Whether you just graduated from dental school, finished a residency program or specialty training, the majority of young dentists begin their careers as associates. The road to becoming an associate is full of variables, and knowing the “lay of the land” can help you make wise decisions. The journey begins with choosing the practice that is right for you.
Consideration #2 – Employment Relationship
Do not enter into a relationship without a written contract. A well-designed employment agreement will address many issues, including your role in the practice, non-competition agreement (if applicable), non-solicitation agreement, your compensation, and possible option to purchase. Additionally, realize that non-solicitation and non-compete clauses are common business practices, which protect the employer dentist from unscrupulous tactics. Non-solicitation means that you may not directly solicit any patients or staff for a specified period after you leave the practice.
Non-compete clauses may vary. Moreover, in some states they are not enforced. For those states that enforce non-compete clauses, they have to be crafted fairly. The geographic limitations in covenants are based on local convention in a specific area and must be considered to be reasonable. For example, a 10-mile covenant restriction in a major metropolitan area would probably not be enforceable for a general dentist, whereas one-to-two-miles would be considered reasonable. Restrictive covenants for specialties tend to have a larger geographic range since the number of specialists is fewer. The duration of a non- compete ranges between one-to-two years.
When you join a general dental practice, a non-compete clause stipulation should not take effect completely until you are employed for 12 months. A gradual approach, which allows the first 6 months of employment to be free of covenant and penalty, with subsequent periods of increasing restriction, is more appropriate. In cases of specialty practices where the employer is introducing the associate to the referral base, the graduated approach would be modified and have a shorter timeframe for increasing restriction.
Read more on Becoming an Associate at http://www.thenewdentist.net/Library/index.htm