You’re sitting at a table across from a dentist who is twice your age, has way more clinical experience, and seems to be pretty darn successful. You’re being interviewed for a job as an associate and so far the place looks nice. But maybe you’ve been burned before or have had friends who talked about nightmare associate jobs. Is there any way to find out if this job is going to be fantastic or a flop?
Always keep in mind that you are not being interviewed. You and the owner dentist are interviewing each other. You have tremendous skills and energy that will be a great asset to this dentist. And you can certainly bring your talents elsewhere. You are also interviewing the owner dentist to see if this office will be a good fit for you. Along those lines, you should come prepared with a few questions of your own. If you hear answers that you don’t like, you may want to turn down a job offer.
(1) Staff turnover
If the dentist has been practicing for twenty five years, I don’t like to see an office manager who has only been there for two. Yes, staff will retire, move away, or change career paths. But you shouldn’t see continual turnover with front desk, assistants, and hygienists. This can be a sign that the owner dentist is either unpleasant to work with, cheap, or both.
(2) Unreasonable contracts
The first handful of months should be a dating period between you and the office. You’re finding out if this is going to be a place that you can call home. You absolutely should not sign any documents that contain a restrictive covenant or other binding legal definitions. What if you only work there for three weeks before quitting? You and the dentist should agree on how you will get paid, hours worked, and the like, and it is fine to put that in writing so that you’re on the same page. It can also be done with a verbal contract if it’s simple enough. You should know if the office will be right for you within a couple of months. In that time, it isn’t possible to “steal” the dentist’s patients so there is no need to sign a restrictive covenant. If a dentist is forcing you to sign contracts before this point, you should walk away.
(3) Very outdated office
A dentist can produce outstanding work in an office that hasn’t been updated since 1985. No digital radiographs, no practice management software, and no devices like CEREC or lasers. That dentist might still be fantastic without those toys, but it should raise your eyebrow. As you take a tour of the office, look for modern equipment. If the dentist doesn’t use digital radiography, is he/she planning on making the switch soon? What about the décor? Patients will judge an office to be dirty and old-fashioned if they see shag carpeting.