Job Market For Dentists (2022 United States)
Things continue to look up for dentists.
Recent rankings named the profession the second-best career behind software development. It’s also among the highest paid jobs in the US, attracting numerous applicants every year.
But what’s the actual state of the country’s dental industry? You can only answer this by looking at the recent statistics from the most credible sources.
We’ll take you through the latest dentist labor statistics so that you can make an informed career decision. What’s more, our dedicated Dental Contract Lawyer can help you review your dentistry employment contract. So keep reading!
What Are the Latest Dentist Labor Statistics?
While some effects of COVID-19 still linger within the dental industry, the dentistry world has largely recovered from the pandemic. The following dentist labor statistics describe the current situation and trends in this highly sought-after sector:
The US Dental Industry Is Worth $50.42 Billion, And The Value Is Still Rising
The United States dental market has grown significantly, and this expansion is projected to register a magnificent revenue CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) in the next few years.
In 2021, the dental market was estimated to be worth $47.16 billion. This value increased to $50.42 billion in 2022, and experts project that it will continue growing at a CAGR of 7.2%. By 2027, the market size is expected to be approximately $72.09 billion. This is a great prediction for the US dentist labor market compared to the global statistics.
The 2021 global dental industry was estimated to be $36.32 billion, and the market is foreshadowed to hit $63.93 billion over the next decade. During this forecast period, experts anticipate a 7.4% CAGR.
Rising awareness of the benefits of dental practitioners is a leading contributor to this growth in the dentistry market. This vast market comprises consumables and equipment for treating, preventing, and diagnosing oral health problems.
There’s A Huge Demand for Dentists
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the dentistry market would grow significantly as baby boomers age and require complex care like implants. New dentists should look forward to great job prospects if the following data is anything to go by:
- In 2018, there were 155,000 jobs for dentists in the US. But currently (2022), the number stands at 201,927.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a total growth of 7% in the next decade. This is above the average career growth rate of 5%.
- According to a Health Resources and Services Administration study, there was a shortage of 10,802 dentists in 2018.
- The Health Policy Institute found that there are approximately 55.4 full-time dental professionals for every 100,000 US citizens. This translates to about one dentist for every 1,818 residents, which sounds like a pleasant patient base.
California Has the Highest Dentists Employment Level
Among all the states, California stands out in terms of employment level, registering 14,770 dentists. This represents an employment rate of 0.89 per every 1,000 jobs and a 1.16 location quotient. The second state on this list is Texas, with 9,540 employed dentists that represent 0.78 professionals per 1,000 jobs.
Florida is number three, home to 8,080 dental specialists and an employment rate of 0.94 for every one thousand jobs.
Closing the list of the top five states with the most remarkable employment level is New York and Virginia, with 6,370 and 4,880 dentists, respectively.
Restorative Dentistry Market Worth $22.2 Billion by 2027
The future is bright if you specialize in restorative dentistry, as the industry is anticipated to grow from the current $16.5 billion to $22.2 billion in 2027. According to a recent report by MarketsandMarkets™, this growth will unfold at a 6.1% CAGR.
This promising growth can be attributed to:
- An increasing number of tooth repair procedures
- A growing dental tourism market
- The inception of advanced solutions
- Unhealthy food habits
- Lifestyle changes
The report also notes that prosthetic materials account for the largest share of the global market. Dental implantology leads in terms of application, and dental clinics and hospitals account for the greatest percentage of the market by end-user.
Dental Practitioners Are Consolidating
Solo dental practitioners are decreasing by the day. According to the American Dental Association data, two in three dental practices were solo in 1999. More than two decades later, only one in two practitioners is solo.
Apart from the growing popularity of group practices, dentists are increasingly participating in DMSOs (Dental Management Service Organizations) and DSOs (Dental Service Organizations). DMSOs and DSOs contract with dental practitioners to provide non-clinical and management support like accounting, human resources, and supplier negotiations.
About 7.4% of dentists had DSO affiliations in 2017, and the number grew by 40% in 2020, making it 10.4% of practicing dentists.
So despite the digitization of dental services, you shouldn’t worry about gaining new skills beyond your specialization.
