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Roadmap to a Desirable Associateship. Rob Pate, O.D. EyeCare Associates, Inc. Hoover March 20, 2008. Getting Started. Hopefully you’ve already started!! Have a plan (or 2 or 3) Put your plan in writing Take this course seriously…if you do, the majority of your planning will be completed

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Roadmap to a desirable associateship
Roadmap to a Desirable Associateship

Rob Pate, O.D.

EyeCare Associates, Inc. Hoover

March 20, 2008

Getting started
Getting Started

  • Hopefully you’ve already started!!

    • Have a plan (or 2 or 3)

    • Put your plan in writing

    • Take this course seriously…if you do, the majority of your planning will be completed

    • Have a “mentor” review your plan and make suggestions

    • Take advantage of networking opportunities (make your colleagues aware of who you are and what your plans are)


  • Can the practice sustain another practitioner?

  • How much do you ask for? / What’s fair?

  • Cost of living?

  • Desirability of the area?

  • Spousal job approval?

  • Fringe benefits? (Professional Association Dues, License Fees, Paid Vacation, CE allowance, etc.)

Finding the right match1
Finding The Right Match

  • Three of the most common reasons given for dissolving an associateship are:

    • Compensation

    • The Associate’s Production

    • Personality Conflicts

Finding the right match2
Finding the Right Match

  • Finding the right match is best left up to divine intervention, however do your homework and get to know your potential employer.

Helpful hints in today s market
Helpful Hints in Today’s Market

  • Visit numerous practices in your area/location of interest

  • Be prepared/willing to work in multiple locations

  • Don’t be surprised if you’re only offered a few days/week initially

  • Be prepared to display your goals/plans for growing the practice and producing revenue

  • Don’t burn bridges—leave all options on the table!

Contractual obligations associateship goals
Contractual Obligations: Associateship Goals

  • 1. Salary—based on cost of living estimates and regional associate averages, I am seeking a starting salary consisting of 40% of professional fees generated with a $300 per day minimum.

  • 2. Covenant not to compete—I do not wish to move my family around, therefore I plan to practice in this community for a great length of time. If this associateship arrangement fails to evolve into a partnership, I do not want a restrictive covenant in my contract limiting my practice opportunities in this community, even if I decide to open my own practice. I agree not to practice outside of Eye Care Associates as long as I am an associate.

  • 3. Benefits—of greatest importance are malpractice insurance, bonus income, paid vacation, and vacation length—in that order. Of lesser importance are cost of membership in the AOA, C-E allowance, optometry license fee, and an equipment allowance for new purchases or repairs. I need no health insurance coverage; my wife has excellent benefits through her work.

  • 4. Hours—No Sundays. I do not mind working full Saturdays once or twice a month provided a full day off during the week. I will obviously be available for after hour emergencies.

Contractual obligations associateship goals1
Contractual Obligations: Associateship Goals

  • 5. Duties—I want to practice full scope optometry, putting to use all facets of my optometric education including treatment of eye diseases, contact lenses, and post-operative care.

  • 6. Location—I would prefer to be located at the main office as many days as possible.

  • 7. Term—a one calendar year contract should suffice to determine if this arrangement has long term potential. I do not wish to be locked into a salary with no prospect of annual adjustments by signing a multi-year contract.

  • 8. Termination—I should be able to terminate the agreement on 30 days’ notice.

  • 9. Disability—the definition of disability (before my job terminates) should be at least 90 days of consecutive inability to work, not 90 days total in a year.

  • 10. To become a partner in Hoover Eye Care Associates in the long term.

How to grow hoover eca
How to Grow Hoover ECA

  • Member Birmingham-Jefferson Co. Auburn Alumni Club

  • Member Hoover Rotary

  • Member Hoover Chamber of Commerce

  • Write monthly column in Hoover Gazette on eye related topics/conditions

  • Expand sports vision by…

    • Speaking with local high school coaches; i.e. “team eye doctor”—Hoover High, Spain Park High (I have an “in” with both schools)

    • screenings for youth leagues

    • demos on newest technologies, i.e. Nike Maxsight, Rec Specs, Polycarbonate facemask shields, etc.

  • My wife teaches at nearby Oak Mountain Intermediate School—another referral source from a tremendously large pool of potential patients—and an excellent place for presentations, health fairs, etc.

