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Practice Management

Are You a "Dr. Non"?

by Mark Opperman, CVPM

    This article is part of a real-life case involving questions of communication, discrimination, and compensation. For the other articles about this case, follow the links below.

    The Story So Far...

    A practice owner, Dr. Non, hired a new male associate, Dr. New, at a starting salary of $85,000. His existing female associate, Dr. Strong, who was making $65,000, found out Dr. New’s salary and confronted Dr. Non, asking for equal pay. Dr. Non refused, stating that her production did not warrant a larger salary and that he had issues with her performance. Dr. Strong filed a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and, when that was denied, a civil suit against the practice for discrimination.

    (For the full background of the case, read “Dr. Non v. Dr. Strong.”)

    Are You a "Dr. Non"?

    So, could this happen to you? The answer is, of course, yes. Such a situation can happen to anyone. However, if you see yourself in Dr. Non, chances are that your risk for a devastating conflict happening in your practice is a little higher.


    • It is important to communicate with your entire team, not just your associate doctors. Have an open-door policy, and truly allow those doors of communication to stay open. Being nonconfrontational does not excuse you from communicating with your team.
    • Be involved in performance reviews. If you have a practice manager, you can let him or her do reviews, but you still need to provideyour input.
    • Document, document, document! Write up your performance reviews. If there are performance problems, document those as well. Don’t let it be your word against someone else’s.
    • Make sure you have an employment contract for each associate and your practice manager, and keep all your contracts up-to-date.
    • I also think it is important to share some financial information with your team.  Associates should know their production and average client transactions, while technicians and receptionists should know the practice’s average client transaction, daily number of invoices, number of new clients, total income, and total expenses.  This concept is known as scoreboarding. How can you expect your team to help you be more productive and profitable if they don’t know what is going on?  Just think: how well would a sports team do if the players didn’t know the score until the game was over?  That is how your team feels!

    Lastly, I strongly suggest that you discuss your financial performance with your associate doctors and pay them using the ProSal method of compensation.

    Don’t be a Dr. Non! Learn from this case, and, hopefully, this situation will never happen to you.

    Read about the other aspects of this case!


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