Hiring an associate can either be the answer to your dreams or the beginning of a very bad nightmare. There are a number of considerations when making the decision as well as other items to consider along the way. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN each step along the way, will be the only way to have a successful integration.
Great reasons for adding an associate to a practice:
- You would like to work fewer days per week, if this is the first step in your transition plan then you may want to prepare a gradual buy in agreement for the associate after a period of time. A gradual buy in agreement will allow an associate to have some interest in the future success of the practice.
- Your schedule is booked out consistently more than four weeks in advance and you feel the pressure of not being able to service your existing patient’s needs.
- Your practice has consistent new patient growth and you feel that your practice can support an associate without taking away from your own existing patient base
- You are choosing to extend the hours currently offered by your practice and you hire an associate who realizes that they are responsible for building their own patient base.
How do you know an associate is the right match?
- A new grad is a good idea if you enjoy teaching, mentoring and being a full participant in ensuring that a new grad will provide treatment and make decisions for a patient in the way that you would. Your entire team will need patience as well, as new grads are typically not speedy when performing recall exams or patient explanations.
- Ensuring that you have a common practice philosophy. This means more than getting along socially at an initial meeting. Ask the prospective new associate how they would handle specific situations. Show them a new patient’s radiographs and ask how they would treatment plan for this patient. If their answers are different from yours then this may not be a good fit in your practice.
- Involve two of your team members in a role play scenario, where you go through a new patient exam, an explanation of an endo and a crown and a discussion of a long-term treatment plan using radiographs from another patient in your practice. If you or your team aren’t comfortable in their delivery of role play, then a patient may not feel comfortable either.
- Ensuring that your candidate has a personality match with you and your team, have a number of interactions with them before you make a decision. Arrange for a meeting with your Office Manager, arrange for shadowing for half day, even once the pandemic has cleared share a meal with a candidate. Pay close attention to any personality traits that may bother you or those whose opinions you trust.
When transitioning a new associate into your practice:
- Have them meet as many team members as possible in advance and share a written biography with the entire team so that if a patient asks about the new dentist your team can say something personal and genuine about the new associate.
- Have a biography for the new associate up on your website and visible in your office as soon as possible so that your team can refer patients to these areas when letting them know that a new provider is in the office.
- When the team is introducing the new provider always give the patient a heads up with verbiage that shows owners support as well as their own. “Dr. Smith has chosen Dr. X to join our practice, we have all found that patients love him.”
- Meet with the new associate at least once a week when they initially begin, review their treatment plans to ensure they are similar to yours and discuss their integration with the rest of the team.
Working through these steps can make having an associate a very positive experience in your practice for both the patients and your team. Your time, effort and energy will be rewarded by making the correct decision for your practice.