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Almost There! How to Prepare to Transition from Dental Student to Associate

Whew! Give yourself a great big pat on the back. The last four years have been TOUGH!

You may have passed your national boards and your requirements are almost complete. You feel as prepared as possible for your licensure exams — maybe you have even already passed them already!

Before you jump on that flight to the Caribbean, take some steps to ensure you are prepared for the next step in your career. For most new graduates, that will be some sort of clinical position, usually as an associate.

So how can you make that transition from student to professional as seamless as possible?

Step 1: Continue to improve your hand skills and speed

Many recent grads worry, “How am I going to increase my speed and justify my salary? Especially since I had to hand off all my patients to other students who need the requirements.”

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Topics: associateship, Real Talk

Student Loans? Cut Your Debt in Half (or More)

Dental school graduates know the pain of student loans all too well. The American Dental Education Association estimates that 2021 graduates were saddled with an average of $301,583 in loans

However, don’t let your dental school loans deter you from building the career you’ve always dreamed of! 

Whether you’re looking for that first associateship or striving for practice ownership, there are ways to pay off your loans on someone else’s dime. The federal government, states, and even local municipalities have created a host of programs that can ease the burden. Refinancing can help, too — as can a bit of creativity. 

Read on for some possible ways to cut your dental debt. 

Check the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

The U.S. Department of Education Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is accepting applications through October 31, 2022 — so if you haven’t checked your own eligibility, take a minute to do so now! Even if you can only get $10-20K in forgiveness, it is worth taking the time to fill out the paperwork.

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Topics: incoming, associateship, Real Talk

What’s Next: How to Plan for the Dental Career of Your Dreams


As you think about the end of dental school, or how to plan your career, you’re probably wondering, “What's next?”

Far too often, I hear dental students say something like, “My only option is to grab the first job I can find. I know I’m going to be miserable while I increase my speed and clinical skills.” But you don’t need to feel that way!

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Topics: associateship, coffee talks

Practice Profile: High Integrity, Low Cost of Living

Posted by Bree Simmers on 12/27/19 8:45 AM

Join this practice as an associate dentist. The owner dentist is committed to the long-term patients and communities the practice serves. This owner understands that there is more to being happy and productive at work than an excellent salary so, along with a comprehensive benefit package that includes a CE allowance, paid vacation and bonus systems, he recognizes significant milestones in the team’s lives with gifts and staff appreciation parties.

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Topics: associateship, practice profiles

Why ADA Practice Transitions Isn’t Just Another Broker

Posted by Bill Robinson, ADAPT President & CEO on 10/1/19 9:03 AM

In April, the American Dental Association launched a pilot for a new service: ADA Practice Transitions. Our goal is to make the process of joining, expanding, or leaving a dental practice more predictable and successful. The pilot is currently available in Wisconsin and Maine for all dentists looking for opportunities in those states.

Some have said that the ADA is just replicating the current broker market. While there is some natural overlap, ADA Practice Transitions takes a completely new approach that’s designed to address a major need: finding the right person or practice for a successful transition.

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Topics: owner dentist, associateship, purchase a practice

Transition Tales: Why Practice Transitions Should Be a Family Affair

Posted by Bree Simmers on 9/17/19 9:05 AM

This is part of the Transition Tales & Truths series in which we discuss practice transitions with real dentists currently in the process.

We recently met Dr. Joe, a recent graduate working in a DSO with dreams of buying his own dental practice. Dr. Joe joined ADA Practice Transitions to pursue his goals and is working with his ADA Advisor to narrow down the best path forward.

The “life” in “work-life” balance is very important to Dr. Joe and his family. The desire to build a good life for his family guides every step of his journey.

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Topics: incoming dentist, owner, looking for a job, associateship, purchase a practice, transition tales

Transition Tales: Navigating a Path to Ownership

Posted by Bree Simmers on 9/10/19 9:05 AM

This is part of the Transition Tales & Truths series in which we discuss practice transitions with real dentists currently in the process.

Meet Dr. Joe. He’s a year out of dental school, working in a DSO in a new-to-him city. He grew up on a farm and watched his parents run their own business – and has always wanted to do likewise.

Dr. Joe’s first year of practice has given him real-world experience by letting him focus on dentistry. Working in a DSO has exposed him to a variety of staff characteristics and helped him crystallize what his ideal team might look like.

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Topics: incoming dentist, owner, looking for a job, associateship, purchase a practice, transition tales

What Went Wrong Wednesdays: My Restrictive Covenant Was Too Restrictive

Welcome to “What Went Wrong Wednesdays,” a series in which we explore common problems of practice transitions – and offer tips to help you avoid them.

Many dental contracts include some version of a restrictive covenant, also called a non-compete clause. These clauses prohibit an employee from practicing within a specific geographical area (typically a defined radius) for a certain period of time after leaving a practice. These covenants generally also have a non-solicitation clause that will bar an associate from directly soliciting the employer’s patients or other employees.

This clause helps protect an owner dentist from competition – but it can also limit an associate’s career movement.

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Topics: incoming dentist, retiring, owner, associateship, purchase a practice, what went wrong

What Went Wrong: 3 Contract Issues that Got Expensive


Written contracts protect both sides from misunderstandings and can put your relationship on equal ground. No matter whether you are joining a practice as an associate, intending to pursue a sale/purchase, or hiring someone, a contract helps you start your relationship on the right foot.

This week, we will examine three scenarios where contract misunderstandings turned into more serious problems. The ADA offers an eBook, Dentist Employment Agreements: A Guide to Key Legal Provisions, that includes a wealth of details and sample contract language, plus several shorter articles on compensation, malpractice insurance, non-competes, and more. 

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Topics: incoming dentist, retiring, owner, associateship, purchase a practice, what went wrong

Don’t Settle: Identify the Ideal Practice for You

There’s no such thing as a typical dental practice. They can range from homey rural offices to busy urban spaces, with everything in between.

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Topics: incoming dentist, associateship, purchase a practice

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