Dental Talent – Hiring and Keeping the Right Dental Associate

It’s always tough having to replace someone, and dental practices are no exception. Practices spend thousands of pounds on replacing an associate dentist, and an expense like that can derail a business’s plans for several months. Your practice doesn’t have to suffer a cycle of hiring and letting go of people, though – you can do some things to ensure that people stay on and that your recruitment for dentists becomes a success.

Have an action plan for the team

When you want to bring a new associate on board, you must involve other team members in the interview process. When you bring in a new hire without consulting the practice manager or other members of the team, you could create conflicts between the new associate and the other workers. Lack of communication does not happen suddenly; it builds over time, so you should lay the right foundations and develop an action plan with your team. 

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Your team should agree on everyone’s daily production goals, the deadlines for these, and things like how many patients the associates should meet per day. With a plan, everyone will understand what they must do and how their roles fit together in achieving the goals.

Get the right person to join you

After you’ve created an on-boarding plan, it’s time to find the right person for the job. Look for someone who’s a good fit for the role and well-aligned with the practice’s culture. Finding a good fit starts with the interview – your new associate should share your vision about treating patients. Be clear about your expectations for the new associate, and also find out what the potential associate thinks they’ll get from joining your team. See if their priority is mentorship, flexible hours, compensation, or other things.

Start strong and guide the new associate

Ensure your new associate adapts by having a set of expectations for their first month. Have them coordinate with the dental practice manager for orientations on office rules and practices. Also, make sure they can start strong, but don’t overwhelm them – at most, an associate should have just six or seven patients per day during their first month. 

This schedule lets them form relationships with their new patients, be familiar with the day-to-day operations at the practice, and focus on the quality of care. Focusing on quality rather than quantity on the first month sets them up for better performance down the road.

Guide your new associate and mentor them

The first three months are the most critical for determining if an associate will stay for more than a year. During this period, they will be evaluating the practice just as much as your team will be evaluating them. Set aside time during the on-boarding period for mentoring and coaching. You can have shadow days and let the associate observe your interactions with patients, and you could also set aside time for chairside assistance.


Hiring can sometimes be hit-or-miss, and many dentists hope for the best and hire experienced associates. The planning and on-boarding process of someone new can be time-consuming, but investing in your hires ensures that you’re getting someone who is committed to the mission, vision, and goals of the practice.  Putting in place an effective coaching, learning and development plan can be the difference in seeing improved performance by your team and better efficiency.  This can accessed by making use of the latest eLearning coaching solution from Dr’s Bhavna & Rahul Doshi.