Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Expectations of Dental Associateships

Associateships begin and fail everyday. Why do they fail so often? A simple way to answer this is that either or both sides failed to meet expectations. More specifically, the expectations were never even laid out at the beginning, so one side was letting down the other and never knew why or that he/she was doing this.

Some common feedback I get from owners when I ask them about their previous associates is that it didn't work because that doctor could not produce enough, or that doctor did not want to buy-in, or that doctor needed more mentoring than owner was willing/able to give.

Upfront communication during the interview process could have helped a lot of associateships succeed better, or simply never start in the first place. It is better to find the right person rather than hire the wrong person and have to repeat the interviewing and onboarding process over and over again.

What the owner/practice should lay out upfront:

(simple examples, not comprehensive)

  1. Production goals

  2. Required schedule

  3. Transition plans

  4. Associate's leadership role in the practice in relation to staff

  5. Compensation

  6. Whether the associate will have any say so in equipment, office systems, and staff management

  7. Insurance accepted by the practice

  8. Particular cases or situations which must be handled by the owner

  9. What must be referred out

What the associate prospect should lay out upfront:

(simple examples, not comprehensive)

  1. Income goals

  2. Transition or practice ownership goals

  3. Skill sets

  4. Comfort level with various cases and patient types

  5. Length of time willing to commit to a practice/area

Remember not to rush into hiring an associate or becoming an associate when you still have a lot of questions or uncertainties.

Related articles by ETS Dental you should check out:

  1. Will My New Associate Be Here In 6 Months?

  2. Associate Dentist Interview Tips

  3. Can your Dental Practice Support an Additional Dentist as an Associate or Partner?

  4. Resources for a Practice Owner Preparing to Interview Associate Candidates
Carl Guthrie is a Dental Recruiter with ETS Dental. He covers the Western U.S. Region. Carl can be reached at or