How Much Should a Dentist Get for CE Expenses? | Continuing Education Cost for a Dental Associate
How much should a dentist get for continuing education from their employer annually? If you are an employee of the practice, they’ll offer you benefits, or at least they should provide you with. And that will include health, vision, dental, retirement, disability, and life. Then they’ll pay for your licensing dues, DEA, and registration. And then they’ll also, or at least they should offer reimbursement for your CE costs each year. A dentist’s average amount would be somewhere between $2,000 to $3,000 a year. The employer would reimburse you or pay for the cost.
What Things Can You Pay For?
And so, what things can you pay for? Well, if you must travel to the conference, the travel costs, so airfare, car rental, the price of admission to the conference, and lodging, some will also pay for meals. That is an average amount. Now, I find many dental practices, especially corporate-owned ones, try to lowball the dentist on the amount they’re going to pay for CE. I mean, I see like 500 to 1,000 sometimes. That is not what I consider reasonable, and you should certainly ask for more before signing your employment agreement.
Things to Consider in Signing an Employment Contract
When you are offered an employment contract, you need to look at it in totality; is the compensation good? Is the non-compete reasonable? How long is the contract? How can I get out of it?
And then also, what are some of the benefits that they’re offering? Although 2,000 or 3000 a year is going to break the bank, it’s still something that the average employer would pay for. Suppose you were entertaining a job, or they didn’t offer reimbursement. In that case, not only is that not industry standard, but you also have to think, what type of employer is this?
Employers Cutting Corners
I find that the employers that cut corners as far as compensating the dentist or offering ancillary benefits are maybe not the most significant employers to work for. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the practice owner is cheap. But if 90 percent of your colleagues are getting at least 2000 for continuing education on an annual basis. Your employer says we’re not going to pay for anything. Well, that might indicate that they’re either semi-difficult to work with, trying to completely skew the employment contract towards the employer, or potentially cheap.
What else will they do if they want to cut corners with that? It could be other things as well. If you want to negotiate this amount, you must ask for it. Usually, what would happen if you’d get an employment contract, you’d look it over, and then you’d make a list of things you wanted to be amended. Then you’d provide that list of the employer and then specifically ask for it. I want X amount for CE. And then, there could be some negotiating back and forth. Any dentist has to make a priority list of things that are important to them.
Proper Contract Negotiation Practice
If the non-compete, Suppose the compensation percentage if you’re on productivity and under a net collections contract. In that case, if those things are more important to you, then you may need to weigh them. Is it worth asking for 2000 for continuing education if I want a $20,000 signing bonus? There is a point, and it’s not black and white, but there is a point in a contract negotiation where you can ask for too many things. And it looks like you are either greedy or trying to get one over on the employer. Just from doing this for decades, I can understand where that point is.
But if you ask for unreasonable things, it could go the opposite way, and the employer could think, you know what? I don’t know if this is an employee I want to work with. They’re just asking for so many different things. And they’re being unreasonable, which might be a bad sign for working with the dentist in the future. It goes both ways. So, that’s how much CE costs, or at least the average amount a dentist would receive per year from an employer.
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How Much PTO Should a Dental Associate Get? | How Many Days of Time Off Should a Dentist Get?
How much time off should a dentist get? Let’s say you’re a dental associate, you’re looking at a new contract, and then they’re offering you a certain amount of time off with the professional benefits package. Is it fair how much they’re offering you? First, let’s talk about what goes into paid time off. PTOs, known as paid time off, usually include four things. It’ll have vacation days, sick days, holidays, and continuing education (CE). If you add all of those up, that’s the number that matters. If you have ten days of vacation, seven federal holidays, five days for CE, and five sick days, if you add all of those up, it could be a reasonable amount.
How Many Days of Vacation Should You Get in Your Employment Agreement?
It would help if you made sure that the contract states how much you get. And then, what part of that total number corresponds to the vacation, sick days, holidays, and CE (is the dentist reimbursed for CE expenses?)? Some places use what’s called a pure PTO system, meaning everything comes out of the same bucket. So, suppose you’ve gone from the office for whatever reason. In that case, it’s a holiday. You’re CE, you’re sick, and you’re on vacation. It doesn’t matter. Everything comes out of that bucket. But then others specify the most common way of doing it. They determine precisely how many days you get for each thing. Let’s break down those four elements.
