Hiring for a Pediatric Dental Practice

hiring pediatric dentistry

Is there an optimal strategy for hiring that will land you the next dental dream team? Look at it this way — the better your team is, the more you can focus on dentistry. The more tasks you can delegate to assistants, hygienists, or administrators, the more treatment you can provide to your patients.

It might not be fair, but a single person on your team that doesn’t reflect well on you can put a big dent in the reputation of your dental practice. In an ideal world, you’ll have exactly the right people you need on your team, with everyone motivated to succeed.

How do you find the right people?

Hiring for a Dental Practice is Expensive

Hiring and training is more expensive than most dentists realize. It may cost a dental practice up to $20,000 to replace a team member. When you factor in lost productivity with new hires, the cost of recruiting goes even higher.

See? Expensive.

The expense is compounded by the fact that the average hire will only stay on for two years and is only productive for half of that time. Experts estimate that even experienced new hires can take over a year to acclimate and reach high levels of productivity.

What gives?

No matter how much experience someone has coming in, adjustment can take a great deal of time. They need to acclimate to their environment and learn your expectations. They might not feel comfortable communicating at first, because they haven’t determined how to interact with the rest of your team, or they aren’t sure of themselves.

The same communication gap can come from the employer, too: are you unsure how to approach a new team member or provide constructive criticism?

It often takes much longer than one might think for a new hire to adjust and hit peak productivity, so hire right the first time around so the acclimation and training period is an investment, not a loss.

Hire the Right People

jobs pediatric dental assistant

Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” There’s some truth to it, and your best hiring leads will likely come from the people you already know. Your next office manager might already be on your team, if you’ll give them the chance to grow.

Your team members might be able to tap friends, family, or former classmates or coworkers to fill your next opening. People tend to socialize with others like themselves, so ask your best team members to help your recruiting efforts.

Offer a recruitment bonus to anyone who helps recruit a new coworker. Start the new hire with a probationary period, and if it’s working, the referring employee can earn that bonus when you offer the new person a permanent position.

There are other great avenues to seek out candidates for your pediatric dental practice:


  • Hanging a “help wanted” sign isn’t going to give you the candidates you want. Start by posting your job on the PDTA and other job sites.
  • Make sure there’s an employment section on your website so that applicants can send their resumes straight to you. I encourage you to keep the page up even if you’re not actively hiring.
  • Posting a temporary banner on your homepage and utilizing social media feeds are both viable strategies when your practice is actively trying to recruit top-notch talent.

Play Detective

Okay, your recruiting efforts have borne fruit. What do you do with all these great prospects? A few minutes of investigative work can save you a lot of time, money, and effort down the road. If you think someone might have what you need, do a little research to see if they are a good fit for your team.

Google is your friend. While I encourage you to not be too judgmental about what you find, you might learn that a candidate won’t represent your brand well. How do they portray themselves on social media? If you don’t find anything, then at least they’ve kept a low profile.

Build a personality profile. Would you rather have an employee who is a walking encyclopedia, or someone with critical thinking skills? Gaining insight into a candidate’s personality can help you identify key traits that might be more important than a perfect resume or experience. Attitudes rarely change, but skills can be taught.

Meet the team. If you’ve narrowed down your list, send your top pick out to lunch with the rest of the team. An informal interview can give you feedback that you’ll miss in a one-on-one setting. Consider the team’s input, but remember it’s your decision.

Contact previous employers. At the very least, make sure the information listed on the resume adds up. Don’t open employers up to liability by prying for details, but you can ask if they would rehire the candidate if given the chance.

Post Your Openings and Find Your Next PDA Right Here

You’ve found the perfect team member; great! They’re your first choice, but how do you make sure that you are their first choice? A great hire will probably have competing offers, so be willing to negotiate.

Pay attention to what their actual wants are; it’s not always just about money. Benefits, flexibility, or room to grow might be even more important to them than their salary.

You might find the best pediatric dental assistant in the world, but you also have to keep them from leaving your practice and joining a competitor down the road instead. Taking advantage of opportunities such as the PDTA 4th Annual Conference is how you keep your team improving and motivated.

Respect your team members, and earn their loyalty by encouraging them to learn, continue their education, and take on more responsibility. Their job satisfaction will go up significantly.


~ Dr. Rhea Haugseth