There are More Female Dentists Than Male
In the last decade (2010 to 2020), female dentists increased from 24% to 35%. A recent ADA report notes that this increase is expected to last, as evident in the increasing number of female graduates leaving dental schools.
The study also notes that dentists’ average number of weekly hours increased slightly in the previous decade. However, the average female dentist in the US works slightly fewer hours every week than her male counterparts.
Dentists’ Racial and Ethnic Diversity Doesn’t Mirror the General Population
The Above report also views the industry from the ethnicity and race perspective, and the findings are eye-popping.
Asian and White dentists are relatively more predominant in the market than their respective US population percentages. The representation of Black and Hispanic dentists, and those who identify themselves as another ethnicity or race, is relatively less than their fraction of the population.
From the above trends and statistics, there’s a lot to look forward to for those specializing in dentistry. With all these insights, you can make informed career decisions, including choosing the best location to work with or the most lucrative specialization.
Wherever you choose to work, it’s always in your best interests to involve a dental contract lawyer to defend and protect your professional career tirelessly. The experienced team at Chelle Law can do just that, including helping you draft, review, or negotiate an employment contract. Reach out today to discuss your employment progression.
Additional Information for Dentists
How can an associate dentist negotiate a better salary? First, as far as compensation models go for most associate dentists, it’s usually one of three things, either just a straight based salary, I’d say probably more frequently a daily rate, and then last would be a net collections model. Let’s kind of go through the three of those, then we’ll talk about tips on how to negotiate. First, a straight-based salary. The best way to find out whether a salary is kind of, I guess, an average amount in an area is to talk to colleagues. If an associate is looking in a brand-new city, maybe try to look for job listings online and see what the salary range is that they’re listing.
Salaries will vary wildly from location to location. If you’re willing to live in an area that might not be as maybe universally desirable in a rural location or maybe somewhere that has tough weather, you’ll probably make more. Whereas if you’re maybe in a more desirable location where there’s a ton of competition that usually tends to depress salaries, at least of the associate dentist. Just having an idea of what the ongoing rate is in that specific location certainly is helpful. One of the problems is I’d say most people here are just coming out of training or moving to a new location, you’re not bringing any patients with you, so you’re just simply not as valuable. If you were moving within a city and there were no non-compete or non-solicit problems and could bring a huge chunk of patients to a practice, well, then you’re obviously much more valuable.
But I think in most situations, that’s probably not the case. In that situation, usually, there’d be ownership interest transfer. The next one is the daily rate. I mean, really, if you just do the math on, alright, well, if this is the salary, how does that breakdown into a daily rate? Then it’s an easy computation. One thing you need to think about is if there is fractional day, meaning, maybe you’re only there for half a day then is the rate just half? I’ve found some contracts where they penalize the dentist for not being there for the full day, and many times it’s not the dentist’s fault, or maybe the volume is not there or something else.
So, make certain that the daily rate not only is a fair market but also has either hourly or half-day, something that just states how much the associate dentist gets paid if they are not there for the full day. Lastly, net collections and it’s simple. It’s whatever services the dentist provides that the practice collects on. And then the dentist will get a percentage of that. Let’s just take, for instance, a dental associate who brings into the practice $50,000 and they’re only paid on net collections. The normal percentage will be somewhere between 30 to 40% of that amount. Now, they can also do it where they have a base salary on top of net collections. And in that case, usually, once the dentist brings in an amount that covers their salary, then they’ll get a percentage above that.
And that is lower, normally, somewhere between 15 to 25%. The percentages certainly can vary wildly as well. And that’s certainly something that the dental associate can negotiate. Negotiation is always about leverage. And as I said before if you’re just coming out of training, or you are in a city you’ve never lived before and have no established patient base, then you may not have that much leverage. Whereas if you have more experience, you’re in a specialty that’s difficult to recruit to, you have this established patient base, you certainly have much more leverage in negotiating higher daily rate, base salary, net collection, percentage, whatever. I think the most valuable thing you can do is just talk to the people that you know, and the people you train with or some mentors, and just get a feel for how these people are being compensated and how much they’re being compensated.