Total Paid Time-off for Dentists and Dental Associates
Regarding vacation, most dental associates will get somewhere between 10 to 15 days of vacation. If you’re offered five days of vacation, that is not enough. Another consideration is whether a dentist should receive a moving allowance if they are moving into the city for the position.
So, somewhere between 10 to 15 days. Sick days can vary by state. Some states have an actual law that states that if you’re a full-time employee, you get this many sick days. There are other states where it’s ambiguous.
Usually, most places offer somewhere between 3 to 5 sick days, or they might lump it into the vacation. But that’s a reasonable amount as far as federal holidays go. In most places, 6 or 7 federal holidays per year. That’s easy to understand. And then CE, once again, somewhere between 3 to 5 days. A dental associate should aim for somewhere between 20 to 30 whole days of time off.
When you add up those four things, it should be somewhere between 20 to 30 days if you’re not within that range. I mean, if you’re beyond that range, excellent, good for you. If you’re not to the 20 days adding all that up, you’re not getting enough time off, or at least you’re not getting enough time off compared to your peers, so you need to ask for more.
Things to Consider About Production and Salaries
Now, a couple of considerations if you are on a pure production compensation agreement, meaning, maybe you get a daily rate with no paid time off. When talking about this, it usually pertains to people on salary if it’s a production/salary hybrid. But if you’re just paid a daily rate, they may still pay you for those days you’re off. But many employers will state you get paid if you work, and you don’t get paid if you don’t, but you can take as much time off as you want. Suppose you are on a pure net collections-based agreement. In that case, you will get a percentage of whatever the dental practice collects based upon your personally performed services.
In that scenario, obviously, the less you work, the less you will collect. And so, you need to kind of, I guess, determine how much time off you can take versus how much you’re going to make by taking that much time off and then decide how much is the right amount for you. If you’re on a base salary, let’s say you make 110,000 yearly. The more time off, the better because your compensation isn’t going to be affected by whether you’re there or not or your productivity. So, try to advocate for more if you’re on a pure base salary. In contrast, it might change the equation somehow if you’re on hybrid or pure productivity.
In summary, you should aim for 20 to 30 days of total time off. Anything above 30 would be rare, to be honest. But somewhere in that range would be considered fair, in my opinion.
What Expenses Should a Dental Practice Pay For a Dentist? | Dentistry Office Expense Costs for Reimbursed to the Dentist
Should an employer pay for business expenses for the dentist? This can vary greatly. It kind of depends on the makeup of the practice. Sometimes, if it’s a smaller dental practice, the employer will pay for fewer business expenses. A corporation does not always but sometimes will pay for more. It kind of just depends on what the makeup is. Sometimes, the business expenses are standardized. All dentists that are employed there get the same. Other times, this is something that can be negotiated.
What are the Main Business Expenses?
Let’s go over the list of the main business expenses the employer will pay. I would say the most common one is continuing education (CE).
Every dentist needs to continue their education to maintain their certification and license. An employer will typically give you an annual allowance. I would say industry standards are anywhere between 2,000 to 5,000. They say we’ll give you $2,000 to $5,000 a year. You can use this towards continuing education.
Sometimes, this will include conferences which would include travel expenses. Sometimes, it has to be approved directly by them, but normally, it’s just an allowance. They give you a specified amount of money annually. You can use that because you need it to continue your education to keep up with your licensing requirements. It’s also known and sometimes stated in dental contracts as CE or continuing education.
You might also get CE days paid time off to attend those conferences that that allowance is providing for. Sometimes though, dental contracts have unpaid time off. If you have unpaid time off, it’s not likely that this is something that would be provided to you. However, if you are granted PTO time, you will likely be granted specific days to attend those CEs. The most common one, continuing education, is because everybody has to do it. Otherwise, you will not be able to keep your license. So, it’s very important.
