Joining a Practice

Consider these next steps when beginning this important phase of your career

Becoming an associate or a partner in an established practice is one of the most common ways to begin a career in optometry. While joining a practice might seem less complicated than starting a new practice, this option involves a variety of important considerations. Recent graduates and young doctors of optometry need to learn a lot about joining a practice in order to evaluate its ability to support an associate.

The AOA supports those joining an optometric practice and assists with matters like negotiating basics for employment contracts, tackling legal issues, reviewing methods of income division and making a partnership work.

Tips for joining a practice for recent optometry school graduates and young doctors of optometry

1. Get legal advice when drafting your employment contract. Once you have determined that the practice is right for you, a basic issue you’ll need to deal with is your employment contract. It would be unwise to enter into any arrangement without first working out a written contract. The importance of competent legal advice cannot be overemphasized. Accountants, financial advisers, bankers and estate planners also can help you. Under no circumstances should you attempt to write your own legal document.

2. Find assistance with negotiating tactics. Negotiation will play a central role in your ability to form a successful relationship with a practicing doctor of optometry. Preliminary steps include looking at practices long before your graduation. It will help you to better understand yourself, others and the wide range of opportunities and differences within the profession.

3. Get help determining your negotiation goals. To discuss a contract seriously, you need to establish a minimum income level and a strong concept of the practice arrangement you would like to have. Remember, however, that negotiation also involves compromise. Here is a great piece on how to negotiate a contract.

4. Learn why it’s important to take the initiative. It’s to your advantage to take the initiative in presenting the first draft of the contract. By being proactive, you may be able to include provisions favorable to you that might not otherwise have been considered.

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