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Employees You May Need to Start Your Dental Practice

start your dental practice

From the initial planning steps to opening the doors to your new dental practice, you need to learn, prepare, organize, and execute a long to-do list. One of the most important things on the list is understanding the scope of hiring the employees you need to start your dental practice. What employees do you need? How do you build a successful dental team? What are their roles and responsibilities? How do you empower them to help grow your practice? 

Let’s take a look at one of the dental essentials required to build a successful dental practice–your employees. 

Opening Your New Dental Practice

Once you have made the initial decision to start your dental practice, there is a lot within your realm of responsibility. You need a business plan, financing, and a space. You need to determine your clinical and office needs. You need to figure out insurance, licensing, regulations, compliance, permits, and the scope of your marketing. You need to hire a lawyer for legal considerations and an accountant for your finances and taxes. And you may want to hire a dental management consultant service to help with all those responsibilities. But, you cannot open the door without hiring your dental team. 

The hiring process includes:

  • Posting job advertisements through appropriate channels
  • Completing the application and interview process
  • Checking references and verifying licenses
  • Completing employee paperwork
  • Establishing employee benefits
  • Instituting and communicating employment policies
  • Employee orientation and training 

Your Core Dental Team

Your office has two essential areas:

  • Dental care
  • Business operations

Both of these areas require the right employees to perform what it is your office does–care for your patient’s oral health. You need a core team to fulfill the essential roles and responsibilities of your office. From this core, you can build a larger team as your practice grows, but to start your dental practice, you need to consider filling these roles. 

Dental Assistant

Your dental assistant is essential to the services in your operatory.

Responsibilities include:

  • Prepping patients for consultations and exams
  • Sterilizing equipment
  • Setting up room for procedures
  • Taking x-rays
  • Assisting during a patient procedure

Your dental assistant is often the first person a patient sees in the operatory before a procedure. Patients usually meet your assistant before they meet you. This means they need to give a positive impression and help patients feel comfortable. But assistants also work with you during the procedure, so competence is crucial. You will rely on them every day during the core operation of your business. A good assistant directly results in the quality of care you provide. They help set the tone and give encouraging support to patients during a procedure.

Dental Hygienist

Your dental hygienist performs routine procedures with patients in your operatory. They are the main person that your patients see on a regular, scheduled routine basis. It is the person they spend the most time with while in your office and is essential to patient care. 

Responsibilities include:

  • Educating patients on oral health
  • Showing how to keep their teeth and gums healthy
  • Instructing how to avoid plaque and periodontal disease
  • Cleaning teeth and gums
  • Polishing teeth
  • Performing other routine treatments

Your dental hygienist is your first line of information on oral hygiene and someone your patients speak with before you do. They lay a lot of ground work so you can make the most of your time as a dental care professional and a business owner. 

Dental Front Desk Receptionist

Your receptionist is the very first person your patients see when they enter your office. It is the external face of your dental practice. A receptionist needs to present a positive, calm, and reassuring face to your patients and also show that they are competent to assist with logistics questions. They need to help instill trust in your practice and show that it is a place of care.

Responsibilities include:

  • Answering phones
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Recording insurance information
  • Fulfilling clerical duties for billing
  • Sending reminders
  • Assisting in operational procedures such as marketing 

Dental Office Manager

The scope of your dental office manager’s responsibilities depends on the size of your office. This scope may be narrower when you first start your dental practice but will grow over time. Hiring someone who is capable of growing their responsibilities along with your practice is vital. A capable, flexible, and detail-oriented employee who desires to run a smooth operation is necessary.

Responsibilities include:

  • Overseeing daily business operations
  • Contributing, completing, or delegating office tasks and procedures 
  • Ensuring efficient office operations and functions
  • Ordering equipment and supplies
  • Conducting job search procedures
  • Coordinating staff schedules
  • Executing employee payroll
  • Employing other software programs to organize and manage office procedures
  • Fulfilling other duties not requiring a full-time employee, such as marketing and social media 

Medical Billing and Coding Specialist

Your medical billing and coding specialist is the person in your office who ensures that you get paid. For your dental practice to work effectively, it is imperative that they understand how to speak the language of insurance companies. They need to know the necessary paperwork involved in the process of payment. Someone who is skilled in this area is crucial to the success of your practice. 

Responsibilities include:

  • Communicating with insurance companies
  • Making sure billing procedures are followed
  • Ensuring billing is coded properly
  • Completing paperwork for timely payment 

Empowering Your Dental Employees

Learning to effectively motivate your dental team is an essential part of dental practice management. Developing and maintaining a performance measurement system can be a valuable tool for empowering your dental employees as you start your dental practice.

A performance measurement system is a method of laying out a set of measurements to gauge an employee’s on-the-job performance. It’s a process to evaluate how well an employee is doing their job.

Your employees can see this process as a negative. It can feel like you are checking up on them, judging them, and criticizing their work. But this does not have to be the case. 

By taking not only the interests of your practice into consideration, but also that of your employee’s career goals can make the process a net positive. It is an opportunity to set up an effective dialogue. You can motivate your employees by showing an interest in them as valuable individuals who contribute to the success of your practice. 

A performance measurement system includes three basic components:
  • Goal Setting
  • Performance Review
  • Performance Improvement Plan 

Goal Setting

Goals are specific objectives that can be reached over time, whether financial, in patient care, or on a business process. Effective performance goals align with both an employee’s job description and with the business goals of your practice. Goals need a timeline along with achievement steps and measurements. Clearly communicating and documenting goals supports employee commitment.

Goals can include:

  • Specific accomplishments to work towards
  • Projects to complete
  • Knowledge or skills to acquire
  • A challenge for growth in the position 

Performance Review

Setting goals is one thing, but reaching them does not happen without assessment.  

The evaluation process needs to measure an employee’s:

  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Contribution to the practice
  • Career development path
  • Training and growth
  • Promotion and pay increase decisions

Employees need to know if they are meeting expectations. Having an on-going and timely feedback process helps motivate employees and builds successful relationships between you and your team. 

Performance Improvement Plan

When you start your dental practice, your employees are new to working for you. This can result in unclear communication and employees falling short of meeting expectations. It’s important to have a process to evaluate, communicate, and set an improvement plan. Implementing an action plan with reasonable steps and necessary training can be the difference between difficulty in filling roles and building a successful team. A documented performance improvement plan also serves as a record if you need to ultimately let an employee go.

Dental practice management consultants can help you start your dental practice right by further developing effective employee management processes. 

Building A Successful Dental Team

When you start your dental practice, it is vital to understand what employees you need for your core team, who is best suited to fill those roles,  and how to empower them to execute their responsibilities. It’s the first step to building a successful team and a successful practice once you open your office doors.