I find when we’re negotiating, just taking this, the compensation is the only factor that’s stupid. You need to consider, are they getting a signing bonus, or relocation assistance? Is their license and some DEA registration being paid for? What are the restrictive covenants? The non-compete, the non-solicit. Who’s paying for malpractice insurance? There are a bunch of factors that go into whether a contract is worth signing or not, and kind of a holistic, total approach needs to be taken and not just “I’m going to go wherever I’m getting paid more.” I think that’s shortsighted. Hopefully, that was helpful and gave you some tips on how to negotiate an associate dental salary.
How can you get out of a contract as a dental associate? Let’s say you’ve signed an agreement and for whatever reason, you decide, this is not working out, I want to move on. How do you get out of the contract? I guess there are two ways of thinking about this, one is to get out of a contract. It’s easy. Every contract is going to have language about how to terminate the agreement. And in my mind, terminating the agreement is the same as getting out of a contract. I’m going to walk through the kind of the normal way to terminate an agreement. And then I’ll also talk about what happens if you signed an agreement and you don’t want to go through with it.
I think that might be what people are thinking about when they say, can I get out of a contract even if I haven’t started yet, but I’ve signed. What are the issues that can come about from that? Let’s just give a brief description of how to terminate a contract and then I’ll get into the second part last. In any employment agreement, it’s going to state the term of the agreement, meaning, how long it is, and then the termination part. And there are generally four ways to terminate a contract. One, if it’s just a fixed term. Let’s just say it’s a two-year contract and there’s no language that states that automatically renews, at the end of the two years, if neither party has renegotiated anything, then it just ends, and the contract terminates. That’s it.
You could also mutually agree to terminate the agreement. Maybe it’s just not working out, it’s not a good personality fit. Both parties can say, you know what, let’s just move on. The third way would be with cause termination. In every contract, it’s going to state how the employer can get rid of the employee and then what are the reasons. Most of them don’t, but some of them will have a brief section about the things an employee, the dental associate, can terminate the employer for. But in any contract, it’s going to state if either party thinks the other is in breach of contract, let’s just say the dental associate has productivity compensation. They’ve earned the bonuses, but they’re not being paid the bonuses either on time or at all, they will send written notice to the employer stating, you’re in breach of contract. And then usually, there’s a 15 to 30-day window. It’s called a cure period for the breaching party to fix the breach, to cure it. And then if it is fixed, then the party can no longer terminate the contract for cause. That goes both ways.
If maybe the dental associate isn’t taking calls like they said they would, or something like that, the employer can state, you’re in breach of contract, you need to fix this. The third way is termination for cause. The last and the most common way is without cause termination. Every contract will have section that states the contract can be terminated at any time, for any reason, with a certain amount of notice to the other party. Usually, it’s somewhere between 60 to 90 days for most dental associates. And so, let’s just say you found a new job that’s better, you want to move on. You just give them written notice and then work out those, let’s say it’s a 60-day notice, work out those 60 days, the contract ends, and you can move on. Now, a couple of things you need to think about in that scenario.
The restrictive covenants are going to continue after the contract ends, so the non-compete, the non-solicit. You also need to think about who’s going to pay for tail insurance if you have a claims-made policy, are you going to have to repay any bonuses if you left early? And then also, if you’re on hybrid productivity model, are you going to get paid all the bonuses that you’ve earned? Those are things to think about after the contract terminates. Now, the other way would be if you signed a contract and then decided not to go through with it. This one is more of a gray area. Some contracts will explicitly state, if you sign an agreement and then decide not to go through with it, here are the penalties. So, maybe they would have a set fee.
Like, you owe us $20,000 if you sign and don’t start, or you owe the recruitment costs and credentialing fees and any licensure stuff that we’ve already paid out for you. Most of them honestly don’t have that. If you are in a scenario where you’ve signed but don’t want to go forward, I find it’s best just to be completely honest with the employer and just say, look, these are the reasons why I signed the agreement, but things have changed. It could have been maybe a family illness or decided to pursue additional training or whatever. I mean, maybe you got a better job offer, although telling the employer, they’re not going to be too keen on hearing something like that. But if you can just give them a reasonable, I don’t know if “excuse” is the right word, but just kind of, these are the reasons why I don’t want to go through with the contract, most employers are okay with that without the dental associate having to pay anything. Now, the longer amount of notice you give the better. I mean, if you call the employer a day before you’re supposed to start and say, I’m not going to start, unless you have extraordinary excuse, they’re not going to be okay with that. And they’ll likely, or probably come after you for some amount of money.
