Finding a new associate position can be a daunting process for both new and experienced optometrists. While making a good impression on an interview is important, it is equally important to learn as much as possible about the practice. Here is a compilation of questions from job seekers who I have worked with over the years. I hope that this list will make the decision process less intimidating.
- Employee or Independent Contractor?
- Employee at will?
- Is the doctor open to restrictive covenant in case of future ownership?
- Is the doctor open to a transition period, if needed? (After purchase)
Type of Practice
- What type of practice is it (full scope, pediatric, etc.)?
- Age of the practice?
- When/what do you refer out?
- How many treatment lanes?
- How many opticians?
- How many technicians?
- How much is the practice overhead?
- How long has each employee been there?
- What does the practice do to market itself?
- How many FT and PT staff?
- What is the patient pool like?
- Have the number of active patient records been reviewed?
- Is the practice growing or declining in number of patients seen, new patients attracted, and young patients?
- Average number of cancellations per week?
- Average number of patients seen by associate per day?
- How far ahead is the doctor book filled?
- How far ahead is the associate book filled?
- Discounts/Bartering/payment plans?
- PPO type of insurance? Insurances: accept all kinds or just selected ones?
- How much is the discounted price of the PPO compared to the fee schedule?
- Medicare or Medicaid acceptance?
- What percent is FFS, cash and discounted PPO?
- When was the last fee increase?
- Are the fees low, high or average for the immediate area?
- Do you offer patients credit?
- Days, hours, on call, etc.
- How many office hours and days per week is the office open?
- Job description (separate document) or general description
- Is the doctor responsible for pre-testing?
- What were the most of the cases being done by the associate?
- Supplies, equipment, support, etc.?
- Is the practice EMR compliant? If so, what system is being used?
- What is the square footage of the office? Can it be expanded?
- Average age of equipment?
- Do you have a confirmation system for appointments?
- How do you deal with NO Show?
Term of contract
- How long?
- What is the required notice period should either party wish to terminate the relationship?
- Is there a guaranteed salary, draw, daily rate or hourly rate?
- Is commission determined from collections or production?
- If collections, what is the collections rate in the practice?
- What percentage of production/collections is used to calculate income?
- Is there a chance to increase compensation in the future?
- Taxes withheld?
- How will the associate be paid? (Weekly/bi-weekly/monthly)
- How much on average was the last associate making?
- What was the average associate production per day?
- Can I get a fee schedule of the practice?
- Medical Insurance: health and dental?
- Malpractice insurance?
- Disabilities insurance?
- Required CE courses? How much and for how many hours a year? Are they paid for/reimbursed? Is there a stipend?
- Sick days # allow per yr.
- Personal days/vacations # per yr. allow
- What benefits are given to the staff?
- Define, list, when paid, etc.
- Will the practice support the acquisition loan (in case of future ownership), pay the overhead expenses and afford a reasonable income?
Other Questions and Notes
- What is your practice Philosophy and Goals? For the Practice and with new patients?
- Have you had associate before? How many? How long did they stay? What was the reason for the associate resignation?
- How do you advertise?
- Who determines how long I have to spend with new patients/initial exam and record?
- Is there a particular doctor in the area who is your main competitor?
- Who sees the patient first (technician or optometrist)?
- Why was the partnership offer turned down by an associate (if applicable)?
- Will I be able to visit the office during regular working hours?
- What will be the time frame for an associate position before we can talk about partnership/buy-in/buy-out?
- Is there an option for future ownership? Are you considering a move out of state?