Nothing beats having a well-oiled machine in place. As any dental practice manager knows, the success of the dental practice relies heavily on the support of top-notch dental assistants who know their craft.

Hiring and retaining competent and experienced dental assistants are priorities. Nevertheless, turnover seems inevitable and will put a strain on the entire practice until someone new comes on board.

Turnover is costly and is typically caused by a variety of reasons, including low job satisfaction and lack of engagement. Dental practices can avoid the revolving door of dental assistants with a few pragmatic steps that will allow them to hire the best and keep them around.

Provide education and training

When you hire quality people, chances are they will always look for opportunities for professional development. So give it to them. Continuing education is instrumental to a practice’s profitability and the quality of care it delivers to patients. Yet, a recent study shows that not enough dental practices are financially supportive of their staff’s education endeavors.

Dental practices can offer assistants opportunities to train and learn in various forums, such as continuing education, product seminars, controlled training sessions from verified sources such as CDC and OSHA and online courses.

Build a culture of recognition

Foster a culture that rewards and recognizes achievement. Dental professionals want to hear directly from their bosses when they’re doing a good job and feel recognized for their hard work. Informally, dental managers can simply take a moment to pause and say thank you to their staff. Or, they can establish monthly programs that highlight top employees. It’s best to seek guidance from HR on formal initiatives that reward employees for their performance.

Offer competitive compensation

It goes without saying that employee loyalty and salary are closely linked. A recent survey of dental professionals shows that salary is the most important factor when considering a job, and it wasn’t even close.

When dental managers launch a job search, they can attract top recruits by matching or exceeding the competitor’s starting pay. Resources with compensation comparisons by location can help dental managers pinpoint appropriate salaries for new hires.

Seek winning attitudes

Dental assistants will spend a lot of face time with patients and are also a primary liaison to dental caregivers. Their soft skills are essential in delivering high-quality and compassionate care to all patients.

While their clinical skills are vital, it is also important for dental assistants to have the ability to connect with patients. They should also be willing team players, show a desire to learn and demonstrate characteristics of someone who’s always willing to take ownership and go above and beyond when needed. During the interview process, managers should focus on behavioral-type questions to see if the applicant’s traits and approach align with the practice’s values.

Offer advancement

Employees are generally happier when they find purpose in the job that leverages their strengths. At the same time, satisfied employees will also seek out opportunities to grow and build on their skillset. Managers can attract top talent by promising opportunities for regular evaluation and feedback, which leads to the expansion of duties.

Based on dental practice protocols and administrative rules, managers can identify work functions and then delegate them accordingly to staff based on their performance, training and experience.

This approach will open the doors to dental assistants, allowing them to follow pathways to new career possibilities.

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