I was speaking with an early career dentist four months ago. He decided to leave his first associateship after 1 year because he felt he was not involved enough in the actual business of the practice.  He graduated just last year, earns $11,000 to $12,000 per month, and has an owner who mentors him.  He has learned a lot and his production and income are increasing steadily.

I had to ask him, “After one year, why would you want to leave so quickly?”  This is almost as close to an ideal associateship as I have seen.  He told me he thought he could do better.

After more discussion I learned that he wanted to be on an equal level of an owner or partner without actually earning or paying for the right.  I spoke to him at length about the current state of dentistry.  We discussed how new doctors are fortunate to get great mentorship and build skills and speed before trying to run the business.  Back 10 or 20 years ago it was the status quo to graduate dental school and start a practice.  Not anymore.  

This article, however, is not about talking you in or out of buying a practice right after dental school.  The point I want to share is simply to take a deep look at what you have right now, and decide if you are not jumping ship too soon.   Having an associateship like the one described above is ten times better than another year of dental school or a residency because the associate is getting real world experience in a strong practice with a great owner willing to give his time to mentor the young doctor.

The doctor went on to leave that practice and join another.  During the interview process the practice owner told the dentist everything he wanted to hear.  The dream picture painted in the beginning turned out far from true once the doctor started working in this new practice.  He is now looking for a new job again because this practice does not have the production promised.  The associate’s income has taken a 20% hit.  He was promised partnership in 1 to 2 years, but he does not want to stay there.  

Too many times we think that there is something better out there, or we want to make bigger leaps in our careers than are possible after so little time.  Take a step back, be completely honest with yourself, and talk to others.  You may soon realize that you have the best thing right in front of you.


Written by Carl Guthrie. Carl has been with ETS Dental since 2007 and is the Western Region Recruiter. Contact: cguthrie@etsdental.com | 540-491-9104

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