Last updated on October 25th, 2023 at 11:45 am

You’ve finally found and hired a great team member – yay!

But, now what?

Recently, Chris Menkhaus shared how to find great team members for your dental practice (if you haven’t read it yet, check it out here).

But what comes after that? Do you just show them their desk and let them get to work?

If you’ve ever hired someone you thought was a great fit, but two weeks later you thought to yourself, “Man… I don’t know what happened, I don’t think it’s going to work out,” then this article is for you.

You see, your intuition of them having great potential was most likely correct. But I’m willing to bet that you didn’t do all that you could to ensure they were fully set up to work competently and efficiently in your office.

There are several things you can and should be doing with each new hire to help them have a great chance at success in your practice, all of which are pretty easy to implement right away.

1. Have a good onboarding plan in place

Even if you hired a receptionist with over 20 years of experience, you’re still going to need a good onboarding program for your office.

Their past office may have run things differently than yours, they may be more familiar with a corporate setting, or their last practice may have been specialized rather than general dentistry. Either way, they’re going to need help transferring their knowledge over.

Your onboarding process will be unique to your office, but in general, it should have the following:

  • A full write-up of their job
  • A checklist of their daily duties
  • Training for their position in your practice (Check out DDS Success, an online platform with video training for practically every position in your practice)
  • Drilling/practicing different scenarios with their position

To break this down further:

A full write-up of their job is very beneficial because your practice runs things differently than any other practice. It’s important to write up what is expected of them and how to do specifics of their job. If you don’t have a write-up for their position, I’d recommend having someone who has held that position successfully in the past write up their successful actions and what they do when they encounter different scenarios. If you don’t have anyone who is qualified to do this write-up, I’d recommend signing up for DDS Success so that you have online videos to train them with.

A checklist of their daily duties is essential to making sure they don’t forget something, especially when they’re first starting out.

Training for their specific position in your practice is very important and should be more than just a quick “here’s what you do” explanation. Training should be in-depth and give them knowledge of what’s expected of their position in your office. This may involve shadowing another team member that is experienced on the job for a few days.

Drilling or practicing various scenarios of their position is crucial. For example, a receptionist should practice what they learned through their write-up or training. They should practice with the OM or Doctor how they would answer a phone call, schedule new patients, greet patients when they walk in, etc. This way you can give live feedback and they can get comfortable handling tough situations.

2. Give purpose to their training

If you’ve ever sat a new hire down to watch training videos but saw that they were scrolling on their phone at the same time, they most likely don’t have a good purpose behind doing so.

If you don’t give a purpose as to why they’re getting trained to do the various aspects of their job, they won’t see the importance of it.

This should be more than, “you have to do this as part of your job,” or “It’s just mandatory that you watch these training videos.”

While that may be true, the real purpose of them getting trained on their job is so they can ultimately help the practice get more patients healthy. They are a crucial part of helping each patient who walks through your door regain their oral health. Plus, getting fully trained and competent on their post is what will ensure patients are happy and healthy again, as well as help the practice grow and be a great place to work.

3. Check in on them periodically throughout the day

Whether it’s the doctor, the office manager, or a senior employee in the practice, have someone check on your new hire throughout the day during their first month or so on the job. This way, if they don’t understand something or if they need help with something, you can quickly address it.

Sometimes people won’t ask for help or clarification on something because they don’t want to come across as inexperienced. So, they ignore it or set it aside for later, which results in emotions being built up and mistakes being made.

If you notice an employee seems more negative, frustrated, lacking enthusiasm for the job, etc., someone should genuinely ask them how things are going and be willing to help them. For example, let’s say you notice your receptionist didn’t finish confirming patients that day when normally they do. You could say something like, “Hey, I noticed you didn’t finish the confirms today. Did you run into any difficulty?”

From there you can see what needs to be handled to get them back on track.

4. Have all new employees fully understand the terminology

You’d be surprised by how even very experienced employees don’t fully understand some of the verbiage within the dental industry. This can cause confusion and mistakes within the workplace, so it’s important to create a list of all specialized words and their abbreviations. Here’s a quick example:

Scaling and Root Planing (SRP): Scaling is when the dentist removes all the plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) above and below the gumline all the way down to the bottom of the pocket. Root planing is when the dentist smooths out the teeth roots to help the gums reattach to the teeth.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO): A network or organization that provides health insurance coverage for a monthly or annual fee. Patients who have an HMO plan can only see dentists who are in that HMO network.

In those examples, if the team member didn’t understand those words, they’d have a hard time understanding why SRPs should be scheduled a certain way, and would likely make mistakes with insurance verification.

Obviously, these are just a couple of examples, but it gives you an idea of how you can set it up. There are many words in the dental industry that should be defined and given to each employee so they can fully understand what they mean. That way, as they hear these words while they work throughout the day, they won’t get confused and will know exactly what’s being said.


To conclude this article, I want to mention that the whole purpose of your practice is to get patients healthy again. You hired each employee because you saw that they had great potential at helping you with that purpose. The best thing you can do for your new employees is to help them get up to speed, be fully competent on their job, and understand how you run things in your practice. That way, they can be fully focused on helping each patient who walks through your door and they’ll know exactly what to do in any situation. And as a result, you’ll have employees who win and a practice where patients are happy to visit.

If you have any questions, you can request a free consultation here. And if training is something you need help with, I highly recommend checking out DDS Success to see if it would be a good fit for your practice. You can request a free demo of it here.

Until next time!


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