2) Buy your own equipment when you can and take it with you (use like a travel trolley).
3) If your not happy where you work try to make it better initially, if it doesn't improve - leave. If you can't find anything, improve your portfolio, social media presence and speak to the owners of places you want to work in.
4) All interviews are quite informal as they want to see if they like you, if you will get on with the team etc. At the interview look at the book/diary closely. Speak to previous associate where possible. Find out any negatives if you can. They may even hide the reality of the job from you initially. If they have a high staff turnover i.e. dentists have been there less than 1-2 years and more than 2-3 staff left in the last 6-12 months - be concerned.
5) Really read the contract and keep a digital and manual copy of this.
Clarify the following:
- The exact hours you will be working. I.e. as you are technically an associate and not an employee - you can leave whenever you want if there are no patients. One owner once basically said that if the opening hours are 9-5 then even if there are no patients then I must stay the whole time (which was completely not in my contract) - but he was like "I only want team players". Principals tend to manipulate and bully associates quite a lot because you are in a position of weakness (but at the same time it is tough to find a good associate).
So clearly discuss if you have to be there, or if there is an emergency do they expect you to come in. What is the emergency on call rota? Do you have to work Saturdays? Do you have to come in for all training, staff meetings etc.
Note your percentages...
If on a sliding scale you need to be shown how to work it our yourself... DO NOT ACCEPT A JOB unless you can work out this percentage yourself (as they could make a 'mistake'). If they say they use a computer algorithm - you must be able to see it and calculate it (its basic maths and you are not an idiot!).
You need to be shown... are you paid from your allocated payments (ie actually what you get paid from patients and not the gross receipts). Essentially you need to record how much you get paid total everyday and lab bills and be able to calculate at the end of the month yourself what you should be paid.
There is often a discrepancy (it is YOUR responsibility that you check you are getting paid the right amount).
I once worked in a clinic that after I left I said I would come back and deal with any issues as a gesture of goodwill and to keep any costs down.
So a bridge needed re-cementing. So the clinic contacted me blocked off some time and I cemented the bridge. I was then presented with a £250.00 invoice for usage of the room - not being told about this beforehand.
Also I did a root canal and crown that failed. Potentially due to a missed canal/fracture. Without telling me they had organised a consultation with a specialist in the practice, a ct scan, a full refund to the patient at over £2000.00. They then said even though they got paid the larger percentage of all my work, that because it was due to operator error that I was liable for all of this. Now Ive never worked in a clinic where they did this - it is wrong. I don't want the same thing to happen to you.
At least 3 practices where I worked kept all the retainers and never gave any of it back - no patient notes
- no justification
- no documentation
The pretend like they are ethical but are far from it.
please don't be an idiot like me and make these same mistakes. They will take advantage of the fact you do not want to be sued and that they have all the income.
Clearly define at the beginning in your contract what your retainer will be and when it will be released back to you EXACTLY and if the situation above happens whether it will be split between you and the practice as it should be or you are going to get shafted with the total bill. They should not remove anything from your retainer without your permission (this myst be written in the contract), if a patient wants a refund it needs to be authorised by you.
Life as an associate is hard but it is also equally tough as an owner. My advice is if you are associate always develop a get out plan... either become a partner or buy your own place eventually. Sometimes its worth speaking to dental accountants, practice sales people, going to local CPD evenings and seeing if there are any opportunities.
Ive worked at some nice places and some not so nice. In general I found a lot of owners quite controlling and restrict ones clinic freedom. I found some to become greedy with money... they are often millionaires and want to keep every penny from you.
I found that a lot of will be very critical of you and expect you to take it really positively but they can never take criticism well and are very hypocritical (they honestly think they are always right and perfect and can't understand why anyone would say anything else or heaven forbid leave). I have found they will organise a lot pointless meetings to nit pick at you when in fact they are a mess themselves and will never leave you alone to get on with the job - there is always something.
I vowed as a practice owner I would never be like this and am glad that I learned these lessons.
At the end of the day I didn't want the hassle and very rarely argue with people so I just politely moved on and closed that chapter in the book. I do not hold grudges as I believe its not good for you. I do not forget though. I really do believe in Karma, I believe that if you are dodgy and try to abuse people it will come back to haunt you at some stage. Its tough not to get angry and be the better person and just suck it up - so I advise you find a good outlet for your frustrations.
I hope this helps one person.