Thinking About Becoming an Associate? Here’s What You Should Know
Joining a practice as an associate offers young dentists a lot of opportunity for growth. As an associate, dentists have the chance to learn from an experienced clinician while enhancing their skills and preparing for a long, rewarding career in dentistry.
Yes, it can be exciting to join a practice as an associate, but it’s important to make sure the practice you choose is a good fit.
You’re probably thinking, “That makes sense Sally, but what questions should I be asking?” Not to worry. I’m here to help, and have put together a few questions every associate should ask before joining a practice:
Is the practice saturated or struggling?
In a saturated practice, you’ll also likely find a good number of patients who are overdue for their professional hygiene appointment. I suggest you meet and make an effort to start building relationships with these patients. Get them back in the chair and talk with them about their oral health goals and how you can help them meet those goals. They’ll get the care they need while you gain experience and contribute to practice growth.
How do you approach treatment planning?
To avoid this, I suggest you talk with the senior dentist about his or her approach to patient care and treatment planning. Find out if there’s a Treatment Coordinator or if producers are expected to handle their own case presentations. Ask about the case acceptance rate and how patient education is presented in the practice. Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll have a pretty good idea if the practice is a good fit for you or if it’s better to move on.
What type of guidance and feedback will you offer?
It’s a good idea to schedule a standing weekly meeting with the senior dentist for the first six months. Use these meetings as an opportunity to learn. Talk about difficult cases and any management concerns you have. Trust me, this is a great way to keep communication open and address any issues that come up before they turn into major problems. You’ll also know exactly how you’re progressing, including where you’re excelling and where you might need to make some improvements.
I also suggest you and the hiring doctor meet once a month to review key practice indicators, including accounts receivables and production reports.
What if this doesn’t work out?
Just remember: No matter what happens or why you decide it’s time to go, it’s important to leave on good terms. This is not the time to burn bridges.
There are many benefits to joining a practice as an associate, and with the right research and preparation, it can be a rewarding experience for both you and the hiring dentist. Keep in mind this is an important stepping stone for you, and not just any opportunity will do. Take the time to find the right fit and you’ll be well on your way to a rewarding career.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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