The second one I will discuss is your licensing fees with your state board. This is very common that it is provided for or reimbursed. These expenses would be in addition to paid time off. It’s typically structured in two different ways. They might give you a different allowance for licensing in dues, or they just say, go ahead and apply for your license, pay for it. We will reimburse you. It depends on the agreement. So, you have to read your dental contract to know which way it’s structured. But your licensing fees would likely be covered if you’re moving to a new state and need an initial license. If you need a renewal, that would likely be covered, but you want to ensure it in your agreement.
The next one is a DEA license. It depends if you are prescribing controlled substances within your practice, which dentists may or may not. You’ll need a DEA license. Those are expensive, and they just keep going up. That is another expense that you would want your employer to cover.
And you would also want them to cover the renewals. And then lastly, any sort of professional organization because, again, that’s important. You can get CE through that. It’s good for networking and keeping up your skills. That’s also something that would be covered.
Malpractice Insurance, Cell Phone Expenses, and Travel Expenses
Another one in dental contracts would be dental malpractice insurance. Either the dental practice will add you to their policy and pay your premiums, or they will reimburse you. And then the last two are kind of unique, but I do see them on some contracts. Cell phone expenses. They may reimburse you or provide you with a cell phone for communication and travel. If you’re going to multiple locations, they may reimburse you for mileage or even provide you with a vehicle, but that’s rare. It’s that they would just reimburse you for mileage and travel expenses.
So, those are the typical ones. I would say that dental agreements greatly vary because the dental practices and their makeups vary. You could see all of these on a dental contract; you could see none of them, which I would try if I were you to negotiate for some of them because these are things that can add up. You want to advocate for yourself to get these costs or reimbursements included in your employment agreements.
Should a Dentist be Reimbursed for Moving Expenses? | Dentists Moving Expenses
Should a dentist receive relocation expenses and reimbursement? The short answer is yes. Industry standards normally dictate that this is common in employment agreements for dentists. However, it does depend on where you’re moving from. Is this a short distance or are you moving out of state or across the country?
Normally, you must be moving a pretty far distance to the practice in order for them to offer this to you. They’re also structured in a couple of different ways. I would say the most common way it’s structured in a dental employment agreement is it’s normally listed as a relocation allowance within the offered professional benefits. It’s just a flat amount. I’ve seen it range anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 and what will happen is upon signing the agreement, normally, they will give you that allowance.
Tax Implications of Moving Reimbursement for Dentists
And it’s just given to you in that flat amount. Now, when that happens, it is usually taxed as income. So, you don’t receive the total 5,000 to 10,000. That’s something to consider upon signing. And then sometimes you must give receipts to the practice showing that you used it for relocation expenses. Other times, that requirement is absent from the agreement.
The second way it’s typically structured is that the practice will directly pay the companies for moving expenses. You will let the practice know what sort of moving company you will use. And then, they will reach out and pay them directly. There could be a cap on that amount. And again, it’s generally between 5,000 to 10,000 in dental contracts.
You want to look out for whenever you receive a relocation allowance or reimbursement. There’s usually a payback provision or time you must work for the dental practice to get that amount forgiven.
Usually, it’s anywhere from one to three years; three years is a little long. And typically try to advocate for our clients to have one to two years. You will work in the dental practice for one to two years. Then that amount they gave you at the beginning for your relocation expenses will be forgiven. You want to read your agreement very carefully. Sometimes, these provisions are stringent.
Suppose you terminate the contract for any reason within that specific period. In that case, you have to pay back the entire bonus or allowance. And the problem with this is when you receive the bonus, taxes will be taken out of it if it’s considered income. But you’re going to pay back the full amount. So again, you want to be careful. A better and very common way it’s structured is prorated for how long you’ve worked there.
Let’s say that the forgiveness period is two years, and you work for one year at the dental practice and decide to leave. Therefore, you’d only have to pay back 50% of those relocation allowances or reimbursements. So, always want to read your employment agreement first. See how those relocation expenses are structured. It is common to be offered one if you’re moving to the dental practice from a long distance. Time off is another consideration when determining whether a contract offers standard benefits for a dental professional.
