Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dentists - What to Know Before You Accept an Associate Position

Finding a new associate position can be a daunting process for both new and experienced dentists. While making a good impression on an interview is important, it is equally important to learn as much as possible about the practice. Here is a compilation of questions from job seekers who I have worked with over the years. I hope that this list will make the decision process less intimidating.

-Employee or Independent Contractor?
-Employee at will?
-Is the doctor open to restrictive covenant in case of future ownership?
-Is the doctor going to stay on PT for some time or can he, if needed (After purchase)?

Type of Practice 
-How the practice is set up (family, Pedo, or dentures)? Pedo: what age?
-Age of the practice?
-When/what do you refer out?
-Place or Restore Implants? Which system?
-# of operatories
-# of Hygienists. Hrs of operation?
-# assistants
-Will the associate have their own assistant?
-How much is the practice overhead?
-How long has each employee been there?
-What does the practice do to market itself?
-How many FT and PT staff?

-What is the patient pool like?
-Have the number of active patient records been reviewed?
-Is the practice growing or declining in number of patients seen, new patients attracted, and young patients?
-Average number of cancellations per week?
-Average number of patients seen by associate per day?
-How far ahead is the doctor book filled?
-How far ahead is the associate book filled?
-How far ahead is the hygienist’s book filled?
-Discounts/Bartering/payment plans?
-PPO type of insurance? Insurances: accept all kinds or just selected ones?
-How much is the discounted price of the PPO compared to the fee schedule?
-Medicare or Medicaid acceptance?
-How much of the practice relies upon capitation programs, PPOs, HMOs, Medicare or Medicaid?
-What percent is FFS, cash and discounted PPO?
-When was the last fee increase?
-Are the fees low, high or average for the immediate area?
-Do you offer patients credit?

-Days, hours, on call, etc.
-How many office hours and days per week is the office open?

-Job description (separate document) or general description
-Is the associate expected to check hygiene of other doctor’s patients? If yes, will the associate be compensated for it?
-Will the associate be expected to perform hygiene/prophy?
-Does the doctor do any procedures other than regular general dentistry?
-What were the most of the cases being done by the associate?
-Will the associate be placing Implants for the practice?

-Supplies, equipment, support. Etc
-What type of PMS (Software) is used?
-Implant surgical set up? Who finances to get that set up if NOT already in place?
-What is the square footage of the office? Can it be expanded?
-Average age of equipment?
-Is the practice left-handed, right-handed, or ambidextrous?
-Do you have a confirmation system for appointments?
-How do you deal with NO Show?
-Digital X-ray?
-Intraoral Digital Camera?

Term of contract 
-How long?
-What is the required notice period should either party wish to terminate the relationship?

-Is there a guaranteed salary, draw, daily rate or hourly rate?
-Is commission determined from collections or production?
-If collections, what is the collections rate in the practice?
-What percentage of production/collections is used to calculate income?
-Is there a chance to increase compensation in the future?
-Is the associate responsible for my own lab fees and expenses?
-Taxes withheld?
-How will the associate be paid? (Weekly/bi-weekly/monthly)
-How much on average was the last associate making?
-What was the average associate production per day?
-Does the associate production include hygiene exams and x-rays?
-Can I get a fee schedule of the practice?

-Medical Insurance: health and dental?
-Malpractice insurance?
-Disabilities insurance?
-Required CE courses? How much and for how many hours a year? Are they paid for/reimbursed? Is there a stipend?
-Sick days…….. # allow per yr…..
-Personal days/vacations…..# per yr allow……
-What benefits are given to the staff?

-Define, list, when paid, lab, etc…..
-What Lab do you use? Use different lab for different lab orders?
-Will the practice support the acquisition loan (in case of future ownership), pay the overhead expenses and can afford a reasonable income?

Other Questions and Notes:
-What is your practice Philosophy and Goals? For the Practice and with new pt’s tx?
-% of implant surgeries
-Have you had associate before? How many? How long they stayed? What was the reason for the associate resignation?
-How do you advertise?
-Will most dental insurance dictate pt’s Tx plan??
-Do you deal a lot with EMERGENCY pt? Separate operatories for that?
-Average number of emergencies per week?
-Will I be doing hygiene/prophy when I don’t have pt?
-Who determines how long I have when spending with new pt/initial exam and record?
-Do I have a separate apt to do comprehensive exams and record, or do I perform the TP when pt comes in for cleaning?
-How long does a hygienist spend on their recalls?
-Is there a particular doctor in the area who is your main competitor?
-Who sees the patient first (Doctor, hygienist, associate)?
-Why was the partnership offer turned down by an associate (if applicable)?
-Will I be able to visit the office during regular working hours?
-Does the doctor have a report showing how much treatment is treatment planned?

Partnership/Buy in/Sale
-What is the time frame for an associate position before we can talk about partnership/buy in/buy out?
-Is there an option for future ownership? Are you considering a move out of state?

Restrictive Covenant

Posted by Morgan Pace.

Morgan Pace is the Southeastern U.S. Account Executive and Senior Recruiter for ETS Dental. He can be reached at or 540-491-9102. ETS Dental is a Dental Recruiting firm specializing in finding and placing General Dentists, Dental Specialists, and Dental Staff throughout the United States.