Associateship versus Partnership: Which Is Right For You?


Bringing on an associate or partner to your dental practice should be done when the patient demand warrants it. But which is right for your dental practice? Here’s how to figure that out.

Know your numbers

The number of active patients who visit the practice at least every 18 months is a clear indicator it’s time to take on an associate. While 1,500 active patients is considered full capacity for a single dentist, if the practice has more than 2,500 active patients, then the practice should be able to accommodate a full-time associate. The math goes: Every 200 to 250 active patients should be able to support one associate day per week. Along the same lines, if you are booked 80% of the time with a six-month advance, it may be time to bring on another doctor or look at your schedule.

Establish your practice

No matter which route you choose to go, taking on an associate or partner shouldn’t be done to build up your practice. Rather, there needs to be enough work for them from day one to make the deal worthwhile. If deciding on a partnership, the practice will need to be big enough both in terms of active patients and also collections and physical size. In general practices, that means collecting at least $1.2 million and $1.4 million to $1.6 million in specialty practices.

Assess your situation

The biggest consideration to note is associateships are only successful 20% of the time, while partnerships see a 60% success rate. Associates typically only last two years at most because of unset expectations in regard to patient assignment, salary, and timeframe for branching out and buy-in related to value, purchase price, and buy-in/buy-out terms.

What’s next?

Learn more about the different options for expanding your practice on the “Insights” blog and in the e-book “Strategies for Transition,” then contact the experts at Professional Transition Strategies to get the ball rolling.