Does a Dentist Have to Repay a Bonus if they Terminate the Contract?
Does a dentist have to repay bonuses if they leave early? It depends on your employment agreement, as each is unique. However, there’s always some forgiveness period when an employer offers a bonus to a dentist in an employment agreement, plus the professional benefits. And it’s generally between one to two years. If you terminate the employment agreement within that period, you would likely have to pay back any bonuses you receive. There are typically two types of bonuses that we’re talking about here. The first one is a relocation bonus or relocation allowance. It can be anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, depending on where you’re moving from.
Relocation Bonus as Part of Dentist Employee Contract
And this bonus is used for moving expenses just to get there and settle your household before you start with your dental practice. And then the second bonus typically offered in a dental employment agreement is a signing bonus, which can generally be anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000. You sign the contract and are sometimes given those funds upon signing. Other times, you’re given half at the time of signing and half when you commence your employment with the dental practice. Those are usually the two types of bonuses we’re talking about here when we mean paying them back. The paybacks are normally structured in one of two variations. The first one is simple if you terminate the contract within a specific period, you must pay back the total amount.
2 Ways Bonuses are Structured
Now, you should consider this when signing, especially if it’s a bonus that is an income, and you are taxed on that amount. So, you rarely receive the total amount listed because part of it the hospital has taken out for taxes. However, when most contracts say that you have to pay back the entire amount, they’re not accounting for the taxes already removed from that account. You could be paying back more than you received. So, that’s something you want to consider upon signing your employment agreement.
The second way it’s structured is prorated. It means for how long you’ve been there. They forgive that amount. Let me give you an example. If the forgiveness period for the bonus is two years and you terminate your contract or employment agreement after one year, and it’s prorated, then you only have to pay back 50% of that amount.
There is Almost Always Strings Attached, So Always Clarify Things With Your Employer
Bonuses are very attractive whenever you receive an offer, and it’s exciting. They’re a large amount of money. You’re getting them paid upon signing or upon starting employment. But you want to consider and read your employment agreement very carefully because you don’t have a crystal ball and don’t know what will happen in the future. So, if you get somewhere and feel like it’s not a good fit and want to leave for personal reasons or family reasons, you need to terminate your agreement. There could be severe financial repercussions to accepting those bonuses. So again, always read your employment agreement and ancillary benefits offered. If they offer you a bonus, double-check because there’s likely some forgiveness period or payback provision, and you want to make sure you fully understand that before you sign the document.
How Much Does Tail Insurance Cost for a Dentist? | How Much is Tail Malpractice Insurance?
How much does tail insurance cost for a dentist? First, let’s talk about when you would need tail insurance, and then we’ll talk about how much it costs. There are two standard medical malpractice policies for dentists, occurrence-based or claims made. An occurrence-based policy requires a policy in place when the incident occurs. Tail insurance is not necessary. Under a claims-made policy, a policy has to be in effect when the claim is made. You may terminate a contract and leave an employer, but there will still be a statute of limitations.
A period that somebody could sue you for dental malpractice, and in most states, it’s two years. There are exceptions, but I’ll just say it’s two years for these purposes. Tail insurance would be a policy that covers the gap between when you leave an employer and then the last day that somebody can sue you. Most places require tail policy to be at least two years at most. In the dental employment contract, it’s going to state who is responsible for tail insurance if you have a claims-made policy.
If it doesn’t say that, you need to figure it out and ensure that language is inserted before signing the agreement. The agreement will have a section that states that the employer will provide the underlying annual premium. It’s how much it costs to insure you on a yearly basis. And then usually, it will state what type of policy they utilize and, if it is a claims-made policy, who’s responsible for paying for tail insurance.
Dentist Malpractice Insurance Average Cost
Most of the time, dental practices will put the burden on paying the tail insurance on the dentist leaving the practice. The reason they would use one policy over another is that an occurrence-based policy is generally about a third more expensive than claims-made. And suppose the employer uses a claims-made policy, which is a third cheaper and puts the onus on the dentist to pay the tail insurance costs. In that case, they’re saving a decent amount throughout an employment relationship between them and a dentist.
