Dental and Medical Counsel Blog

8 Tips for Assembling a Winning Team for Your New Dental Practice

January 17, 2018

The success of your new dental practice hinges in great part upon your ability to hire a competent team of dental office professionals. By assembling a team of talented, professional staff members, your patients will enjoy a more positive experience at your office and be more likely to serve as ambassadors for your practice. Below are eight steps to help you assemble an outstanding team for your new dental practice

1) Allow yourself plenty of time to put together a winning team

Making haphazard hiring decisions is a recipe for disaster in the dental and medical fields. When an assistant, receptionist, or another employee announces that he or she is quitting, it can be natural to panic and make a hiring decision as quickly as possible. However, you should avoid a knee-jerk reaction and take the time to make an informed hiring choice.

2) Determine how many team members you require

In general, the patient experience is enhanced when there is sufficient staff to handle patient needs promptly while ensuring that front and back office responsibilities are met. While the exact number of team members you need will depend upon the number of chairs and dentists you have in your practice, you should consider the following guidelines and suggestions:

  • Determine how many dentists and chairs you will have before hiring additional team members
  • Decide whether you wish to use in-house employees or outsource jobs such as billing and marketing
  • If you plan to see more than 22 patients per day, consider hiring two front office team members
"There are 480 minutes in an eight-hour workday. If your practice is seeing 15 to 22 patients per day, one person should be able to effectively handle the front desk duties. If the front desk business coordinator is spending more than 240 minutes (or half the day) handling patients, the practice should consider hiring an additional staff member." - Sally McKenzie, CMC

3) Outline the team member qualities that will help your practice thrive

Preparing a list of core competencies that you expect from your team members is essential to developing a cohesive team of dental professionals. Regardless of whether you are hiring an office manager, treatment coordinator, marketing coordinator, billing clerk, or dental assistant, you should strive to hire team members that exhibit the following qualities:

  • Competency: Your team should be comprised of members who excel in their respective fields.
  • Dependability: Team members should be on time for work and maintain excellent attendance.
  • Flexibility: Your employees should be able to adapt and learn new responsibilities quickly.
  • Detail-oriented: No team member should allow key details to get lost in the shuffle.
  • Superb communication skills: Team members should speak clearly and professionally with others.

4) Prepare clear job descriptions

One of the best ways to improve your hiring and retention is to create job descriptions that are attractive, accurate, and detailed. Sharing information about the work culture at your dental practice is also recommended, especially if you operate outside of standard business hours or if you utilize non-traditional treatments in your practice.

5) Go beyond standard job screening procedures

Working at a dental office is different than most types of employment. Because employees have access to confidential patient histories, drugs, and financial information you may want to run background checks. It’s important to keep the following tips in mind when running a background check to be sure you are compliant:

  • Obtain the applicant’s written consent to run a background check
  • Remove the criminal history question from your application in accordance with Ban the Box regulations, which is applicable in 150 cities and counties across the country.
  • Don’t run a background check until after you have made the offer
  • Let the employee know their offer is contingent on passing their background check
  • Treat everyone equally and don’t run background checks based on a person's race, national origin, color, sex, religion, disability, genetic information (including family medical history), or age (40 or older)
  • Before you decide to not hire an applicant based on their background check, provide the applicant with a copy of the background check report you received
  • Ensure its job related and allow them a chance to explain any negative information
  • Provide a letter outlining that they were disqualified for their criminal history and they will have 5 days to dispute this information or give mitigating circumstances

For information on working interviews, read California Employment Law and Working Interviews.

6) Do not try to cut corners when hiring front office staff

Receptionists and front office team members are the very first people a new patient will see when they enter your facility. In many ways, they are the face of your practice and are highly influential in a patient's level of satisfaction with your dental practice. Here are some tips for adjusting your hiring practices to ensure you attract top-quality front office staff:

  • Look for candidates who are pleasant, polite, prompt, and smile frequently in their interviews
  • Explain during the interview process that you expect a commitment to continued improvement 
  • Assess candidate phone skills by inviting them to answer some phone calls during the interview
  • Avoid candidates who communicate with a monotone voice or who chew gum during an interview

