Finding the “Perfect” Associate

As everyone knows finding the “perfect’ associate doesn’t just happen by luck. To find an associate who will work well in your office, they need to have more than a Dental degree. They will need to have a practice philosophy similar to yours, they will need to be able to meld with the existing team, be personable with patients and you will want them to make a commitment to your practice. This sounds like a pretty tall order especially, if you are wanting to cut down on your own hours, you may end up accepting someone who doesn’t fit the bill just to give yourself a break. 

During your new potential associate recruiting you will want to ensure that you have more in common than just going to the same school or liking the same sort of outdoor activity. When you place a posting for a potential new associate, you will want to market your practice in a way that is true to its nature, ensuring that the perks of the practice are highlighted as well.

When you have a potential candidate visit the office for an in-person interview, you may want to have them review a recent new patient exam radiographs and intra oral pictures and see if their diagnosis for the patient would be similar to yours. This will help you see if their practice philosophy is similar to yours. If you will be co-treating patients, then similar treatment plans are a must. You may also want to try some role play with one of your team members and have the candidate explain treatment options to them to ensure that their explanations and descriptions are similar to yours.

Once you have made a decision about the new associate joining your practice you will want to send out an email blast to your patients welcoming the new associate to the practice. You will want to add information regarding their schooling, dental working history (if they have one) and some of their interests outside of practicing dentistry. This will also allow your team to get to know the new associate as well. You will want to state whether the new associate will be co-treating some of your current patients or will they be seeing new patients only. 

The verbiage that your team uses when introducing the new associate whether over the phone or in-person is very important as well. If there is a patient in for a hygiene appointment and the new associate will be do the recall exam, the hygienist should let the patient know in advance that Dr.  ___________ will be doing their recall exam today at the beginning of the appointment. The hygienists should also follow up with endorsement verbiage for the associate. This would sound like “You are going to like Dr.  _________   he is awesome with patients “ or for a nervous patient “You are going to like Dr. _________ she is very gentle with patients.” This endorsement will be important as it will be coming from a team member that is trusted already by the patient.

Once the associate starts in the practice your responsibility as an owner isn’t complete, especially if it is a newer grad that you have brought into the practice. You will want to continue to mentor, review treatment plans and intra oral pictures of completed treatment.  This will serve two purposes, firstly it will ensure that treatment is inline with your philosophy and secondly it will help the associate grow from a more experienced practitioner. If your new associate is more experienced you will still want to be checking on treatment delivered, notes made and treatment plans to ensure that they are within the profession’s guidelines.

Some offices find that associates aren’t committed and will move on quickly if their schedules aren’t profitable. In some practices this is inevitable if the hours are new hours to the practice or if it is a new practice altogether. To avoid this movement, you may want to offer a minimum compensation per day worked. If you are looking for an associate that will eventually transition into ownership of some or all of the practice then you will want to have a contract drawn up to ensure that all expectations are clear to each party.

As you can see there is a lot of work that goes into recruiting, hiring and onboarding a new associate. To ensure success for your patients and your team you may want to reach out to a coach to help make the whole process less stressful.

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