Your First Associate…Growing Successfully

By Tom Snyder, Director The Snyder Group, a Division of Henry Schein Professional Practice Transitions


If your plans are to recruit an Associate in 2013 and you want to ensure you get the right candidate to join your practice, we can help you

Henry Schein Nationwide Dental Opportunities (HSNDO) can assist you with finding an Associate who meets your criteria. HSNDO maintains a large database of candidates throughout the country. Proper background screening is an important part of the recruitment process. It takes time to create and place classified ads, receive numerous phone calls from interested applicants, review résumés, check references and finally meet and interview the candidates. As part of its recruitment fee, HSNDO will perform those tasks for you, saving you and your team many hours of valuable time. In the end, you are presented only with candidates that match your criteria.

Once your candidate has been selected, here are a few points that you should consider to ensure your new doctor receives every opportunity to be successful.

Patient Reactivation

Reactivating patients is a key ingredient to properly integrating your new Associate into your practice. Saturated practices (i.e, practices that have an overabundance of patients) typically have retention problems; meaning, patients are not participating on a regular basis in your recare program. So, it’s logical to assume that if you reactivate these patients, your new Associate can see that patient first.

After the hygienist sees your reactivated patient, the Associate will do the recall examination. This is the perfect opportunity to allow your Associate to get to know the patient in a more relaxed setting. If treatment is needed, it can then be scheduled with the new doctor.

Introduction to Recall/Recare Patients

In addition to reactivated patients, another excellent way to introduce your new Associate is through your recall/recare program. These “non-threatening” appointments allow the new dentist to establish an initial rapport with your existing patients of record. For the first few months, the new dentist should spend a majority of their time seeing these patients.

When the patient is first seated, the hygienist should announce that Dr. Senior has asked Dr. Junior to do the checkup exam today. Dr. Senior wants the patient to meet Dr. Junior and for Dr. Junior to familiarize himself with the patient just in case the patient has a weekend emergency and Dr. Junior is the on-call doctor. When Dr. Junior comes in for the exam, the first thing he/she should do is share the same story.

If any treatment is required, the receptionist should offer two appointment options: one fairly soon with Dr. Junior and a second one further into the future with Dr. Senior. At this point, it will be the patient’s choice of which dentist will actually do the neccessary procedures.

When Dr. Senior starts to see vacancies in his schedule, he needs to resume doing more of the hygiene exams.

Scheduling Templates

We strongly recommend that you design a scheduling template for your new Associate. This template should incorporate a daily number of reactivation hygiene appointments until the reactivation process is complete. We suggest no more than four reactivation hygiene appointments be scheduled daily. This allows the Associate time to perform other clinical services, as well as meet production goals. Production goals can vary anywhere between $750 to $1,500, based on your fee schedule and the Associate’s clinical experience.


It is critical that your Associate learn how to do things the “right way” in your office. We recommend that you assign one of your key dental assistants to your Associate. Since, more than likely, you will be hiring a new dental assistant, the most logical person to train that new dental assistant is the practice owner, not the new Associate!

It is important to utilize experienced staff to orient your associate to your policies and procedures, especially in the clinical area. The final and most important reason why we believe this personnel assignment is necessary is to maintain quality control, by allowing you to observe the Associate’s patient management and communication skills and ensure proper recordkeeping protocol. Your experienced assistant will be your best ally in these areas.

Marketing Plan

Proper introduction to your patients is paramount. It’s important to have business cards printed, signage modified, Web site updated, as well as other marketing literature, such as a patient newsletter. We do not recommend that you announce your Associate’s affiliation to your entire patient base nor make any of the changes above, with the exception of the business cards, until the expiration of the probationary period, which is normally 60 to 90 days. So, in the unlikely event that the Associate is not the right candidate, only a handful of patients will be introduced, not your entire patient base!

Doctor Communication

Weekly Meetings
One of the common causes of failure of Associates is a lack of communication. We recommend weekly meetings for the first six months of your relationship, particularly if the Associate has limited clinical experience. The purpose of the weekly meeting is to discuss treatment planning, scheduling issues, and clinical matters. We also urge some “over-the-shoulder” training be encouraged for your Associate to observe more complicated clinical procedures.

Monthly Meetings
Monthly meetings should also be scheduled without fail. The purpose of these meetings is to review your Associate’s production and collection statistics, to discuss staffing issues, and gradually get him/her more involved in the management aspects of your practice. It’s also a good idea to review ways to attract new patients on your Associate’s efforts. Developing the habit of scheduling regular meetings will bode well for the future when you eventually become partners.

Taking all these steps and investing a proper amount of time will reduce the possibility of failure when employing your first Associate and will also ensure long-term success.

For more information, please call 1-866-409-3001, e-mail or visit