Dental Associate Contracts – what are they and what do they contain? 

Dental associate contracts refer to agreements between a dentist (the principal or practice owner) and a dental associate (an employed or contracted dentist) outlining the terms and conditions of their working relationship. These contracts are essential to establish clear expectations and protect the interests of both parties involved. Here are some key points typically covered in dental associate contracts:

  1. Employment Status: The contract should specify whether the dental associate will be an employee or an independent contractor. This determination is important for tax and legal purposes.
  2. Term of Agreement: The contract should state the duration of the agreement, including the start date and, if applicable, the end date or conditions for termination.
  3. Associate Responsibilities: The contract should outline the scope of the dental associate’s duties and responsibilities, including clinical duties, administrative tasks, and any other relevant obligations.
  4. Work Schedule: It should specify the dental associate’s work hours, days of the week they are expected to work, and any on-call or weekend responsibilities.
  5. Compensation: The contract should detail the dental associate’s compensation, which may include a base salary, a percentage of collections, or a combination of both. It should also mention the frequency of payments.
  6. Benefits: Any benefits the dental associate is entitled to should be clearly stated, such as health insurance, retirement plans, vacation days, sick leave, etc.
  7. Non-Compete Clause: This clause may restrict the dental associate from working in a competing dental practice within a specified geographic area and for a certain period after leaving the current practice.
  8. Termination & Notice Period: The contract should specify the conditions under which either party can terminate the agreement and the notice period required.
  9. Professional Development: If there are opportunities for the dental associate’s professional development, such as attending conferences or taking courses, these should be addressed in the contract.
  10. Ownership of Records: The contract should clarify the ownership of patient records and any intellectual property created during the associate’s employment.
  11. Malpractice Insurance: It should be clear whether the dental associate is covered under the principal’s malpractice insurance or required to carry their own.
  12. Dispute Resolution: The contract may outline the process for resolving disputes between the parties, such as through mediation or arbitration.
  13. HIPAA: A HIPAA compliance clause is almost always included.

It is crucial for both the principal and the dental associate to thoroughly review the contract. Having a trained attorney review your contract is crucial. Each contract may vary depending on the specific circumstances and the preferences of the parties involved. Making sure you understand the legal language contained within the four corners of your contract will protect you in both the short term and the long run.