7) Consider using a temp agency if you are in a pinch

Seeking a dental team member from a temp agency is usually a better idea than hiring a marginally qualified full-time employee out of desperation. You can often find experienced workers who arrive armed with the skills you require for your open position(s). You save money on hiring and training costs and you can still continue to search for a permanent employee if you wish. However, if you decide to use a temp agency, you should make sure you cover the following:

  • Make sure you ask the agency who is responsible for liabilities such as workers' compensation
  • Ask whether the agency is endorsed by your local dental society
  • Ensure that the temp you hire has the proper license and skills required for the position
  • Confirm that the agency is responsible for payroll taxes and W-2 distribution at the end of the year

8) Ensure that team members receive sufficient cross-training

It is not uncommon for employees at growing dental practices to wear many different hats. For instance, your office manager might sometimes have to help answer the telephone while your marketing coordinator may have to pitch in and provide a new patient with paperwork. You can make sure that your team members are prepared to handle periodic shifts in job responsibilities by providing on-the-job cross-training to all employees. 

What is the surest way to ensure you make the best hiring decisions?

The best step you can take to ensure that you make wise hiring decisions is to seek the expertise of a dental attorney or industry expert. An expert on medical and dental transitions can help you assess your dental practice and help you develop sound hiring strategies that will help your dental practice thrive.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is it important to take your time when hiring for your dental practice?
A: Rushing hiring decisions can lead to poor choices. It's crucial to take the time to make informed decisions that align with your practice's needs.

Q: How can you determine the number of team members required for your practice?
A: Consider factors such as the number of dentists and chairs in your practice, whether to use in-house or outsourced staff, and patient load to determine staffing needs.

Q: What qualities should you look for in potential team members?
A: Look for qualities like competency, dependability, flexibility, attention to detail, and strong communication skills to ensure a cohesive and effective team.

Q: Why are clear job descriptions important in the hiring process?
A: Clear job descriptions attract suitable candidates and provide insight into your practice's culture and expectations, leading to better hiring and retention outcomes.

Q: What steps should you follow when conducting background checks on potential hires?
A: Obtain written consent, comply with Ban the Box regulations, conduct checks post-offer, treat all applicants equally, provide a chance to explain negative findings, and follow legal guidelines.

Q: Why is it crucial not to compromise on hiring front office staff?
A: Front office staff represent the face of your practice and significantly impact patient satisfaction. Prioritize hiring candidates with excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

Q: When is using a temp agency advisable for hiring?
A: Temp agencies can be useful for quickly filling positions with experienced workers, especially during staffing emergencies or when searching for permanent employees.

Q: How can cross-training benefit your dental practice?
A: Cross-training ensures employees can handle varied responsibilities, contributing to operational flexibility and efficiency.

Q: What's the best way to ensure wise hiring decisions for your dental practice?
A: Seeking guidance from a dental attorney or industry expert can help assess your practice's needs and develop effective hiring strategies for long-term success.


About the Author

At Dental & Medical Counsel, we've been instrumental in realizing the practice goals of countless dentists. Whether you're looking to purchase, launch, or sell a dental practice, our expertise is your guide. Beyond the initial stages, we're committed to ensuring your dental practice remains legally compliant.

We provide comprehensive support, including employment law protections, dental contract reviews, and assistance with dental employment agreements. Additionally, we specialize in incorporating dental practices and securing trademarks. And for long-term planning, our services extend to helping dentists with succession and estate planning. Trust us to be your partner in every step of your dental practice journey.

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About Ali Oromchian, Esq.

Your Dental Lawyer

Ali Oromchian, JD, LL.M. is the founding attorney of the Dental & Medical Counsel, PC law firm and is renowned for his expertise in legal matters

Ali Oromchian, JD, LL.M., is a leading legal authority in dental law and the founding attorney of Dental & Medical Counsel, PC, with over two decades of experience. His deep connection to dentistry comes from his wife's nearly two-decade-long career as a pediatric dentist. 

This personal insight fuels his dedication to empowering dentists to navigate their legal challenges and achieve their practice goals. In doing so, Ali has helped thousands of doctors open their practices while maintaining legal compliance. 

Ali is frequently quoted and contributes articles to dental publications, including the California Dental Society, Progressive Dentist, Progressive Orthodontists, Dentistry Today, Dentaltown, and The New Dentist magazines, further showcasing his commitment to the dental community.


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