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This is how to hire the right dental assistant for your practice

How many times have you hired a dental assistant you are excited about, only to realize a few days later that he/she isn’t what you anticipated.  Perhaps you are even in a worse situation than you were before employing them. Wasn’t it frustrating? Did you put the blame on someone? Or did you blame yourself since you were the one actually in charge of the hiring process?  Well, avoid such dental assistant recruitment pitfalls by embracing the following tips.

Be aware of the qualification requirements

The employment requirements for a dental nurse, assistant, or paraprofessional vary from state to state. In Texas, for instance, the level of training for dental assistant dictates the kind roles they can be assigned. In Montana, an aspiring dental aide must graduate from a recognized or accredited program.

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Consequently, recruiting the best dental aides requires you to know the mandatory requirements in your state. Basically, these are the minimum qualifications a potential candidate must hold.

Besides state requirements, are there any standards you have set for your dental practice? If you are aiming to position your dental clinic as the go-to clinic in your region, you have to raise the standards. Go for people who hold industry certifications such as the Dental National Board’s Certified Dental Assistant (CDA).

Additionally, you may wish to give more preference to people with some years of job experience. For example, if you specialize in orthodontics, go for a dental auxiliary who has served in an orthodontics clinic before. Experienced dental assistants won’t need as much training as novices, saving you time, effort, and money.  

Know the specific roles you want the dental assistant to be handling

The majority of dental clinic owners are aware of the typical administrative and patient care responsibilities of a dental aide, such as keeping records, scheduling appointments, and preparing patients for procedures. But did you know that some dental aides have expanded responsibilities like carrying out fissure sealant procedures and administration of nitrous oxide?  

When recruiting, it is important to have an in-depth understanding of the kind of assistance your dental nurse or aide will be offering. You wouldn’t want to recruit one with minimal qualifications, only to find out later that they are not suited to carry out certain sophisticated tasks. In short, develop a suitable job description for the dental assisting position your office needs before jumping into the labor market.

Do you know how to source dental assistants?

Running a dental practice is somewhat similar to running a law firm. What makes the best law firms tick isn’t only the status of the partners, but also the proficiency of the legal associates. So, how do these law agencies end up with the crème de la crème of the associates in the market?

Simple! They do not waste their valuable time seeking applications from any “qualified” Tom and Jerry.  Rather, they poach associates directly from the distinguished law schools. In the same way, visit the highly regarded dental assisting schools in your area and try to offer some of the most promising students an externship. And how do you do this? Simply offer a short training program in your dental office, and let the dental assisting schools near you know about it. Interested persons will apply, upon which you will pick who to attend the program. Consider even offering some form of compensation to attract the best aides.

During the externship, you will have a chance to interact with them, spot their weaknesses and strengths, and eventually determine the perfect fit for your office.

Alternatively, you can seek the help of a dental staff recruitment firm to do this on your behalf. Industry-specific recruitment firms have a niche reach, and you will be guaranteed that your posting will only reach interested and the most qualified candidates.

Get ready with the right interview questions

Recruiting the right assistant for your dental office isn’t just about getting experts who have the ability to fill the role.  In this era when workplace culture is becoming a critical tool in many companies, hiring staff for cultural fit is also imperative.

That’s the reason why you must prepare wide-ranging interview questions for your dental hiring in advance. Besides the typical competence-based questions, here are some examples of questions you should ask:

  • What attracts you to the dental assisting industry?

  • How do you prefer working – alone or in a team environment?

  • Is there anything, if given a chance, you could change about this job description?

  • What challenges do you anticipate in this role, and how would you resolve them?

  • What are some of the challenges you experienced in your last place of work, and how did you handle them?

  • How well do you know the professional ethics in dental assisting?

References and background checks

Though some dental practices disregard them, background checks are necessary for any new hire. Regardless of how competent potential recruits look, it’s advisable to validate their credentials and licenses. However, it is good to notify applicants in advance that you will be performing these kinds of checks.

If you reject an applicant because of something questionable you discovered you should also be prepared to notify the candidate. If possible, provide the address, name, or other contact details of the organizations that sold you the report. Ensure the candidate fully understands that you were the one who made the decision to reject their application, and not the investigating company.

Read: streamline your dental staff hiring process and boost productivity >>

As for references, dental office owners should stick to questions or matters specific to the job. The most critical issue here is if the applicant is eligible to be employed. Other questions can include the length of employment, salary, allowances, although the intangibles are fair game too.

Don’t hire in haste

So your longtime dental assistant has given you a two weeks’ notice as you get prepared for the busy season. Who is going to hand you the instruments during operations, schedule patients’ appointments, process X-rays and complete lab tasks?  Whatever the situation, do not panic and employ the first person who sends the application. Take time to make the right selection.

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Position your practice for dental aide hiring success

Hiring dental assistants don’t end the time a potential candidate gets the job. It entails taking steps to make sure the new recruits ease into their job and feel relaxed in their workplace. Some of these steps include:

  • Creating an environment which supports your dental staff and affording them perfect work-life balance, hence guaranteeing retention.

  • Offering competitive salaries, creating workplace policies which promote respect, openness, and trust.

  • Providing flexible work hours.

  • Putting your brand on the map. Many potential dental employees like to work in clinics that have a good reputation.

Final thoughts

Recruiting a dental assistant is not an easy task. But it is a task which must be done – and performed right. Following the above best practices, you are certainly in a better position to land the most qualified assistants in the market.