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Best Practices To Manage Dental Staff And keep Patients Coming Back

It’s more than finding the right candidate: keeping a new hire is just as important as those on your patient list! It’s a familiar story by now: You are running a busy dental practice in your town. Your patients have seemed to be generally happy with the care and services they’ve received, up until the last year or so.Also, it seems to be tricky for you to retain skilled staff over the long term. The candidates you have hired have been great team members, but they seem to move on to other endeavors after a year or so.

Practitioners know the challenge in trying to find qualified, competent dental staff. When there’s a frequent staff turnover, the challenge is compounded. It’s time to consider: if you want to have a stable, prosperous practice, it’s important to work with your employees.There are numerous ways to switch up your dental game to ensure you have happy, satisfied staff that will result in your practice being truly successful.

It goes beyond hiring…

All the steps you need to take to find a capable, qualified staff member are all equally important: the advertising, interviewing process, the background and licensing checks, and the final decision all weigh in to bringing an ace team member on site. You’ve found the perfect person for the job — and now it’s your job to keep them there. Here are some tips for doing just that:


The on boarding process is critical to show your employee not only how you run your business but why your practice is the best place for them to work. Essentially, it’s your time to shine as brightly as those pearly-white smiles that you’re known for creating. Michelle R. Corbo, a practice analyst with the CDA suggests this process should be clearly communicated and carefully planned: “Don’t just have them come in and go, ‘Okay, this is it. Here’s sterilization, and go.’ Set them up. Give them an opportunity to learn.”

Corbo follows this up with recommending that you allow them time to get to know your staff and systems. Also, it’s important that you allow some flexibility in your schedule to check in with them to address and questions or concerns, and to ensure they’re comfortable and doing well.

She gently reminds practitioners that joining a successful team can be stressful for the new hire — it’s a challenge jumping onto a brand new team and feeling the pressure to succeed right away. So, to alleviate that pressure, make the first day fun. If possible, offer a continental breakfast or catered lunch for the entire team on your new employee’s first day. She also reminds us that new platforms such as Cloud Dentistry, help dental practices find the right dental staff to hire by providing "on-demand" staffing services.

Doing so gives you all a chance to get to know one another a little better, and creates a welcoming workplace atmosphere that all your teammates enjoy. Moving forward, a gesture of this nature on each employees’ birthday, for example, or on Meeting Day at the end of every month (if revenue allows) is a great way to make each member feel worthy. When your employees feel valued, they will be more likely to stick around.


I think it’s probably unnecessary to say it out loud, but effective communication is the cornerstone to every successful — well, anything: relationship, project or business, and dentistry is no different. This is where team meetings are crucial to ensure everyone is on the same page (remember that lunch I recommended above?). Working catered lunches are a great way to gather everyone and open up dialogue around office practices.

Encourage people to share their observations and voice their concerns. As a team, address the issues that are raised and come up with group troubleshooting strategies to create positive change. If there is something that requires your direct attention, give it the recognition it deserves separately, and in a timely manner.


Which brings us to beyond working as a team.All teams need a leader to provide direction and keep them on track, to keep morale buoyant and to ensure everyone meets a common end goal: to keep the patient happy. Foremost dental consultant Linda Miles says outright: “If you have great leadership in the practice, you’re going to have highly accountable people.”Miles offers some other words of wisdom when it comes advising on how to run a successful practice.

“Communication is at the base of everything when it comes to leadership in the dental practice. I also firmly believe that if you put the patient first, everything else falls into place,” Miles says.

Putting the patient first

Most people who have worked in retail or customer service have heard the saying: “the customer is always right.” While being “right” may seem a strange idea when it comes to industry-specific businesses like dentistry, it’s important to consider that keeping the patient happy is major priority.Happiness and satisfaction comes down to every detail in the patient-team interaction: from the welcome they receive, to chair side manner and treatment, to billing and follow-up, the patient experience is what is going to make or break you.

“Patients come first in everything we say or do,” Linda Miles asserts. She emphasizes that it’s vital to ask this question: “‘Is this in the patient’s best interest?’ Patients sign your paycheck, so the better the patients are treated, the more they enjoy coming back and referring others to you.” Logically, as your patient list remains stable — or better yet, grows — the higher the likelihood they are happy with their care. And if they’re happy, typically the practice’s staff feels competent, secure and valued.And contributing to an overall sense of value and well being is the foundation of a vibrant, thriving practice.

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