A associateship offers new dentists a great opportunity to expand and refine their skills, get familiar with the business side of practicing dentristy, and develop patient relationships without the burden of owning the practice and all of the responsibilities that go with it. But how do you know if dental associate opportunities are right for you?  And how can you know which dental associate opportunities will be the best fit and offer the most opportunity for career growth?

The answers to these questions are found with preparation and information. Before you can decide about whether to pursue a dental associateship, you need to know what is being offered.  That is, you need to know enough about dental associateships to be able to ask the right questions and get the information that will be critical to this important stage in your career. And while you might not (yet) be an expert in the details of dental associateships, here at DDSmatch Southwest, we are, and we can help.

What You Need to Know About Dental Associate Opportunities

One way of approaching the situation is to think of two levels of inquiry.  The first question is whether the associateship is with a good practice. That is, is it a well-organized office that is doing well and running smoothly?  The ADA has identified a good list of questions that can help you figure this out:

  • What type of condition is the equipment in?
  • Are the treatment rooms set up as left or right handed? (Can they be switched if necessary?)
  • Is the practice in good financial standing?
  • What type of patient flow does the practice have?
  • Are you responsible for filling your schedule, or will the front office provide you with patients?
  • What is the collection rate?
  • Do the other dentists in the practice have a similar philosophy of care?
  • What type of technology does the practice implement?
  • Are the patient files in good order?
  • Is the staff knowledgeable and friendly?
  • Are their opportunities for growth with this practice?
  • Check online to see if the practice has a social media presence and carefully read online reviews of the practice on Google, Facebook, Yelp, YP, BBB, etc.
  • How is compensation calculated?

These are excellent questions that should be asked about all dental associate opportunities. But there is a second level of inquiry that is equally important, yet more difficult to figure out: is this practice a good fit for you personally? It’s in answering this question where DDSmatch Southwest can really help.

When we assist dentists with either associateships or buying or selling their practices, we put our experience with these transactions to work for you, helping you identify opportunities and potential problems so you can make the most informed decision.  Some of the things you should consider are:

  • Is the practice prepared for an associate? An associate can impact every aspect of a practice, and, especially if a practice hasn’t had an associate before, requires a lot of consideration and planning.  You want to make sure the owner dentist has thoroughly considered the impact on the staff and practice and has prepared for it.
  • Is the owner dentist considering your unique personality and how it will fit? Even if the owner dentist appears to be making this consideration, you should be carefully considering it as well. Is the owner dentist easy to talk to? Do you feel comfortable with them? What about office staff? If you haven’t been offered the opportunity to speak with the office staff, ask to do so, preferably without the owner dentist present. Any refusal to accommodate this request should be cause for concern.
  • What are the owner dentist’s goals for their practice? For a lot of new associates, this is the first step on their career path and it can set direction for several years.  Make sure that the owner dentist has a clear vision for their practice that is compatible with your career goals.
  • Do you have realistic financial expectations? What you can expect to earn will vary widely depending on where you practice and what type of practice you work in. Additionally, there are a variety of ways to structure associate compensation. You need to know what options are available and what is typical for the area in which the associateship is located. This will help you have a reasonable expectation for compensation. Also, in every instance, make sure your agreement is in writing.
  • How are patients assigned? This is especially important where compensation based on a percentage of collections, which is increasingly common. If the owner dentist takes the fee-for-service patients and assigns managed care patients to the associate, you will have a much lower collection to production ratio, impacting your compensation.

We Can Place You in the Right Dental Associate Opportunities

With DDSmatch Southwest, our experience in successfully matching associates with practices, along with the right buyers and sellers of dental practices, can work for you in getting placed with the best practice for your career. Our proven processes will make sure associates and owner dentists are well matched in terms of complimenting skill sets, compatible personalities, and much more. Of course, it’s natural to be nervous starting a new position and change is always hard for everyone. But by making sure you think through all the details, you will avoid common mistakes and begin your career one step ahead.

Don’t take chances with something so important as your career.  Contact us today and find out what we can do for you.