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5 things to consider before taking that job

Good news — you just received a job offer. Before you accept, you need to determine if the job is a good fit. Here are some questions to consider asking.

What will your responsibilities be?

Ask questions! How many clinical hours will you be expected to work? If it's 32, you'll likely put in 40 hours total doing treatment planning and other paperwork. What will the working hours be in relation to the hours the practice is open? For instance, if the practice is open late three nights a week and you were expecting more of an 8-to-5 schedule, this might not be the right practice for you. You may want the responses included in a written employment contract.

Speaking of employment contracts, what are some things to consider before signing?

Dentist employment contracts are legally binding agreements between a dentist and the dental practice. Among the questions dentists should consider:

  • What is the length of the contract? Does it automatically renew?
  • Is the position salaried or per diem?
  • What are the benefits offered?
  • Are there any limitations if the dentist leaves the practice? Is there a restrictive covenant in place?

The ADA has fact sheets —  Dentist Employment Agreements: A Guide to Key Legal Provisions , Business Services Agreements with DSOs: What a Dentist Should Know , and Compensation as an Employee or Associate Dentist — that are free to ADA members and available for download. To get appropriate legal and professional advice, the ADA recommends dentists consult directly with a properly qualified attorney admitted to practice in their jurisdiction.

When was the last time the owner raised fees?

Before accepting a position in an established practice, it's a good idea to ask when the practice last raised fees. Ideally, ADA Practice Transitions recommends that practices review their fees annually to keep fees in line with the local market and avoid big price increases that deter patients. This is especially important for owners to do before bringing on a new dentist. If fees go up right after a new dentist joins, the dentist may be seen as greedy. The ADA Survey of Dental Fees helps dentists see how the practice lines up with other local practices.

Is there an ownership path?

In many cases, an associate-to-owner path can be a win-win for all involved: A growing group or an owner who is a few years from retirement mentors someone into the practice — in clinical and business skills — while the incoming dentist learns from an expert. Don't rule out practices just because they don't immediately fit your vision. And it's even better if you work in the space for a year to learn the flow of the place as you may discover a better layout or realize the well-maintained equipment still has plenty of life.

Is there work-life balance?

Many new dentists are trying to balance their new careers with the responsibilities of a growing family. But sometimes small practices can be even more challenging, particularly those in rural communities where you may be the only dentist. Make sure to get a clear picture of what your typical workday will be like. Try and talk to as many people who work at the business as possible to make sure the environment works for you.

For more ADA practice management resources, visit ADA.org/practicemanagement.


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