Dental Team Staffing

Guidelines for Practice Success | Managing The Dental Team

The ultimate goal in staffing the practice is to maximize the patient experience and efficiency by coordinating the members of the dental team. This can be a challenging task for new dentists, established practitioners and those seeking to transition out of active practice.

It’s a good idea to approach recruiting from a methodical standpoint, just like you would initiate a clinical procedure. Begin by recognizing when it’s time to expand staff by adding new positions. The next steps are to identify how and where to find the best candidates, know how to effectively screen and interview applicants, and then how and when to conduct background and/or reference checks.

Hiring someone is more involved than meeting someone and liking him/her. The goal is for every new hire to “fit” the practice, both in terms of their ability to perform specific tasks and their ability to know when to work independently versus when to be a team player. While you may be anxious to fill a position quickly so the practice continues to run smoothly and efficiently, it’s a good idea to allow enough time to make the right decision. After all, this person could be part of your team for many years to come and you’ll be depending upon him/her to help you deliver quality patient care and maintain the practice according to your vision and mission.

Dentists who are new to practice rarely have staff in all positions; they start out with very limited staff and then add other positions as the practice grows over time. The clinical positions most frequently found in new dental practices include the dentist, a hygienist and an assistant. If the practice can afford it, it’s also helpful to have non-clinical staff to manage scheduling, billing and financial coordination.

As the practice grows and you think about adding more positions, you may want to consider conducting an informal job analysis. This can help you determine how many people, and in what roles, your practice needs. The analysis should be methodical and objective and based on what the practice really needs and can support rather than on what you want or what you think you should have. A Sample Job Analysis Worksheet is available as a resource to assist you in this process.

You should also be aware of what personnel documents should be kept on file and which of those should be confidential. A Checklist: Confidentiality and Retention Schedule for Personnel Records is included as a resource to assist you.

Finally, as the practice expands, it’s also a good rule of thumb to have more delineation between the front and the back office staff. This can help you track and manage resources (staff time and financials) so you’re aware of what’s working well and what should be adjusted.


Sample Job Analysis Worksheet [PDF]

Checklist: Confidentiality and Retention Schedule for Personnel Records [PDF]