New dentists have many professional options after graduating from dental school. One of these options is joining an existing office as an associate dentist. Although it may seem like an ideal route for you, it may face some challenges if the future associate and the practice owner do not discuss — and put in writing — important hiring agreements such as compensation, benefits, laboratory expenses, supplies and future purchase terms.
During the interview process, both the owner and the potential associate should be prepared with a list of specific questions to discuss in a variety of areas, such as:
- What is the practice vision? Does it align with what the new dentist wants?
- How is the new dentist going to be mentored by the practice owner, not only in materials used or patient care decisions, but also in business management, staff relations and more?
- How will the new dentist get assigned patients?
- What is the future for the new dentist AFTER the associate period?
- If the situation is one that the new dentist will eventually buy the practice from the owner, or become a co-owner, then he or she should ask to see the financial and tax information and the valuation report. This may even include preparing the papers needed to complete the transfer of ownership down the road. Going through this extra step during the interview process may help to eliminate hassles and misunderstandings in the future.
The above content is excerpted from Episode #22: Smart Questions for a Successful Associateship, an audio presentation created by the ADA and featuring William Prescott, an Ohio attorney with over 20 years’ experience representing dentists in practice transition negotiations. Listen to the complete recording below.