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Washington State Dental Association

Employment Agreements: The Devil’s in the Details

Congratulations! You finished dental school and received an offer to join a practice. That’s terrific news. Or maybe you’re in the position of offering employment to another dentist. Either way, before you put your John Hancock on any contract you’ll want to do your best to understand the provisions and key legal terms. While dental school taught you the art and science of patient care, maybe you didn’t graduate with a good understanding of the ramifications of much of the language used in many dentist employment agreements. Fortunately the ADA and the WSDA are here to help. 

A new publication “Dentist Employment Agreements: A Guide to Key Legal Provisions” (Note: you will need to log onto the ADA site to access this paper) explains many of the terms and provisions common to dental employment agreements. The material is presented in a manner to help you consider and review a contract of employment. It’s not a substitute for a lawyer, but can help you know what questions to ask and discussions to have with your legal advisor. Some of the topics covered include: 

•   The differences between employees and independent contractors 
•   Explanations of salary, commission, bonuses and benefits 
•   What a non-compete clause is and how it differs from non-solicitation 
•   How mediation and/or arbitration can resolve disputes 
•   Points to consider when hiring a lawyer to review the employment agreement 

Additionally, Alan Wicks, General Counsel for the WSDA provides free assistance with legal questions general to the practice of dentistry and questions regarding rules and regulations pertaining to the practice of dentistry. For questions regarding legal issues, call Wicks directly at (206) 973-5238 or email him at
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