Dental Associate Satisfaction Among Dentists

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Dentists' satisfaction with dental associatesDental associates don’t always leave dentists satisfied. In this survey, 31% of dentists with associates report they’ve been mostly satisfied, 46% have been partly satisfied, and 23% have been left unsatisfied.

"Associates never or rarely cover their expenses," complained one dentist.

Seventy-one percent of dentists in this survey have had one or more experiences with dental associates. Of these doctors…

  • 8% of dentists have been 100% satisfied by their dental associate(s)
  • 23% of dentists have been 80% satisfied by their associate(s)
  • 21% of dentists have been 60% satisfied by their associate(s)
  • 26% of dentists have been 40% satisfied by their associate(s)
  • 15% of dentists have been 20% satisfied by their associate(s)
  • 8% of dentists have been 0% satisfied by their associate(s)

Negative dental associate experiences

  • "I hired the wife of a friend. Big mistake! She thought practicing dentistry was like going to a country club.  We start at 8 am and go to 5 pm.  She would get to the office by 10 am and sometimes 10:30 am, see one patient, go out for a long lunch and shopping, maybe come back and see a 2 pm patient, and leave us with no help when we needed it." (Illinois dentist)

They expect more than they bring in

  • "The associate in my practice expected a six figure income without having to WORK for it! I also had a lazy associate who had retired fromthe Air Force who told me that he was paid the same amount in the military whether he saw one patient or a hundred patients! I told him that private practice does not work that way." (Alabama dentist)
  • "Graduates have the impression that they should demand a salary that is well beyond their ability to produce it." (Florida dentist)
  • "Associates never or rarely cover their expenses." (General dentist)

Get an associate at the end of your career, not the middle

  • "What was I thinking to bring in a kid right out of dental school? I thought it would be great, but each of our three years together went by was worse than the one before. His diagnostic and clinical skills never seemed to improve, no matter how much we talked or I tried to coach him. He never
    really mastered decay removal, appropriate preps for indirect restorations, tooth bonding techniques, or treatment planning. I realized that I was trying to keep him busy, but my speed was so much faster than his that I could actually have done all his work as well as mine. After he left, I went on to produce much more per year than we had done together. This helped me realize that associateships should be exclusively for dentists who are ready to leave a practice, not for dentists who are mid-career. Mid-career dentists who are very busy and think they need an associate need to rethink their own practices, up their education, and focus on higher-fee procedures. If an associate would agree to performing the lower-fee procedures, it might be a smart move. Associateships should be for the benefit of the hiring dentist, not the associate." (North Carolina dentist)

Associates don't grow your practice

  • "I added an associate and thought that she would grow the practice to fill her time. Big mistake. Don't add an associate unless you are already too busy to handle all of the appointments that are scheduled and your schedule is currently overbooked." (General dentist)
  • "My associate had an air of entitlement and expected to have everything handed to him.  It was just a job, there was no commitment.  No matter how much we discussed it he would not do what was necessary to generate his own referral sources.  He also showed questionable morals when he decided to break our contract." (California dentist)

Associates are a challenge

  • "Neither of my two past associates provided restorative dental treatment up to my standards." (Connecticut prosthodontist)
  • "They think short term." (Australia dentist)

Sometimes things work out

  • "I had one associate for 20 years and then I sold the practice to Heartland. He is still in the practice." (Virginia dentist)

The importance of agreements and strategies

  • "You must have an agreement in writing that details what is expected from both parties and who is responsible for what…..lab bills, getting new patients, taxes etc, Another equally important thing is to have an exit strategy for each doctor. You need to have someone who shares your practice
    philosophy. It is preferable to have someone who complements what you do, meaning they like to do or at least are willing to do what you don't. You must treat them fairly." (General dentist)

 

Note: Survey sample included 55 respondents. Posted 6/23/2010

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