How to Hire the Best Dental Associates

Our friends at ETS Dental recently posted this wonderful blog on their site. With their permission, I am reposting it here.

Confessions of a Dental Recruiter

Written by Mark Kennedy, Managing Director of ETS Dental.

Sooner or later, every practice is faced with seeking a new Associate, Partner or Owner. In the past twelve months ETS Dental has recruited and placed more than 200 Dentists with independent practices and clinics around the country and some of the lessons we’ve learned may be beneficial to you when it comes time to bring a new dentist into your practice.

The best candidate already has a job

As a whole, the population of Dentists is truly at full-employment. Most great candidates are employed, but passively seeking a better long-term opportunity. In fact, only one out of every 20 Dentists we place come as a direct result of an ad…the rest come from networking.

There’s a reason the best opportunities aren’t advertised

The best associate or partnership opportunities are rarely advertised. If a practice is losing a key associate it is typically in the best interest of the practice NOT to advertise this fact until a replacement is found. Some patients and key staff will certainly leave if they know their Dentist is leaving the practice.

The best time to start looking is early

There is an old Chinese saying, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.”

Very few good candidates are desperate for change. The vast majority are willing to wait a few months or a few years. Likewise, no one practices forever…there is usually an identifiable window of opportunity when a partner would like to step back or retire…the closer a practice waits until that time, the more they limit their options.

Practice Owners with a plan hire the best Associates

Interview preparation is a two-way street. While much has been written to help the potential hire prepare for an interview, we have found it equally essential for interviewers to have specific communication goals to achieve through the interview process. Let’s face it, most dental practices conduct comparatively few interviews.

If you found the “perfect associate candidate,” I can guarantee you that your perfect candidate probably has multiple options. Have a plan in place. Do you have a sample contract? How will the associate be compensated? Would he or she be offered a buy-in? If you can’t answer these questions, you will lose the best candidates.

Relocation, relocation, relocation

More that 60 percent of the dentists we recruit and place relocate. Many are looking for the opportunity. Many are looking to get closer to the people or places they love. Dentists coming out of a residency or the military are nearly always located in a different city or state. When you are looking for a new associate, you probably won’t find them in your own back yard.

Whether you are a practice owner looking for a candidate or a Dentist seeking a long-term practice opportunity, the moral of the story is the same:

• Start looking far in advance.

• Work hard to find multiple options.

• Be prepared if the right opportunity or candidate comes available.

The best candidate or practice for you may be somewhere you don’t expect.

This blog originally appeared on the Dental Recruiter Blog.

Send your questions to Tim Lott, CPA, CVA at

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