Dental Associate Contract

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What is a Dental Associate Contract?

A dental associate contract is a legally binding document between a dental practice and an associate dentist. This document outlines the terms of employment, which have previously been agreed upon through negotiations. Another name for this document is a dental employment agreement.

How to Become an Associate Dentist?

An associate dentist is a non-owner dentist that works within a dental practice. Typically, these are younger dentists that have not made the leap in starting their own practice and have chosen to get a job with a dentist that already has an established practice.

Associate dentists can either be hired as a full-time employee or an independent contractor, depending on what the dental practice needs. As a full-time employee, you will typically be offered benefits, which includes insurance, retirement plans, etc. Independent contractors need to pay for their own insurance and benefits.

Key Parts of a Dental Associate Contract

Independent Contractor vs. Employee

Before discussing the key components of a dental associate contract, it is important to determine whether you will be working as an independent contractor of full-time employee. These are two very different classifications that can have big implications on both employer and employee obligations.

On a high level, full-time employees will receive benefits from their employer and take greater direction. Independent contractors are self-employed, need to pay for their own benefits, and have more flexibility on when and where they work.

Here is an article that go over the difference between an Independent Contractor vs. Employee .

Now, let’s get into the key parts of a dental employment contract.

  • Compensation, Wages, Salary: This is the part of the agreement that outlines the wage, salary, or earnings the employer is responsible in paying the employee.
  • Role and Duties: This is the part of the contract that goes over your day-to-day responsibilities as an associate dentist.
  • Qualifications: This it the part of the contract that goes over the required qualifications needed for the job.
  • Benefits: This is the section that outlines the benefits you will be receiving from your employer, which can include health insurance and retirement fund contributions.
  • Term and Termination: This is the part of the contract that outlines the length of employment and how it can be ended by either party.
  • Liability Insurance : This is the part of the contract that goes over what party is responsible for securing insurance.
  • Non-Competition: This is the part of the contract that goes over the employee’s ability to work for other dental practices in the future.
  • Dispute Resolution: This is the part of the contract that outlines the procedures in case there is a dispute between the employer dentist and associate dentist.

Here is a paper written by the ADA Center for Professional Success about the terms within a dental employment contract.

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Negotiating a Dental Employment Contract

As with any contract, dental employment contracts are negotiable. You just need to be willing to take the risk in hearing ‘no’. In some circumstances, if you take a negotiation too far you may lose your offer as the employer may not think it is worth the time or expect the employee to be a problem in the future.

If there are any parts of the agreement that you have questions about or may be troublesome, feel free to engage a dental lawyer for help. They will help guide you on what terms are considered ‘par’ for the industry and what terms you may afford to push back on. It is always wise to get outside help so you do not end up in a bad relationship without the rights you deserve.

Here is an article from Tufts School of Dental Medicine on considerations for your contracts.


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Other Types of Dental Contracts

Employment contracts are popular within dental practices since dentists need a lot of help in the office if they want to grow their practice. There are other types of contracts that are also worth noting, which are below:

Getting Help with Your Dental Associate Contract

Many dentists earn high salaries, so it is worth investing in help to make sure you are signing a contract that protects your rights. ContractsCounsel has many lawyers on its platform that can assist with reviewing your Dental Associate Contract. Post a project for free to get bids from qualified lawyers.

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