Overcome These 5 Challenges in Hiring Dental Professionals

by | May 20, 2024 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

It’s been 4 years and you are still trying to hire. 

If you are a dentist or dental office manager and have been trying to hire and keep your office fully staffed since May of 2020, you are actually in the majority.  

With that being said, most DirectDental clients have managed to hire new team members and keep their office fully staffed. We have actually managed to figure out a way to overcome the 5 biggest challenges dental office face when hiring Dental Assistants, Hygienists or Front Office Dental Personnel.

This post will discuss those challenges and tell you how dental practices have overcome them and how you can too!  

What are the challenges in hiring Dental Assistants, Hygienists and Front Office Dental Personnel?

When speaking with Dental Practices about their hiring needs, there seems to be a few vicious cycles that are preventing the offices from being properly staffed. Here are the top 5. 

  1. You need to hire a new dental assistant, but applicants are asking for more than what your current assistant is making.
  2. Your job post isn’t getting any applicants, no matter where you post it. 
  3. Your team is quitting because you are short staffed. 
  4. You need to hire a new Dental Hygienist to handle your patient load, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone looking for work.
  5. You simply cannot handle any more turnover.

At the risk of tooting my own horn, I have helped many dental practices get out of these scenarios and hire. Here is how. 

#1 Need to hire a new dental assistant, but applicants are asking for more than what your current assistant is making.

The answer to this is going to make me very unpopular, but I’m going to say it.  

You need to give your current assistant a raise.  

If you don’t, they will realize what offices are paying other Dental Assistants, and then they will leave you for a new job with higher pay.  

Then you will have 2 vacancies in your practice and no assistant.

Once you have brought your current assistant’s pay up to what it should be for your area, post a job offering that amount. And make that hire. 

I understand that this will take some budgeting on your part, but really in this market, this is the best and fastest way to keep your practice staffed. If I come up with another way, I will let you know. 

#2 Your dental job post isn’t getting any applicants, no matter where you post it. 

One of my favorite quotes is, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  

If you are posting your job everywhere and still not getting any applicants, it is not the fault of the job board. Instead, it is your fault for using a bad job post.  

Make sure you write an incredible job posting, and then you will get applicants. It is amazing how that works.  

Call us if you don’t have the time or energy to write a job post that leads to applicant conversions. We would be happy to write it for you and get it sponsored across all the major job boards.  

#3 Your team is quitting because you are short staffed.

Please reread points 1 & 2 for advice on this.  

In the meantime, there are ways to alleviate some of the struggles your office is having with being short-staffed. 

For the front office: Outsource. Many companies offer services ranging from recare calls, answering services, insurance verification, billing, and more.  

Talk with your front office staff, find out what is causing them the biggest headache, and then outsource it. Then, everyone will be happier for it.  

For Dental Assistants:  Find a temp to help on busy days. Even a sterilization tech can be helpful. Or, if you outsource enough work in the front office, you can teach one of the front desk girls to flip rooms and sterilize.  

But please communicate with them. If they know that you understand their pain and you are working hard to fix it, they will be happy to work harder. If you ignore it and continue like everything is fine, you will find yourself another assistant short. 

#4 You need to hire a new Dental Hygienist to handle your patient load, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone looking to be hired.

It might feel like finding a Dental Hygienist is impossible. It takes time, patience, and skill, but when you find one, it is so amazing!

Here is how my clients were able to hire a hygienist. 

#1 Be flexible.  

Many of my clients started saying they needed a hygienist for these exact hours and days. After much begging and pleading on my part to not be so rigid with the hours they were able to hire.  

Your hygienist job post should list your office hours and then says, “if you can work 1 or more of these days, please apply.” There is a very small number of hygienists actually looking to work full time, so if you can hire multiple hygienists for various days, you should be able to fill that role quickly.  

P.S. You can also do this with assistants. Many work 4 day work week and are looking to work 1 more day for a total of 5. If you need extra help, post that you are flexible with the days worked and you will be surprised by all the extra applicants you get!

#2 Pay Up.

The shortage of hygienists definitely has driven up their rates. We find that job posts that don’t include pay or the pay is not above the average rate in that area aren’t getting applicants.  

No matter how great the listing is.  

So, find out what the pay is in your area, and then add a dollar or two.  Just because you put a higher rate on your job post doesn’t mean that is what you have to offer them. When they come in for the interview, impress them with your amazing office and then make them an offer. They will be open to negotiate if they want to work with you. However, if they are the most amazing hygienist you have ever met, they might be worth the higher pay. Only you can decide that.

#3 Use Temp Hygienists

Most offices were able to hire by hiring a temp. It is a great way to take someone for a test drive, and if you find they are a great fit for the office, ask them to take that shift indefinitely.  

#5 You simply cannot handle any more turnover

Turnover really should have its own blog post, and… oh look at that, I have several.

4 tips to effectively train your new employee
How to improve the attendance of your dental employees
Onboarding Dental Employees to Increase Retention
How to Prevent Dental Candidates from Ghosting You
Struggling with Dental Practice Employee Turnover?
Make Your New Dental Employee Stick
Retain Your Dental Employees with Thoughtful Gestures of Appreciation

If you don’t have time to read through all of those right now, here are some the key points.

#1 Communication 

When we talk with applicants looking to leave their job, a big reason is they don’t feel appreciated or don’t get any reviews and feedback for their work.  

And I think it is so silly to lose someone over that. Instead, you should be talking to your team and explaining any issues or setbacks your practice is having and let them know that you appreciate all their hard work.  

#2 Pay 

I’m sorry that I have talked so much about pay in this post. According to Dental Post’s 2024 Salary Survey Report – the #1 reason Hygienists, Dental Assistants and Front Office Dental Personnel will be looking for a new job in 2024 is for better pay. It’s not personal; it’s business. Make sure your team’s pay is up to snuff and keep them around. 

#3 Short Staffed 

You are losing staff because you are short-staffed. That is the absolute worst.  Again communicate to let your team know that right now is hard and you are doing everything you can to hire someone. Maybe even pay them a nice bonus for doing the work of 2 people, that could keep them happy until you are able to hire.  

#4 Someone on the team is unpleasant 

Right now, with many dental offices looking to hire, nobody on your team has to put up with a Negative Nancy. If you find someone trying to leave, ask them why. If they say it is a team member, talk with your other team members and try to find out who is causing the problems. And then address it.  

Whew, this is one loaded post. But I hope it gives you some new insight into your current struggle to hire.  

If you have any other chanllenges or hiring advice you want to share, put it in the comments!  


Holli Perez 

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