Skip to main content
ADVERTISEMENT
Toggle Menu of ADA WebSites
ADA Websites
Partnerships and Commissions
Toggle Search Area
Toggle Menu

Associateships: What, How and Who?

dental team member

What is a dental associateship?

A common form of dental employment is an associateship, where a dentist works as an employee of another dentist, or a group practice.

Every associateship is structured a differently, depending on the parties involved. Like any long-term relationship, a successful associateship depends on shared goals and clear communication. An associateship is commonly structured around the transition of a practice but it would be a mistake for either party to assume that transition is a given. Make sure when you’re looking for a position that you pay attention to what the owner dentist’s long term goals are too; they should agree with your job search priorities.

Regardless of how an associateship is ultimately structured, make sure you get it in writing. A recent survey showed that 63% of new dentist associates do have a written contract — so that means that 37% do not! A written agreement can help answer questions about the relationship in advance, and reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings.

How do I find an associateship opportunity?

You may have heard that dentistry is like a small town where everyone seems to know everyone else. This word-of-mouth can be a great asset both for the new dentist hoping to find an associateship, as well as the hiring dentist interested in adding a dentist to the practice. Here are some ways to be proactive in getting “to know everyone else.”

  1. Take advantage of networking within the dental community:
    • Attend your national, state or local dental society meetings (even while still in school)
    • Talk with dentists in attendance.  Most are happy to chat—especially with a student
    • Visit your state and local dental societies
    • Be sure to bring your business cards!
  2. Note any continuing education meetings scheduled nearby:
    • Drop by the vendor tables and talk to the representatives
    • Dental sales representatives visit the area offices, and are happy to help out a potential future customer
  3. The ADA Career Center
    • Current listings from across the country
    • Updated often
    • Find your dream position without even leaving the Center for Professional Success!
  4. Dental school alumni associations:
    • Very often the schools maintain a job posting site
    • You and the hiring dentist will very likely share much of the same training and philosophy, which can help ease your transition into the practice

What do hiring dentists want?

  • A dentist with a similar philosophy
  • A resume that reflects experience and accomplishments
  • A candidate interested in becoming involved in the community (because that reflects positively on the practice)
  • A willingness to take on the duties of being a professional—including responsibilities within the practice (emergency coverage, paperwork, practice management and the like)
  • An associate who is a good listener
  • Someone who is enthusiastic about becoming part of the team
  • Good references -- both professional and personal
  • And finally, an interview that shows the candidate is a professional
ADVERTISEMENT