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Cultivating an ownership mentality in associate dentists

June 5, 2024
It can be challenging to find an associate dentist who treats the practice as if it were their own. Instilling this ownership mentality in an associate requires intentional efforts. Try these strategies.

As a dentist who owns multiple practices, one of the greatest challenges can be finding an associate dentist who treats the practice as if it were their own. The dream of every practice owner is to have a committed and passionate doctor who shares their vision for the clinic’s success. However, instilling this ownership mentality in an associate requires more than just hiring the right person; it demands intentional efforts and effective strategies.


Communication, especially when it comes to expectations, is paramount. From the outset, clearly outline responsibilities, goals, and the vision you have for the practice. Encourage open communication and ensure they understand their role in achieving the practice’s objectives and contributing towards its overall success.


Empower your associates by giving them autonomy in their work. Allow them to make decisions regarding patient care, treatment plans, and operational processes within the parameters of your practice’s protocols.

Continuing education

Continuing education is also a valuable piece of the puzzle. Investing in professional development by providing opportunities for continuing education, training, and mentorship will encourage your associates to pursue areas of dentistry that they are passionate about and support their career advancement within the practice, and beyond.

Work culture

Cultivate a supportive and inclusive work culture where every team member feels valued and respected. Foster camaraderie among staff, promote teamwork, and celebrate achievements together.


Implement a performance-based incentive system that rewards your associate for achieving key performance indicators and contributing to the practice’s growth. Recognize their efforts and celebrate milestones to reinforce their sense of ownership and motivation.


Hold your associates accountable for their actions and decisions. En-courage them to take ownership of their work, patient outcomes, and the overall success of the practice.

Regularly review performance and provide constructive feedback to foster continuous improvement. Mentorship is always one of the most fulfilling parts of my day-to-day life in dentistry, both in the practice and in the community.

Lead by example

Lastly, as captain of the ship, remember to always lead by example and demonstrate the qualities of a committed and dedicated professional. Show passion for dentistry, excellence in patient care, and a strong work ethic. Your actions will serve as a model for your associate to emulate and inspire them to take ownership of their role in the practice.

Regularly acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of your associate—and all team members—to the success of the practice. Express gratitude for hard work, dedication, and commitment to providing quality patient care. A culture of appreciation reinforces everyone’s sense of belonging and encourages all staff to continue treating the practice as if it were their own. 

Editor's note: This article appeared in the June 2024 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

About the Author

Amrita R. Patel, DDS, FICD, FPFA

Amrita R. Patel, DDS, FICD, FPFA, graduated from NYU College of Dentistry in 2011 and completed her residency at the Nassau University Medical Center. She is a general dentist in private practice with her father, endodontist Dr. Rohit Z. Patel, in Westchester County, New York. She chaired the New York State Dental Association New Dentist Committee and served as the new dentist representative on the ADA’s Council on Dental Benefit Plans for 2020-21. She is also among the recipients of the 2021 ADA 10 Under 10 Awards.

Updated June 27, 2022

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