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5 Associateship Misconceptions

People often hear of many misconceptions when entering into an associateship position.  Below, I outline 5 misconceptions you may often hear.  Take note of these so you can avoid making these mistakes.

This is just a standard contract.  I don’t need an attorney to review it.
Making this statement can be one of the biggest mistakes you can make.  There’s no such thing as a “standard” contract and it should always be reviewed by an attorney.  You are entering into a job that may impact your long-term career so you need help identifying if the agreement has terms and conditions that are unfavorable to you.  Always hire an attorney!

Because the senior doctor is offering me this job, I shouldn’t ask any questions about the associateship.  
You should never blindly enter into an associateship position.  Due diligence needs to be performed prior to signing any contract.  You will want to weigh your available opportunities with the level of due diligence you perform and know when the time is right to ask your questions.  Aside from having an attorney review the contract as I mentioned above, there are various questions you should be asking the senior dentist so you know exactly what you are getting into and what will be expected of you.

I’m being paid “x” amount on production or collections, so it works out to be close to the same amount.
Does it really?  Make sure you know and understand the difference between production, adjusted production and collections.  What percentage will you be paid and is it fair within the industry?  Will you be eligible for bonuses?  Will you be paying any expenses like lab fees, malpractice insurance, continuing education, uniforms, etc.?  Be sure to get all of the facts on compensation and benefits for which you may be eligible.

I’m not sure why they want to bring in an associate, but I’m sure it’ll be a good learning experience. 
Why are they bringing in an associate?  Is it to slow down and reduce their schedule?  Do they plan on retiring soon?  Or do they want to bring in an associate to grow the practice?  Have they had associates in the past?  Did the prior associates not work out?  Ask why.  You want to make sure you know their intentions to ensure it’s going to line up with your expectations for your associateship plans.

I will gain all the experience I need from this associateship  to eventually own my own practice one day.
Maybe you will, but maybe you won’t.  Will you be doing more hygiene checks and seeing more of the insurance patients?  How will the new patients be allocated?  On the flip side, will you be expected to do more complicated procedures that you aren’t ready for?  Spend some time determining if the procedure mix and treatment styles of this practice line up with what you want.

Your main goal in all of this is to enter into an associateship agreement with a team of advisors to assist you with this big decision.  Be confident in your skill set and the opportunity available to you.  But also be cautious and aware of the short-term and long-term impact.