So, you want to give as much time as possible, as much notice as possible if you’re not going to start, and then a reasonable explanation why you’re not going to start. I would never suggest entering a contract or starting a job that you just absolutely don’t want. It’s a position that you don’t want to be in. Maybe you just had a much better compensation offer from someone else, or maybe there’s a better opportunity, whatever it is, it’s better to deal with consequences before you start a job than to start and then leave a month later. You don’t want to burn bridges if possible, so providing a reasonable explanation and proper notice is the best way of handling that.
But you are potentially open to liability if you’ve signed the agreement. Maybe they’ve paid out some signing bonus or relocation assistance, or as I said before, credentialing fees, licensure, stuff like that. Those are things that they’ve paid for that the dental associate will likely have to pay back at some point. So, that’s kind of how you get out of a dental associate employment contract.
Dentist Contract Checklist Reviews and Legal Information
Each dentist’s contract is unique. However, nearly every dental contract for dentistry professionals should contain several essential terms regardless of its state.
If the dental employment agreement does not spell out these essential terms, disputes can arise based on disagreements between the employer and employee as to the details of the specific term.
For instance, if the DDS or DMD expects to work at the practice Monday through Thursday and the employer expects the provider to work Monday through Friday. But, the specific workdays are absent from the Dentistry Agreement. Who prevails? Spelling out the details of your job is crucial to avoid conflicts during the term of your employment. We can analyze dentist contract clauses for each new associate.
Essential Terms for Legal Review
Below is a checklist of essential terms that contracts should contain (and a brief explanation of each term):
- Services Offered: What are your patient care duties for the dental practice? Are you given time for administrative tasks?
- Patient Care Schedule: What days and hours per week are you expected to provide patient care and have contact with patients?
- Locations: Which dental practice or facilities will you be based at to provide care at (outpatient clinic, surgical sites, in-patient services, etc.)?
- Outside Activities: Are you permitted to pursue moonlighting or locum tenens opportunities? Do you need permission from the employer before you accept those positions?
- Call Schedule: How often are you on call with the dental practice (after hours office call)?
Dentistry Contract Benefits
Below is a list of Dental Contract Benefits that you should keep an eye on:
- Electronic Medical Records (EMR): What EMR system do they use? Will you receive training before providing care?
- Base Compensation: What is the annual base salary? What is the pay period frequency? Does the base compensation increase over the term of the Dental Agreement?
- Productivity Compensation: If there is productivity compensation for the associate, how is it calculated (wRVU, net collections, patient encounters, etc.)?
- Benefits Summary: Are standard benefits offered: health, vision, dental, life, disability, retirement, etc.?
- Paid Time Off: How much time off do they offer? What is the split between vacation, sick days, CME attendance, and holidays? Are you free to take time off whenever you want?
- Continuing Medical Education (CME): What is the annual allowance for CME expenses, and how much time off are they offering?
- Dues and Fees: Which business expenses are covered (licensing, DEA registration, privileging)?
- Relocation Assistance: Is relocation assistance offered? What are the repayment obligations if the Dental Agreement terminates before the expiration of the initial term?
- Signing Bonus: Is a signing bonus offered? When is it paid?
- Professional Dental Malpractice Insurance: What professional liability insurance are they offering: claims made, occurrence, self-insurance?
Professional Liability in Dental Associate Agreements
- Tail Insurance: If tail insurance is necessary for the dental associate, who pays for it when the Dental Agreement terminates?
- Term: What is the length of the initial term? Does the Dental Agreement automatically renew after the initial term?
- For Cause Termination: What are the grounds for immediate termination for cause?
- Without Cause Termination: How much notice is required for either party to terminate the Dental Agreement without cause?
- Post-Termination Payment Obligations: Will you receive production bonuses after the Dental Agreement terminates?
Restrictive Covenants in Contracts
- Non-Compete: How long does the non-compete last and what is the prohibited geographic scope?
- Non-Solicitation: How long does it last and does it cover employees, patients, and business associates?
- Notice: How is notice given? Contact via email, US mail, etc.?
