Question: “Throughout my career my practice has always been open Monday-Thursday. We are now scheduling on Friday to try to keep up. It is more than I want to work and exhausting for all of us. How do I determine if I am ready for an associate?”
There is no “one size fits all” answer for this line of questioning. Obviously practice styles and philosophies will differ and it is possible this challenge could be remedied through modification in a practice protocol without the addition of an associate. To this client, I would recommend options in this arena before entering into the complex and many times expensive process of an associate doctor. If, in exhausting all possible solutions, the challenge of “keeping up” remained, we could then proceed into associate discussions. It has been my experience that when a client is having difficulty keeping up and brings on an associate, typically they find it does not take very long to get caught back up. This leaves one of the doctors (usually the associate) with little or nothing to do and eventually they move on. In that same vein, even if you would be fortunate enough to be able to keep the associate busy one day/week, how long are they going to stick around? Most associate doctors have financial obligations not satisfied in a one-day or even part-time capacity. Associate doctor arrangements can work, but the practice framework needs to be in place and that framework is not universal from practice to practice.