By DR SIMON HOCKEN
So, you qualified a decade ago from a good dental school, you’ve served your time in the NHS and dabbled with providing some private solutions for NHS patients. You’ve acquired some post graduate skills and you have a special interest in an area of dentistry that patients will willingly pay for. Now you’re ready for that fabulous associate job, interesting work, nice people (patients and team) and good money (in excess of £100k/annum and preferably in excess of £130k/annum).
If it were me, my first criteria would be to find an area of the country that I wanted to live in (my passion is boating so it’s an imperative for me that I live near the sea) and then I’d find out which are the good practices in this area (who really wants to commute?). Also, it helps to get to know the catchment you are going to serve. And then I’d contact the principals of these practices and offer them the chance to work with an associate who will:
- Gross between £1,200 and £2,400/day by offering patients choices and comprehensive treatment plans
- Do competent, painless, long lasting restorative dentistry
- Build a book by establishing long term, high trust relationships with patients
- Be flexible about practice opening hours
- Attend practice meetings and practice social events without asking to be paid for turning up
- Look like a professional dentist, start and run on time
- Not insist on being paid for every little thing, help out with emergency patients and agree to do out of hours cover
- Accept that part of the role is to help build a book/patient base and that gaps in the book are opportunities
- Commit to a long term relationship with the practice and don’t open your own practice nearby and try and steal the patients
And in return, you would expect from the principal(s):
- A vision and a growth plan for the practice with a decent business development plan and marketing budget and a history of implementing such a plan
- 45 per cent after lab, paid on time, no quibbles
- A fair contract with a fair barring out clause
- A well-equipped, compliant surgery including: good materials, great hand-pieces, intra-oral camera, digital radiography, screen for the patient to see, air conditioning, non-clinical area or room to discuss treatment options
- Six weeks holiday/CPD (dentistry is stressful and tiring, you need proper holidays)
- Great support from highly trained hygienists, nurses and receptionists
- Good internal practice communication so that you’re not the last to know what’s going on
- A fair distribution of patients and new patients
- To feel part of a professional family
There seems to be an increasing amount of antipathy between principals and associates. The reasons are easy to see. Greedy principles (and some greedy corporates) are willing to take advantage of the current oversupply of available dentists by offering terrible terms and conditions in return for a job in a run-down, under-invested practice and then they have their prejudices confirmed by a large number of applications from barely competent associates who are unable (or unwilling) to gross more than £800/day. Yet the irony is that both parties need each other in order to make anything except the smallest practice work properly!
Put all this together and in amongst this muddle are fantastic opportunities. We know of lovely practices who struggle to find good associates, particularly away from the South East, and we know of great associates who can’t find a decent practice to call home. Perhaps the saddest outcome of all this is the number of associates who have to find a series of part time jobs, often many miles apart, rather than find one good practice to work in.
So, here’s a great offer from Breathe: if you are the sort of associate who can (truthfully) match the criteria on my list, or a principal who can (truthfully) do the same with my second list, let me know and I will try and put you in touch with each other.
Happy New Year!
- 07770 430576