Common Misconceptions When Hiring An Associate

The primary doctor or dentist should make sure they are busy enough before hiring an associate dentist. The age of patients typically falls within ten years older or younger than the dentist. Patients age with the dentist and the practice. As time goes on, existing patients need less extensive dental work, because it has already been done, so they become primarily hygiene recall patients. Many dentists think that bringing in a young associate who has the capacity to bring in younger patients is the solution to a stagnant patient base. This is logical, but not necessarily a valid reason to hire an associate. The potential patients the practice will be trying to reach will be seeing the young associate, not the primary dentist. In addition, if the younger associate is a so-called “hired gun,” it is essential that the primary dentist be protected with a signed contract. Some statistics show that in as much as 90% of the cases examined, a hired gun will leave the practice, taking his or her patients, and set up a practice nearby in order to keep all production profits without sharing with the primary dentist.

Many dentists do not fully utilize their office facility because they do not work evenings, Fridays, or weekends. The primary dentist may have a full schedule during his or her desired hours, but want to bring in a young associate to work evenings and weekends. This type of associate agreement will create the same problems listed above. Again the numbers show that the younger associate will establish a patient base of his or her own and eventually leave and set up practice elsewhere in order to keep all of his or her profit.

Hiring an associate because the primary dentist is getting ready to slow down and retire is a valid reason, but should be done with caution. When the primary dentist is truly ready to phase out for retirement, bringing in an associate is one appropriate way of facilitating this change (selling his or her practice being another). If this is your exit strategy, make sure you interview the associate as your successor, not just an associate dentist. The primary dentist should begin transferring patients to the associate, so the associate is immediately put to work. The primary dentist may want to continue working for a period of time to ensure the associate will be able to handle the practice. This is where extreme caution needs to be exercised. The primary dentist must actually slow down and share patients with the associate in order for this agreement to be successful. In addition, a contract needs to be put in place that creates commitment and ensure adequate protection for both the primary dentist and the hired associated.