- Assignment: Can the employer assign the Dental Agreement?
- Venue: Where will litigation and any law conflicts be heard?
- Alternative Dispute Resolution: If there is a conflict, will mediation or arbitration process be utilized? Who decides what attorney oversees the process? Will it be a health care attorney?
How to Get out of a Dental Agreement with a Non Compete
A dental non-compete clause in agreements was initially considered a restraint of trade and thus was invalid on the grounds of public policy at common law; however, many restraints of trade incident to employment contracts were upheld based on the rule of reason. Thus, restrictive covenants between dentists not to compete after the termination of employment are generally enforceable as long as it is reasonable.
However, a few states prohibit healthcare provider non-compete clauses. Please check your state laws for dental non-compete agreements to see the specific rules for your state.
The general test for reasonableness of non-competition agreements holds that on termination of employment, consider a covenant that restrains an employee from competing with his former employer as reasonable if:
- The restraint is not more than required for protecting the employer.
- It does not inflict any untold of hardships to the employer, and
- The restraint is not injurious to the public.
Unreasonable Non Compete Practices in a Dental Employment Contract
For instance, a non-competition clause in Ohio was unreasonable when the state noted that the provider’s sub-specialty was uncommon. That it would be harsh if the employer enforced the restrictive covenant. The hospital where they precluded him from practicing was only one of the few institutions in the area where he could practice his specialty.
Thus, in Ohio, covenants restraining providers from competing with their employer on contract termination are considered unreasonable if:
- It inflicts untold hardship on the veterinarian.
- Is injurious to the public.
- If the demand for the dentist’s medical expertise is vital for the community people, and
- If the dentist’s services are essential for the public’s health, care, and treatment.
However, non-competition clauses for dentists, in general, are enforceable as long as they protect some of the employer’s legitimate interests.
Dental Agreements Pitfalls: Disorganized Practice, Malpractice Insurance, Lack of Associate Resources
Dentists face many risks when they take the review of contracts into their own hands.
Dental contract terms are highly negotiable and significantly impact professional life, practice, lifestyle, family, and the future.
There are many important dental contract terms and clauses which can provide and present new complex and diverse issues for any DDS or DMD, including:
- Unfavorable call schedules
- Small Production Bonuses
- Lack of Benefits
- Not enough paid-time-off
- Not enough vacation time
- Unfair Non-Compete
- Inadequate professional liability coverage
What is Dental Associate Employment Agreement?
A dental associate employment agreement is a contract between the dentist’s employer (practice owner) and an employee (dental associate) that sets out the terms and conditions of employment.
The agreement specifies the services the employee will provide, the duration of employment, and other relevant details that should guide the dental associate and the practice owner in working together.
It is vital to have a dental contract lawyer review your employment agreement before signing it. This way, you can be sure that the contract is as fair and reasonable to you as it is to your employer.
How to Negotiate a Dental Associate Contract | Dentist Employment and Dental Negotiations
How should you negotiate an associate contract? I’ll give some tips and tricks to get a better contract. There’s a difference in negotiating contracts between somebody just out of training and somebody already established in a community.
You’ll have more leverage if a corporate practice or another group brings out your practice or wants you to join them. And you have an established patient base. Suppose you’re coming out of training. What do you need to do to put yourself in the best position to negotiate a contract?
For most dentists, the most important things are salary. Is it a base salary? A daily rate? Is it a net collection? How do you terminate the contract? Can you get out of it with a certain amount of notice or benefits? Are they paying for your license, DEA registration, credentialing, or continuing education, and are there signing bonuses and relocation assistance? Will you be paying them back if you leave within a certain time?
Probably the two highest priorities are: who’s paying malpractice insurance? And who must pay for tail insurance after the contract terminates if it’s a claims-made policy?
Also, the non-compete is some people’s absolute, most important thing in the contract. If they’re tied to a community, kids in school, or family, they absolutely can’t leave. Then it would help if you had a reasonable non-compete that would not make your move entirely out of the area.
Top 7 Dentist Labor Statistics (2022 United States)
Top 7 Dentist Labor Statistics (2022 United States) including employment by state, racial, ethnic and gender diversity, dentistry markets, and more!
