Trying to Find Dental Hygienists and Assistants for Your Dental Office? The Hiring Pool is Drying Up.

Hiring, hiring, and hiring. How can you possibly think about dental practice growth when you don’t have enough employees? While patients are returning to dental practices at the highest rate since the start of Covid-19, much of your dental staff has jumped ship, and many of them aren’t coming back to your practice, or any other for that matter. Right now, lack of team members is the number one rate limiting factor to dental practice growth.

No question, hiring is difficult – even worse if you think that there are no good options. You want to hire the right person, but unfortunately you can’t be picky, given the lack of available talent. And, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it’s not going to get any better – at least for the foreseeable future. In fact, plan for it to get worse – way worse.

And while many dental consultants are encouraging their clients to throw out a big signing bonus to attract new team members, that may not be the best solution. It may bring people in, but what does that do to the morale of those who remained loyal and worked their butts off every day to keep your practice open?

I thought I would try a couple of experiments to find out what clinical staff members want in a dental practice. I will not reveal my sources, but first I asked a large group of dental assistants and hygienists a question. “If your boss, the dentist, offered you a substantial budget to improve the way you work, what would you do?” I had over one hundred responses – at least that was the count before I went to bed last night. Believe it or not, only two dental assistants responded with “pay me more.” Many hygienists expressed the need for more time with their patients (I am not a hygienist, but three patients an hour sounds rough). For some, upgrading equipment was important to improve the way they work – like the ability to pull up x-rays in the operatory. However, the overwhelming response to my question was to get more organized and be more ergonomically sound.

Next, I focused on dental hygienists and dental assistants who are seeking employment. I asked, “Who has declined a job offer after a working interview? If so, why?” The responses were nothing short of entertaining. Sure, I had a few of these kinds of answers:

• “The doctor threw a ……”
• “The pay was not what was advertised.”
• “The wife was the office manager.”

But the overwhelming response was, “The practice was so disorganized.”

If organization and ergonomics are so important to clinical staff retention, wouldn’t you want to fix it? Not only will it help you retain dental staff and attract new team members. It will also make your team more productive.

“Organized? … We’re organized!”

Are you though? You probably don’t know the problem exists, but that’s ok. There are several moving parts inside a dental practice. When you break those parts up, how complicated are they? How difficult would it really be to get organized? And if you did get organized, you might find that you’ve solved some of your hiring problems.

According to the career experts at Zippia.com, the average cost per hire is $4,425 and it takes roughly 12 weeks for that employee to become fully productive at work. Seems like the easiest thing to do right now is to improve productivity with the team you have. What if you and I work together to make their job easier? It’s going to require you to think that there is a better way to do dentistry, manage your business, improve morale, and maybe, just maybe, improve the way you live. That’s exactly what it’s going to take. The good news is we are here to help. It’s what we do.

My team at Reboot Training is a skilled group of four women with a combined 100 years of clinical knowledge and expertise. Every year, we spend thousands of hours studying clinical inefficiencies in dental practices, and we’d be happy to help you improve your systems, retain new team members, and grow your practice! If you’d like to learn more, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at abachman@desergo.com.


Author Angie Bachman