The Quest For the Perfect Associate Starts Here!

Hiring an associate for your practice is a process that comes with an elevated level of decisions, questions, and stress. That makes sense because a poor choice can ultimately cost you tens of thousands of dollars. A poor choice can overturn the productive, harmonious balance you and your team have cultivated over the years. A poor choice can cost you sleep and energy, trying to figure out how to set the ship back on course.

You want to be profitable and make money when you hire an associate. You want an associate who will treat patients the way you do, get along with your entire team and be a great asset to the practice. A bonus would be an associate who would seamlessly take over your practice when you’re ready to step back.

Let’s find you that associate.

  1. Be clear with your own goals so you can be clear in your communication with the applicants. Decide ahead of time if you’re looking for someone to be in the office short-term, or long-term.  Decide the hours available, type of patients available and types of services you want to be performed. Right from the interview, start this relationship off in a clear and honest manner.
  • Ask the same set of questions for all applicants – you want to be able to compare their answers on an equal level. To get a good sense of each applicant’s thoughts and intentions, you could try asking:
  • What experience do you have with molar endo, crown and bridge (or substitute any procedure you prefer not to complete yourself) and do you enjoy these procedures?
  • What are your strengths as a dentist?  In which areas could you improve your skills?
  • Do you enjoy working with children?
  • Are you used to doing hygiene recall exams during the time that patients are in your chair?
  • What is your ideal work environment?
  • Do you have any CE plans?
  • What are your long-range plans?
  • Pay attention to these questions.  More than just getting an answer, you want to gauge the level of confidence each applicant shows with their answer.
  • Never go with your gut opinion, or whether an applicant is initially likeable or not – go with references and check them thoroughly! If an applicant can’t provide a reference because they’re leaving an existing office, ask for copies or photos of completed radiographs of treatments they have recently completed. This should help you feel confident with the quality of work they will be delivering in your office.
  • If most of their questions lean toward compensation, or how busy they’ll be, this is where you should go with your gut. Their interest may be more about money than patients. Respond by asking more direct questions about their expectations – you might find their philosophy is different from yours.
  • Once you’ve selected your final candidates, consider role-play with two other team members as you observe. One team member will be the assistant and the other, the patient. Use a recent new patient chart for the radiographs. Have the applicant go through a new patient exam, as well as describe treatment featuring major restorative options. This scenario will give you two more opinions on how the applicant would integrate with the rest of your team.

A new associate needs to be able to replicate the philosophy and verbiage that exists in your practice and with patients, to have a successful transition with all. The planning needs to incorporate that verbiage as well. Save money and stress on a bad choice, make money and a thriving practice environment with the right choice. I want to help you with this life-changing step.

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