Dentist Additional Information
Dental associate contract red flags. There are dozens of red flags in a contract. However, a handful is necessary to take a solid look at, and we’ll go over those.
The first thing would be no without cause termination. In any employment contract, there will be a section called term, which means how long the contract is. Then termination, how parties can terminate the contract.
Parties can terminate contracts in several ways. The term could end, and if it’s not renewed, parties can terminate it by mutual agreement. They could also terminate it for cause. If one of the parties breaches the contract but doesn’t fix the breach, the other party generally has the option to terminate the agreement immediately.
And then the last and most important way is without-cause termination. It simply means that either party can terminate the agreement at any time with a certain amount of notice to the other. Typically, it takes somewhere between 30 to 90 days. I find this especially important for dental associates. Without the ability to terminate the contract at any time, let’s say the dental associate has a two-year contract, and they cannot terminate without cause. Unless the other party breaches the contract, you’re essentially stuck there for two years.
There are plenty of scenarios where if a dentist associate is on net collections, volume, and compensation, the owner will generally, I’d say, overestimate what the associate will make. And so, they can get a job if they don’t get paid a daily rate or a salary. It’s more of eating what you kill and getting a percentage of whatever is collected, and the volume isn’t there, and you’re not making nearly as much as you expected. You still would have to play out the rest of those two years. And that is a situation no one wants to be in. So, the first thing is to ensure there’s without-cause termination at any time.
Sometimes, the employer will try to say you can’t give notice in the first year, in the first six months. No, anytime you start, you provide notice, you do your, whatever the notice period is, move on. It’s vital.
If you are a dentist and you earn on either net collections, encounters, or some volume metric, and you are not 100% certain that the volume is there for you, you need to be very careful about taking that job.
A daily rate or a base salary, especially in the first year or two, insulates the dental associate from getting screwed entirely by an employer who is unwilling to make an income guarantee. They bring in a dentist, but in that circumstance, only pay them based on volume metric.
Like in the example I gave, if a dentist starts, their compensation is based purely on production, and the production is entirely out of their hands. They’re not doing the marketing. It is on the employer to drive the business, and it’s a problem.
So, it’s crucial to have a guaranteed salary or daily rate for anyone new, maybe just out of training or relatively new. And then once you’re there, and perhaps you’ve been there a year or two, and you see that the volume is there, maybe potentially you can make more under the collections model. Well then, talk to the owner about switching.
But at the very beginning, I find most places that try to lure dental associates in with big numbers. It rarely shakes out that way.
Another big red flag is the non-compete. It is one thing that varies from state to state. Each state has its view on what’s a reasonable non-compete. Non-competes are enforceable. In almost every state, California, New Mexico, and Massachusetts are three of the few states that are completely unenforceable.
But for most states, it must be a reasonable length, usually about 12 months. Sometimes they’ll try to do two years, then some reasonable geographic restrictions, usually somewhere between 5 to 15 miles.
If you have a five-year, 50-mile non-compete, that’s crazy! You don’t want to sign something like that.
You want it to be no more than a year and no more than, I would prefer, 10 miles from your primary practice location. Many of these big corporate dental offices have multiple locations in the area. They will state it’s 10 miles or whatever the geographic restriction is from every place they own, even if the dental associate didn’t provide care or work in that location.
No, you can’t agree with that. It needs to state that it will only apply to the locations where the dentist provided care, and even then, try to limit it to no more than two locations.
In big cities, corporate dental conglomerates continue to gobble up some dentist-owned practices. And so, if someone is 10 locations in a city and it’s 10 miles from the ten sites, it’ll knock you out of your city. So, what’s in the non-compete is undoubtedly important.
Then last, I’ll touch on the benefits briefly. The employer should pay for the license, DEA registration, and continuing education if a dental associate is an employee. If you’re moving from out of state, reasonable moving expenses and reimbursement are normal things an employer should pay for you. So, think about that as well.
Getting out of a Dental Associate Contract
How to get out of a dental associate contract? When you are a dental associate, you will sign one of two contracts: an employment agreement or an independent contractor agreement.
Ultimately, it’s the same way of terminating the agreement. Still, I’ll talk specifically about the employment agreements because those are, I’d say, the standard type of agreement for a dental associate to sign. When the contract is signed, there will be language in the contract that states the term of it — how long it lasts.