How to grow hoover eca1
How to Grow Hoover ECA

  • Communicate with as many internal medicine/GP doctors about my ability to monitor their diabetic patients’ eye sight and willingness to update with a letter after these visits

  • Contact all local pediatricians to make them aware of my arrival and services

  • Coach/Be active in my children’s athletic teams to meet parents and draw new patients

  • Church family, friends all live within easy driving distance

  • Mother works for the City of Hoover in the Human Resources Department—yet another in with community leaders and employees

  • Mother-in-law very active in Hoover Chamber of Commerce and is Human Resource Director for Hoover based Adventure Travel

My road to associateship
My Road to Associateship

  • Auburn Job Offer Two Years Before Graduation

  • Externship with Dr. Zachary Steele in Fall

  • Auburn doc would not return calls or emails for 3 months

  • Dr. Steele put me in contact with Dr. Lynn Hammonds who was looking for a new associate

  • Met Dr. Carl Spear at ALOA Fall Conference

My road to associateship1
My Road to Associateship

  • Visited Hoover ECA to meet Dr. Amos and staff (wrote letter of thanks and mailed the next day!!)

Letter of thanks to practitioner
Letter of Thanks to Practitioner

  • Dear Doctors Amos and Hammonds,

  • I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to visit your beautiful practice this morning. Thank you both for taking the time to visit with me on such short notice. I was absolutely amazed by the size of your practice, the fluidity of patient flow, and the numerous technological capabilities you are able to utilize. What a remarkable setting to practice optometry!

  • I hope to stay in contact with you to discuss what the future holds for your practice and how I may fit into those plans. It would be an honor and a blessing to begin my optometric career in a practice as established and well-run as yours. I would relish that opportunity.

  • Thank you again for allowing me to shadow and tour your practice today. Please do not hesitate to contact me whenever it is convenient for you.

  • Sincerely,

  • Rob Pate

My road to associateship2
My Road to Associateship

  • Offered job 3 days/week plus two ½ Saturdays per month with ECA Hoover

  • Offered 1 day/week Chelsea Eye Care

  • Visited Pensacola to tour The Andrews Institute

  • Offered job 5 days/week at Andrews Institute

My road to associateship3
My Road to Associateship

  • To help fill my schedule 5 days/week in Birmingham, Dr. Hammonds arranged a meeting with another ECA doctor in Moody

  • Offered 1 day/week ECA Moody

My road to associateship4
My Road to Associateship

  • Additional Opportunities

    • Take over Solo Practice from retiring doc in Alexander City, AL

    • Join a large 4 office/5 doctor practice in Montgomery, AL

    • Ultimately, a piecemeal Birmingham schedule versus Pensacola was the decision

My road to associateship5
My Road to Associateship

  • Salary Comparison

  • Both paid daily per diem

    • Birmingham=$82,900 (year)

    • Pensacola=$104,000 (year)

My road to associateship6
My Road to Associateship

  • Bonus Potential

    • Hoover ECAto pay a percentage bonus on all money deposited for new patients I personally recruit into practice

    • Moody ECA decides no bonus structure

    • Chelsea Eye Care increases daily per diem in exchange for no bonus structure

    • 3 different locations=3 totally different agreed upon terms of payment

    • Pensacola offered bonus possibility in future?

My road to associateship7
My Road to Associateship

  • Cost of Living

    • Pensacola

      • 4 bedroom, 2 bath garden home=$400,000

    • Birmingham

      • 4 bedroom 4 bath home with basement=$289,900

My road to associateship8
My Road to Associateship

  • Desirability of Area

    • Pensacola

      • Hurricanes had ravaged the area the past several years; many roads, shops, businesses never recovered

      • My wife would have to find a new school to teach at

      • No family in area

    • Birmingham

      • Hometown

      • Wife established, tenured teacher

      • Family (both sides) within 30 minutes

My road to associateship9
My Road to Associateship

  • State Boards

    • Florida: Roughly $3000 with three different tests requiring 3 different trips to the state (two to Tallahassee for Pharmaceutical/Law exams, one to Fort Lauderdale for practical)

    • Alabama: $500 written test on one Saturday in at UABSO

My road to associateship10
My Road to Associateship

  • Birmingham wins out in the end

    • Work Schedule

      • ECA Hoover: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and every other Saturday (1/2 day)

      • Chelsea Eye Care: Thursday

      • Moody ECA: Tuesday


  • Working towards starting full-time at ECA Hoover in summer

  • Five year equity earning track buying into practice through sweat equity


  • What’s fair?

    • What’s fair is what the market will bear.

    • Keep in mind, most practices have existed long before you were considered for associateship and will continue on with or without you!!


  • I’m paid every 2 weeks by ECA (Hoover plus Moody)

  • I’m paid a monthly bonus by Hoover ECA

  • I’m paid once per month by Chelsea Eye Care

  • My guaranteed salary for 1st year out of school was $82,900 (paid by 3 different offices)


Get started good luck
Get Started& Good luck