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Associateships, Partnerships, & Mergers

Dental Practice Associateships

Associateships. Career opportunity or just a job?

For some, an associateship, partnership, or merger is a wise career move. But not all joint practice setups are created equal. There can be many benefits to joining a practice as an associate, and there can be just as many benefits for a senior dentist to hire one. However, navigating the associateship process can be complicated for both parties, and it isn’t always the right career move. If you're considering either hiring an associate or working as an associate, our dental broker specialists will help you get all the information you need to make the right choice for you.

For the Senior Dentist

If you're thinking about hiring an associate, you’ll want to start by deciding on your requirements so you can put together a contract, which should include the terms of the agreement and a compensation model. You'll need to determine if your associate is an employee or an independent contractor, and you should decide how to reimburse him or her. You can pay a salary, or payment can be based on collections or production. You’ll also need to consider covenants not to compete, staff, legal issues, and accounting decisions, and make provisions for separation before the associateship begins.

Once you've determined the scope of the opportunity and what you're looking for, review the compensation structure, position responsibilities and restrictive covenant (where applicable). You’ll want this to be extremely clear. If the associate position is supposed to eventually lead to ownership, look deeper to ensure that this opportunity can be a reality. Does the practice seem to be continuing in development — both clinically and managerially? Does the opportunity you're offering for eventual full ownership really exist?

After your review, ask questions and receive advice from outside parties familiar with these types of agreements--preferably a lawyer and/or a broker with experience in this area. For more information or help finding an associate, click here to contact your local ADS specialist today.

For the Potential Associate

If you're considering working as an associate in an established dental practice, there are some important questions to consider. First, you'll have to decide if you are looking for a career opportunity or just a job. There is a difference! Does the position offer opportunities for advancement or eventual ownership, or is it meant to be an employee or contractor position indefinitely? Does compensation depend on your productivity, or is it salaried? Try to imagine where you'll be in five or ten or twenty years, and see how this position fits into those goals.

Once you have found a position that seems amenable to you, review the compensation structure, position responsibilities and restrictive covenant (where applicable). You'll need to understand all the details you're agreeing to before you can determine whether the position is right. You’ll also want to consider working conditions and environment. Do this practice seem to fit your philosophy about dentistry? Can you see yourself working with the senior dentist long term?

If your intent is for this position to eventually lead to full ownership, look deeper to ensure there is an opportunity for continuing development — both clinically and managerially. Don't just rely on the owner's judgement; evaluate the practice yourself, and ask for a broker's assessment. Does the opportunity the practice owner is promising really exist?

On both sides, it's important to have an experienced, knowledgeable resource to help ensure the right questions are asked and that the process goes smoothly. Getting off to a good start will improve the associateship experience for both the senior dentist and the new associate. At ADS Dental Transitions, this is our specialty. For more information on selling or buying a dental practice, or on associate agreements, contact your local ADS specialist today.

Should I consider an associateship, potential partnership, or merger?


Whether you're looking to buy, planning for retirement, or making a lateral shift in the middle of your career, we have the experience to help with your dental practice transition needs.

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