How to Terminate a Dentist Contract
Then also, termination, means how either party can terminate the agreement. As far as the term is concerned, usually, it will be one of two things.
There is a fixed term with automatic renewals. It could be like a one-year term, which automatically renews for one year unless terminated. Or I’d say more often recently, there have been evergreen contracts where there’s no term listed at all. It just states the contract continues until someone terminates it. One is not better than the other. It’s ultimately the same result.
After you find out what the term is, go to the section about termination. One way to terminate a contract is by mutual agreement. If both parties feel like it’s just not working out, they don’t need or require a certain amount of notice. They say, alright, this doesn’t work out. We’re both just going to wash our hands of this and move on.
Two, if there was a fixed term, let’s say it was one year, and there was no language about automatic renewal. If the one-year term expires, neither party decides to renew, the contract terminates, and that’s it.
For Cause Termination
For-cause is another type of termination. If one party is in breach of contract, there’ll be language stating that the party who thinks the other is in violation has to give them written formal notice that says, you’re in breach of contract due to this.
Typically, there would be a language called a cure period. The cure essentially gives the party breaching the contract a period to fix whatever the problems are. Typically, it’s somewhere between 15 to 30 days.
In this scenario, let’s say the dental office is not paying the bonus they said it would. Or it’s not timely, or whatever the issue is. The dental associate would send them a written letter saying, “We agreed that you would pay me this bonus. But you haven’t paid this. You are in breach of contract, you have 15 days to fix the breach, or I can terminate the contract immediately.”
That’s one way to get out of the contract.
The last way and most frequent way is through what’s called without-cause termination. Every contract that a dental associate sign needs to have without cause termination. That means either party can terminate the agreement at any time with a certain amount of notice to the other.
Why is this important? I find this, especially in the dental industry. The volume/if compensation tied to collections can be puffed up before the dentist starts. And so, they might get into a situation where they’re being paid purely on production. The volume simply isn’t there. They’re making nothing. They’re stuck in a contract if there’s no without-cause termination language.
So, you want somewhere between 30 to 90 days without cause termination notice. How that would work is just like if someone is in breach, the dentist will then state in the written letters that “I’m terminating the agreement. Per without cause termination, my last day at work will be X date, appreciate the opportunity.” And that’s it, that’s all you must do. That’s the most standard way of getting out of a dental associate contract.
The same goes for them as well. If they don’t think it’s working out with the dentist, they can give them notice. Then either make the dentist work out whatever the notice period is. Or sometimes tell them, “Look, go home. We don’t need you anymore.”
However, they still must pay you for that notice period. So, if you had a 30-day notice, the dental office states we’re terminating the agreement and don’t want you to come to work tomorrow. They still would have to pay the dentist for those 30 days.
Now, the tricky part comes in. If you’re not on base salary, you’re not getting a daily rate, or you’re only getting paid on production. Obviously, if you’re not productive, you will not get paid.
Importance of Notice Period
Then there needs to be a discussion before signing the contract and getting the language there, so the dentist isn’t essentially working for free. Or they still get paid for that notice period. There is a notice period, at least in the healthcare field, generally for continuity of care. They don’t want a dentist or any healthcare provider just not to show up one day and say, I’m leaving.
And then there’s a bunch of patients on schedules, people who need work done, and there’s no one to provide that. They can put the patients in a tough spot if there’s just no notice and their provider leaves. It is not the dental associate’s problem.
However, if they give enough notice, these are the patients of the practice, not the dental associate. And so, when the dental associate terminates the agreement or if the employer terminates them, once they leave, they have no obligations as far as the patients go or worrying about referring them out or transitioning somebody else. That’s the employer’s problem.
So, to get out of a contract, the term can end, you can mutually agree to terminate it, you can terminate it for cause if the other party doesn’t fix a breach, or you can give without cause termination in a letter, finish out your time and move on.
Consultation with Chelle Law Dental Contract Lawyers
When an experienced lawyer reviews dental contracts, you will find great financial benefits that outweigh the cost of the contract’s review. If you require legal assistance with a dental contract review, schedule a review with Chelle Law today!