By Bryan Stimmler, Advisory Board Member
What a loaded question! We’ve all heard the horrors of associating, the long thankless hours, the loaded schedules, lack of help/mentorship, etc. But have you heard any of the good stories?
Let’s start at the beginning here. First, do you know what you want out of the next three years? The next one year? The next month? That is where you need to start. Really sit down and analyze what you want to accomplish. “I want to get my speed up” is not an analysis. It’s repeating a sentence you’ve heard someone else say. What are your goals for your time in this profession? Be honest here. You can accept the stresses of ownership and working for yourself and take that path. If you value time over money, associating can be a beautiful thing. If you don’t want to deal with management, crunching numbers, or dealing with team members, that is OK. Just understand what you want in your future, because you alone control your future.
And here’s the silver lining: YOU CAN ALWAYS CHANGE!
So, you know what you want now. You can learn A LOT from being an associate. Some of this is dependent on you, some on your owner doc. Working in someone else’s office affords you a mentor, so choose wisely. You can sit back and learn systems, scheduling, billing, all of the things, if you take the opportunity. This is immensely helpful if you plan on opening your own office in the future. You can learn at your own pace, and choose what you want to learn as you get your feet wet. You may find you love surgery. Great! Go after that surgery CE and use this situation as practice.
Here’s a little-spoke-of aspect of associateship you may not have heard. You can learn all of the things you DON’T want to do. This is crazy valuable. Take a step back and look at all of the things that annoy you, that don’t work, that cause frustration to not only yourself but the team as well. Write them down, think about how they could be changed, altered, or improved. You now have a blueprint for how you would like to set your own office up.
Whatever path you choose, choose wisely, and do it with intent.
Dr. Stimmler graduated in 2009 from the University of Southern California School of Dentistry. After completing residency and practicing as an associate, he started a private practice in Brooklyn, NY which focuses on complete care and cosmetic dentistry.