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Forum Category: Practice Administration

Moderated by:
Bernard Touati

Pursuing an Associateship

While the “American Dream” continues to be owning your own home, the new “Dentist’s Dream” continues to be owning a practice.  This concept is supported by the fact that approximately eighty percent of American dentists continue to operate as solo practitioners owning their own practice.  The norm thirty years ago was to graduate from dental school, buy equipment, hang out a shingle with the practice name and start practicing. Today, due to extensive debt upon graduation, most new graduates enter the professional field as associates.  While many graduates immediately enter GPR’s or the Armed Services, upon completion of these obligations, the outcome is still the same; they enter private practice.  As associates, they have the opportunity to improve their clinical skills, increase their speed and proficiency, and learn more about the business aspects of the profession they have entered.  For most, they hope the newfound associateship will lead to an eventual ownership position.  Instead, many find themselves building up the value of their host doctor’s practice, only to be forced to leave and relocate. This relocation is a result of enforcement of their non-compete agreement when the promised buy-in/buy-out didn’t occur.  It is important that dental students understand why so many associateships fail (that is to say, do not achieve the desired result for both parties). Sometimes understanding why something fails and avoiding situations leading to failure is the best route to achieving the desired goal.  I suggest that students and potential associates do as much research as possible about the practice and the dentist they are considering joining before they begin.
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Pursuing an Associateship

12:02 PM | Sep 30,2014
I am not so familiar with the terms you are using. Does Associateship assume an eventual buy-in? Do you think there is any value in working in a practice that you do not plan to buy- perhaps to learn different practice styles and discover one's own preferences? Or to gain additional knowledge that comes with new and different experiences? As a dental student, I would love to hear opinions on this.

Pursuing an Associateship

04:41 PM | Apr 08,2011
I'm graduating soon...what are the factors I should consider?

Pursuing an Associateship

04:41 PM | Apr 08,2011
If the purchase price has not been determined prior to the commencement of employment, the parties find themselves on different ends of the spectrum as to what the practice is worth and what the buy-in price should be. The number one reason that after working in a practice for a one-to-three-year period of time the promised buy-in/buy-out does not occur is that the parties did not determine what the purchase price would be before the employment began. The second most common problem is that the details of the buy-in have not been agreed to in writing prior to or immediately after employment. The more items discussed and agreed to in writing beforehand, the better the chance of a successful equity ownership occurring as planned. The often used “if we like each other, we’ll work out the details later” never works. The third most common reason an associateship fails relates to an insufficient existing patient base. Approximately one thousand to twelve hundred active patients are required for each practitioner in a dental practice. If the senior doctor does not intend to restrict or cut back on his/her number of available clinical treatment hours, then the conversion from a one-doctor to a two-doctor practice requires an active patient base of approximately fourteen hundred to eighteen hundred patients and a new patient flow of twenty-five or more new patients per month.