We recently interviewed a doctor who had previously hired four associates who used to work in his practice, and all of them had left and either joined another practice or had moved down the street and established their own practice nearby. This doctor made the statement that associateships don't work. This is an excerpt of the conversation:

AFTCO: “Did you make a commitment of any kind as to the associate's future in the practice?”
DOCTOR: “No.”

AFTCO: “Did any associate make a commitment to you as to what he or she would try to contribute to your practice?”
DOCTOR: “No. They only wanted to know what I could do for them.”

AFTCO: “Did you have a written contract with the associate outlining each party's rights, responsibilities, and obligations, plus an understanding as to how they would acquire equity in your practice?”
DOCTOR: “No, I wanted to see if we liked each other before I paid for a contract to be written.”

AFTCO: “Did you share your patients with the associates?”
DOCTOR: “No. I was never sure they were going to stay with the practice, so I didn't introduce them to many of my patients. I let them get their own patients!”

AFTCO: “So you were not willing to commit to anything in writing, to offer them any guaranteed future if they stayed on?”
DOCTOR: “No. I would have later on, but they never stayed around long enough to find out what I was willing to do.”

AFTCO: “Did the associates ever describe what their future goals were?”
DOCTOR: “Most of them told me anything to get the job. Most of them were looking to set up their own practice from the first day they started to work with me. I don't understand why, I would have been willing to work something out later on, but they didn't hang around long enough. They just moved down the street and set up their own practice.”

AFTCO: “How much money did you save by not having a contract written?”
DOCTOR: “I don't know . . . a little I guess.”

AFTCO: “How much money did you lose every time an associate left and took all those patients with him?”
DOCTOR: “A lot of money.”

AFTCO: “In summary, you did not research their needs and goals, you held back your patients from them, you did not commit to a method or a time for acquiring equity in your practice, you never determined the associates goals nor asked for a commitment from them. You offered no future to the associate other than an ambiguous "we'll work something out later," and worse yet, some of them moved down the street and took some of your practice with them. In the end, this costs you a tremendous amount of money and time in lost business and new competition. You have used this experience as a means of determining that associateships don't work. In other words, you did everything wrong, and the conclusion you draw is that associateships must not work, even if you do it the right way every time. Does this sound logical to you?”
DOCTOR: It doesn't sound logical when you look at it that way.

Good working professional relationships require thought, time and planning, and a written agreement that provides the details of what has been agreed to by the parties. Fairness is the main ingredient that makes it all work, and it can only come about by using dual representation. If you want to a plan for practice succession that works, then call AFTCO today.

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