Finding the Right Associate Dentist

When you are busy enough to add an associate to your dental practice, it’s important to find a dentist who will reflect favorably on your practice.  While that sounds straightforward, it’s more difficult than meets the eye.  The primary challenge is that most dentists will be hiring an associate for the first time, unaware of the common challenges that derail the working relationship.

First, it’s important to hire someone who is aligned with your treatment philosophy. Imagine the challenges for your team and patients if you would treatment plan a few crowns while your associate recommends full mouth rehabilitation.  Or, if you are known for taking extra time with anxious patients and you hire an associate who does not have a warm chair-side manner.

Talking with a potential associate over lunch does not tell you much about their approach to treatment; instead it’s in your best interests to spend extra time—typically over several interviews—discussing cases and treatment plans.  Really get to know that person. While it’s challenging to do a working interview for an associate, you can have the dentist do an exam or a simple procedure on you or your team.


The next major obstacle to consider is how the associate will work with your team.  How does the potential associate handle conflict?  You need someone who is coachable and who can adjust to your systems.  Does the associate seem appropriately confident or does the person come across as timid?  Consider how this will affect the team’s willingness to work with the associate and guide patients to his schedule.

When you find the right associate, it can be a great benefit to the practice.  The key is to take the time and really get to know who you are hiring.  Remember, associates are often seen as extensions of you; therefore you want that person to come across as effectively as possible.

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