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How to find dental office contractors

You don’t always have to employ a permanent member of staff for every role. If your office needs a professional with specific skills for a short–term period, it could be rational to hire a dental office contractor instead.

Dental office contractors are not part of your permanent personnel.  They aren’t your employees. They are usually a one-person business that works for dental offices for a short period. Irrespective of whether it’s for a few months or a couple of weeks, hiring a dental office contractor could help your practice to grow in a more flexible way.

But, all said and done, is it easy to find a reliable contractor? Some independent contractors are unavailable when you need their services, or their work is not up to par. Here are some crucial points to take into consideration when finding the right dental contractor for your practice.

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First, what defines a contractor? 

Like we have already mentioned, a contractor is someone who is hired on a short-term basis. Contractors are sometimes referred to as consultants or freelance workers. To some extent, though, these terms can mean slightly different things, and legal definitions may vary from state to state. 

The most important thing to note is that a dental contractor is not an employee. If you treat them just like your in-house staff, you run the risk of losing money through avoidable extra taxes.

A case of dental hygienist independent contractor, for example 

If you are a dentist or practice owner and you are about to hire an independent dental hygienist, you need to familiarize yourself with the legal implications that exist. You can find a more detailed explanation about that in this other post

Courts have traditionally employed a four-part test to ascertain whether someone is an independent hygienist or an employee: control, ownership of tools of production, the chance of making a profit, and risk of loss. While the test is a good start, it is usually held that it is the nature of the relationship and the intention of the parties involved (as determined by their contract/agreement) that will ultimately ascertain whether a hygienist is an independent contractor or not. 

In other words, when it comes to creating a hygienist contract, practice owners should structure the agreement in a manner that truly reflects the nature of their relationship. For instance, a more independent contractor relationship is likely to allow hygienists to set their own work schedules. Ideally, it would be for a shorter term (e.g., 3 or 6 months) as opposed to being indefinite. Remember, independent contractors are hired for a specific timeline or project, whereas employees tend to be retained indefinitely. 

The contract would also mention that the hygienist can work for multiple dental offices at different locations. More so, it would contemplate that the hygienist may be required to bring his/her own tools and have to pay the cost of repairing or maintaining them. Finally, an independent hygienist may be requested to contribute to certain overhead costs, such as utility costs and marketing fees.  Generally, employees aren’t asked to make such contributions.

As you can notice, there are some quite serious implications to how the relationship between the practice owner and the hygienist is characterized by law. If you get it wrong, you open yourself up to potential additional taxes, lawsuits, and steep penalties. 

Why go for an independent dental contractor?

You may consider hiring contractors for several strategic reasons:

Financial savings — Independent contractors are a less expensive option when compared to regular employees. For example, they do not need to be compensated with company benefits, sick pay, pension, holiday pay, or employer taxes.

Adaptable workforce/Flexibility — Depending on your dental office needs, hiring independent contractors can be an optimal alternative for completing a range of short term goals and objectives. Contractors might be employed as seasonal staff for a few weeks or temporarily brought on to cover for staff members absent due to medical illness or family leave.

Skills and expertise — Contractors often have a unique set of specialization or abilities within a specific field, providing value to dental offices with their professional knowledge. In short, using contractors allows your practice to benefit from an enlarged talent pool without having to hire them on as full-time employees. 

Consider this when finding dental contractors

The process of hiring contractors begins similarly to the process of recruiting an employee. You will identify the workload that needs to be reduced and decide on the qualifications an independent contractor needs to carry out the job successfully. Here are other practical points you should consider when hiring dental contractors.  

Check their references — Do not only focus on the score. Go through the reviews or what other employers (dental practices) have written about the contractor in question.

Interview carefully — you are not searching for a full-time employee, but you should ensure these key boxes are ticked: experience, skills, attitude, and ability.

Get everything in writing (contract) — Once you have identified the right contractor, go ahead and draft an independent contractor agreement. Your agreement should include the work description of the contractor, the scope or length of work, schedules, how you will be compensating them, as well as any other requirements that you deem necessary. Contractor agreements may also include clauses regarding confidentiality, non-disclosure, and termination.

Pay on time — Your payment policy could determine whether other dental contractors will want to work for your practice in the future.

Be inclusive — Even though they are not permanent employees, try to include them in meetings, and other in-house briefings. Make them feel to be part of the team. 

Where can you find the right dental contractors?

The simple answer to this question is: go where they go. Nowadays, some specialized websites or platforms pair dental contractors with dental practices. Cloud Dentistry, an on-demand dental staffing company, is one of them. Unlike a traditional dental temp agency, Cloud Dentistry uses a unique web-based platform to give dental practices greater flexibility when recruiting temps. Practice owners, via this platform, can now reach contractors directly, in real-time, just like a commuter can reach Lyft or Uber. 

Today’s on-demand economy has considerably changed the way things get done; practices need greater agility to scale their personnel up and down whenever there is a need to. For instance, as a professional dental office, you cannot afford to cancel patients chair time just because a nurse or hygienist is out sick. 

Apparently, with Cloud Dentistry, you can now tap into a peer-vetted and pre-screened pool of dental contractors, with the click of a button. The experience is seamless, cost-effective, and less time-consuming since you can urgently fill even the most critical labor gaps from one centralized location.

Through this innovative technology, Cloud Dentistry helps practices to benefit from employees who may be temping in other offices and access a flexible workforce which directly fulfills their needs. As a result, dental offices can spend less time with administrative chores that involve finding contractors, while maintaining production when their in-house staff is unavailable.

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Finding dental office contractors: The bottom line

At the end of the day, finding dental contractors is not too complicated of a process — as long as you try to understand what working with a contractor instead of an employee exactly entails. First, familiarize yourself with the IRS rules, secondly, have an independent contractor agreement in place, and lastly, use modern methods of recruitment. By doing this, you will find the whole process of finding a dental contractor undemanding.  We hope this post will be useful and will help you answer the tough recruitment questions you might be having.