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.”
- 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!
- 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
- The ADA Career Center:
- Current listings from across the country
- Updated often
- Find your dream position without even leaving the Center for Professional Success!
- 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
- ADA Practice Transitions
- Find an associateship position through ADA Practice Transitions, an online platform that matches you with practices based on your desired characteristics
- An ADA Advisor will guide you through the process, helping you set goals and expectations while fostering a meaningful connection with another dentist
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