends and colleagues in the area what the expected pay is and how much more we should negotiate for.
An EVEN BETTER way is to figure out what services make you stand out as a candidate, how to market your work to offices, and ask for what you deserve. A lot of people take this route, and I took it too, on the suggestion of my mentors.
I wouldn’t have had the courage to negotiate for more had I not had my mentors pushing me to stand up for myself. This is the most important thing I did this year.
There are so many other things that make a location perfect – proximity to family and friends, career opportunities, networking in the area, weather, scenery and food. All of these things attracted me to life in the Bay Area. Don’t let the cost of living be the only factor you are concerned about when moving. Everything else needs to make sense too for you and your family. Money alone won’t make you happy.
Looking for a job, at any point of your career, is always stressful. For those of us that are foreign trained and need to look for visa sponsors, it becomes doubly so. To quote my good friend Dr. Delphine, ‘it is important to remember that you can attract the right employer and sponsor with some patience and kindness to yourself. You don’t have to appear desperate for the first position given out to you.’
Keep hustling, keep persevering and you will find the right employer at the right time.
For more information on how to look for a job, and negotiate your pay, attend the webinar on August 18 with the New Dentist Business Club. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for the meeting link. For questions pertaining to foreign trained dentists in America, subscribe to the newsletter on this website to stay abreast of my upcoming book’s arrival!
All the best!