Associate Dentists: What Traits Do Practice Owners Want in Potential Candidates?

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Wed, May 24, 2017 @ 01:00 PM

aspen-efficiency.jpgDental students receive the clinical training necessary to become dentists while also developing a philosophy of patient care that will become the framework of their future practices. In this way, becoming an associate dentist after school comes with its own set of challenges once preparing for that big interview with an employer dentist or practice owner. Once graduates find that perfect associateship with a mentor that has a common way of thinking about treating patients, a new question soon emerges. Assuming a candidate and employer dentist have similar philosophies, how can one differentiate him or herself in the eyes of the interviewer?

Courtesy of Dr. Bianca Velayo, this recent THE NEXTDDS webinar entitled “7 Simple Strategies for Successful Associateship” highlights important qualities and character traits that practice owners desire in applicants and future associates in their practices.

Humble But Hungry

According to Dr. Velayo, practice owners want friendly, personable candidates; an associate dentist who can work cooperatively without any problems. Her presentation explained that experienced dentists are usually able to provide further clinical support to their associates, but they can’t teach attitude and how an associate approaches issues. A candidate should be willing to learn about all the facets of the practice, yet still be humble in his or her abilities. Candidates should know that they still have a lot left to learn. Are they driven to become better dentists?

Confident and Passionate

When candidates are asked that age-old interview question, “So, tell me about yourself,” it could be easy to blank on an appropriate or relevant answer. Candidates might even feel that they have so much they want to say, but don’t know where to start. All in all, interviewees should show the passion they have for dentistry. Have they volunteered? Taken advantage of ASDA events to learn more about the profession? Showing passion goes hand-in-hand with showing confidence, and candidates should make it clear that they are ready for the opportunity that an associateship brings them.

Ethical and Coachable

Can the practice owner put the trust in a candidate to handle patients with ease? Candidates might not have extensive experience coming out of school. Showing to the practice owner that one is coachable means being open to criticism and feedback. A candidate can be easily taught to keep up with the hustle of appointments, treatment, and the typical daily workday. Candidates should focus on patient care, not on money, buying power, or any other factors that might distract from important goals in the short-term.


While in dental school, candidates should take advantage of the resources that will help them out as much as possible during the job search. Networking, contributing with peers, and cultivating positive relationships will mean a successful future. Utilizing alumni and a dental school’s career services will also allow young dentists to be more knowledgeable about different options after graduation. To hear Dr. Velayo’s recommendations in their entirety, be sure to click here.

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Tags: associateship, personality traits, leadership traits

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