Part 2 of 2: Negotiating Dental Practice Contracts & Agreements

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, continued...

Although it may not be found in any mainstream business management textbook, we often counsel clients to check their “gut feeling” on an issue. If it does not “feel” right, then they should seek greater understanding and obtain additional information until it does. And if they still feel uncertain about it, they should either ask for revisions to the agreement or no longer pursue the transaction.

For example, associateship contracts may seem a bit confusing to a first time doctor looking for employment. Some may assume that since others dentists before them have entered into similar arrangements, it must be acceptable for them to do the same; however, as time goes on incongruences may arise in the expectations of each party. Contention will result, and if not addressed and resolved, even the “best” of contracts may not be able to hold the professional relationship intact and the parties will part ways.   

A contract is only as good as the person(s) entering into it. In other words, contracts do not perform, people do.


There is always an element of trust when entering into a contractual arrangement. Each party trusts that the other party will uphold their side of the agreement. When that trust is damaged, it usually takes a lot more than just a contract to restore it. The key is to get to know people and trust them to be who they are. Instead, we all have a tendency to trust people to be who we want them to be, and when they are not, we question their trustworthiness. Trust is developed based on the integrity exhibited by an individual.

Sadly, most of us have had or will have experiences in which we enter into some form of contractual agreement with the best of intentions only to end up frustrated and dismayed by the outcome due either to the performance of the other party, or our own. If you doubt your trust in yourself or the other party, seek first to build that trust.

Ask questions. Seek to understand and seek to be understood. It may be wise to also seek professional guidance and counsel to assist you in communicating your position, understanding the other party’s position and building a mutual framework of trust before entering into any agreement. The axiom “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is as true today as it was when Benjamin Franklin wrote it in the 1700s.