So you’re facing a decision in your clinic – to hire an associate or not? Only you know the answer for what’s best for your practice, but I will give the information necessary to make an informed decision. Maybe you need the extra hands to help continue to build your practice and continue to serve your community by seeing more new patients. Maybe you need someone to assist you in covering the office when you need to be in the field giving public speaking lectures or are just taking a well-earned break. Maybe you just want to help your profession by mentoring and moulding a young new clinician. Whatever the case, the decision is a very important one and require consideration and planning. So why have an associate?
To continue growing your practice solo, you can always work twice as hard or raise your prices through the roof, but there is a better solution – hiring additional associates to your team and have them assist you in various areas of the practice necessary for expansion. It’s a win-win situation for everyone – the Director, the associate(s), and the patients. You get the extra help you need to increase patient levels and practice income, the associate gets much needed experience, and the patients always have a caring clinician available to treat them. You must realise, however, that creating a successful associate practice is not easy. They can work, and work well, but they must be done right – with the proper forms, contracts, guidelines, financial arrangements, expectations, training, etc.
Here are some advantages as well as disadvantages you must consider before making your decision.
Advantages of Having an Associate:
- Take care of more patients;
- Additional practice income;
- Use your clinic to its maximum capacity;
- Chance to mentor a young clinician;
- A sounding board for ideas;
- Possibly bringing in a speciality you don’t have;
- Learning something new from the new clinician fresh out of school (up-to-date information);
- Back-up in the office for days off and emergencies;
- Assistance with other responsibilities.
Disadvantages of Having an Associate:
- Possibly lose patients/staff during training;
- Time and energy spent properly training;
- Relationship can sour if not nurtured;
- New clinician has ulterior motives;
- Increased overhead expenses due to inexperience or poor training;
- If not managed properly, may create a practice within your practice;
- New clinician is looking for a ‘free lunch’.
So What Are Possible Reasons Not To Hire An Associate?
With any practice & business decision you make, the decision is based on need and purpose. The same consideration should be made about hiring an associate. There will be reasons, but are they the right ones that best serve you, your clinic, and your patients?
An associate will not be of assistance to you if you are considering hiring an associate for any of these reasons:
- Not enough patients;
- Not enough retention;
- Too much stress;
- To take more time off;
- You don’t’ want to work as hard;
- You’re looking for a marketing screener;
- You’re looking for a receptionist that can treat some patients as well;
- You want to put a clinician in your place as the head clinician and leave without giving them proper training;
- You feel like your practice is failing;
- You want to make more money quickly or feel it will increase your capacity;
- You aren’t sure what the associate will do until they “get busy”.
If you’re hoping an associate can fill any of these holes, then it is best to reconsider your decision. Your search will only frustrate you and the person you hire.