Partner (Private Practice)

Please note: This list is for your informational use and not intended to replace the advice of professional advisors and specialists, including, but not limited to, attorneys and certified public accountants.

General Requirements

  • DDS or DMD degree
  • Completion of a postdoctorate program in orthodontics
  • State dental license
  • Résumé/CV, cover letter, references or letters of recommendation
  • Practice location
  • Practice valuation
  • Business/transition plan
  • Funding
  • Partnership or shareholder/stockholder agreement
  • Business accounts
  • Business permit
  • Employer identification number (EIN)
  • National provider identification (NPI)
  • Local occupancy, zoning, and building permits
  • Equipment and supplies
  • Hardware and software systems
  • Office policies and procedures
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Personnel
  • Insurance – malpractice, life, health, long-term disability, property, commercial general liability, practice interruption, office overhead expense, worker’s compensation


  • May immediately enter partnership arrangement or an associate agreement with phased buy-in option (the associate purchases a partial interest of less than 100 percent)
  • May include a partnership arrangement with an orthodontist, general dentist, or other dental specialist

Financial Risk

  • Medium to high financial risk to invest and manage a business
  • Medium to high overhead and operating costs
  • Requires shared investment in a new or existing practice, and the distribution of expenses and profits
  • Financing may be necessary
  • Can be difficult to obtain outside financing for partnership arrangements
  • Seller financing may be available for buy-in arrangements
  • Buy-in can be complicated due to tax implications, income distribution and financial structuring
  • Opportunity to collaborate with a business partner(s) who has a vested interest in the success of the practice

Income and Other Compensation

  • Variable income based on revenue, costs, and expenses
  • Income may be divided equally among owners or include a base income plus a percentage of profits
  • Income potential is greater compared to associate, independent contractor, academic, and military opportunities
  • Responsible for benefits such as vacation and sick leave, health insurance, life insurance, disability, retirement plan, professional dues, continuing education reimbursement, liability and malpractice insurance, etc.
  • Responsible for payroll, income, sales, and property taxes

Practice Operations

  • Requires managerial and administrative responsibilities
  • May have equal or partial autonomy and control over practice decisions
  • Opportunity to share or divide responsibility of business operations and devote more time to patient care
  • Requires awareness and evaluation of market conditions and practice performance
  • May need to establish patient pool and referral base, develop practice management systems, and hire and train new employees
  • May share the same patient base with another orthodontist and/or develop an in-house referral base with a general dentist or other dental specialist
  • Must establish trust, mutual respect, and a willingness to compromise
  • Differences in opinion may lead to disagreements

Learning Development Opportunities

  • Opportunity to obtain and utilize clinical, technical and practice management skills
  • Responsible for seeking out learning and professional growth opportunities
  • Opportunity to work closely with and learn from a colleague and/or experienced doctor

Legal Considerations

  • Must understand and comply with federal, state, and local business laws, regulations, and requirements related to office design, employment, office safety, patient treatment, collections, malpractice, marketing, antitrust, taxation, and more
  • Responsible for selecting a business structure and understanding how it affects day-to-day operations, taxes, and personal liability
  • May share responsibility for liability issues such as malpractice claims, customer injuries, and employee partner activities

Contractual Considerations

  • Will enter into several contracts including business loans, consulting agreements, purchase/lease agreements for real estate and equipment, dental provider agreements, employment and compensation agreements, and more
  • Will be responsible for complying with all contractual obligations
  • Often includes partnership or shareholder/stockholder agreement outlining basic terms, capital contributions, distribution of profits, expenses, decisions, responsibilities, and patients, as well as how to address conflict and other situations
  • A letter of intent can be prepared prior to the partnership or shareholder/stockholder agreement to mitigate disagreements between partners
  • Partnership process may require additional documents to address governance and employment terms (for phased buy-in)

Work Life Considerations

  • Can be difficult to enter certain communities due to market conditions and/or availability of partnership opportunities
  • Will have flexibility to set work hours
  • Can be difficult to take extended time off
  • Increased work/life flexibility over practice start-up or purchase due to shared coverage of practice

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