So, how much does it cost if you are responsible for paying for tail insurance? Well, a good rule of thumb is it’s about twice what your annual premium is. As I said before, the annual premium is how much it costs to insure you yearly. And you just multiply that times two, and that will be how much you must pay for tail coverage. It’s a one-time payment, so you don’t have to pay tail insurance yearly. It’s a one-time payment, and you’re covered for however long a policy you decide to go with. I would suggest if they had, and will have, an unlimited tail policy, which will just cover you indefinitely. That’s the way to go.
States Statute of Limitations
As I said, there are some exceptions, and then there are some longer statute limitations based on your state. And so, it would be a bad idea to get a policy that didn’t cover the entire amount. Suppose you get sued, and there is no insurance to cover you. In that case, you may be personally reliable for those damages if it gets to that point, and then you’ll have to pay for your attorney and go through that.
And then, the settlement will come out of your funds. So, it just makes sense to pony up by the indefinite tail; that way, you’re covered. How much it costs kind of varies based upon specialty. It will be a little bit less if you’re just doing general dentistry. It would be more expensive if you’re an endodontist or doing some more surgical procedures. But I guess I would consider a reasonable amount for insurance is somewhere between 2,000 to 4,000 for an annual premium, which would not be uncommon for a general dentist.
And so, your tail coverage costs would be somewhere between 48,000 in that scenario. Not a prohibitive amount of money, but still an amount you’re most likely going to pay for and essentially a budget that you’re going to pay for that amount. And then, it has to be paid before the termination of the contract. So, before the agreement is terminated, you must purchase that policy. And then, the employer would require you to prove that you had purchased that policy. That’s how much tail insurance costs.
General Liability Insurance for a Dentist
One is occurrence-based coverage, and the other is claims-made. In an occurrence-based policy, tail insurance is not necessary. It just means a policy must be in effect when the dental malpractice occurs. The other coverage is called claims-made. In that scenario, tail insurance is necessary because it states that a policy must be in effect when the claim is made. If you leave an employer, someone could sue you one or two years later, and if you didn’t have a tail policy, you would not be covered even though it happened two and a half years ago.
Let’s kind of dive into the cost of these types of things. Suppose you have a claims-made policy, which the vast majority of dental associates will have after the contract ends, for whatever reason. In that case, it’s terminated, or it just ends, and it’s not renewed, or maybe someone is in breach of contract. Still, for whatever reason, once the contract terminates, you’ll have to get a policy that covers the gap between the last patient you see and the last date that you can be sued.
Which Malpractice Insurance are you Going to Purchase?
For most states, it’s two years. There are some exceptions for people who are no longer minors. And it’s usually from the date you either knew or should have known of the dental malpractice event. It’s certainly possible that someone may not even know that malpractice occurred for a year or two. And in that scenario, that’s how the dentist can be sued after the fact. So, you’d have to purchase a tail policy, also called gap insurance or extended reporting, but it’s mostly known as tail insurance in the industry. You’d have to purchase that before the end of your current dental contract, which would be for a set amount of time.
So, you can get one-year tail coverage, two-year, five-year, or unlimited. Obviously, the longer the tail, the more expensive it is. Still, most policies will cover somewhere between three to five years because people figure that’s far off enough to cover any claim that could be made. Now, as far as cost goes, the tail is generally about twice what your annual premium is. If your annual premium is, let’s just say, 3000 a year, then your tail cost would be around 6,000. The shorter you’re with the employer, maybe down to 1.5 times what your annual premium is. Whereas if you’ve been there a very long time and want an unlimited tail, it could go up to 3 times your annual premium. But a good rule of thumb is it’s about twice.
Consultation with Chelle Law
It’s a no-brainer that you should only enter a contract after it gets reviewed by a skilled dental contract lawyer. At Chelle Law, we have hands-on experience drafting and reviewing employment contracts in all medical specialties.
When dental contracts are reviewed by an experienced lawyer, you will find great financial benefits which end up outweighing the cost of the contract’s review. If you are in need of legal assistance with a dental contract review schedule a review with Chelle Law today!
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