How to Work with Independent Contractors in Your Dental Office

Trey Tepichin


Following weeks of only being able to provide emergency treatment, many dental offices are experiencing a surge in patients seeking appointments. But with limited staff, there are only so many appointments you can accept, and every patient you turn away is money lost. One great solution to this expensive problem is to work with independent contractors.

When you work with freelance dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants, you save yourself considerable time, money, and hassle. Unlike a regular full-time employee, you only pay independent contractors for the exact hours you need them to work, you don’t need to worry about providing them with benefits, and there aren’t any complicated employee contracts to deal with.

If this sounds like a dream come true for your dental practice, here are four tips to make sure things go smoothly when you’re working with independent contractors.

Avoid Job Boards and Temp Agencies

Hiring staff through job boards and temp agencies costs you more time, hassle, and money than it saves. Independent contractors who find work this way are rarely quality workers. The companies they sign up with usually have very low standards, so you’re never going to be working with the best in the industry.

What’s more, job boards and temp agencies often earn revenue by taking a percentage of each worker’s salary, leaving the independent contractors feeling undervalued and underpaid. When people feel this way, they’re never going to give the job their all.

Instead, look for more modern solutions that are beneficial for everyone, such as Cloud Dentistry. In exchange for a small monthly fee, dental practices have access to thousands of independent contractor dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants you can rely on to do great work.

Each profile lists important information, such as reviews, education, experience, and skills so you can determine who is the best fit for your practice and your team. When you’ve short-listed a few independent contractors, you can chat with them directly before offering one the position.

The independent contractors who sign up with Cloud Dentistry earn the full hourly rate listed on their profile. They don’t pay anything to access the service, so they really are motivated to do an excellent job. If you find someone who is a fantastic asset to your practice, you can hire them full time without paying any permanent placement fees.

Agree to the Same Terms

Before you hire an independent contractor, it’s important you’re both on the same page. Make it clear exactly what you expect of them and ask what they expect from you as an employer in return.

If you have digital copies of your dental practice’s employee handbook and office policies, send them to your independent contractor and make sure they’re happy to work in accordance with them before you offer a position. 

Make Them Feel Part of the Team

A strong team of qualified professionals who support each other is the foundation of many successful dental practices. Even if your independent contractor is going to be with you for just a couple of days, do everything you can to make them feel part of the team.

Include them in morning meetings, add them onto the team email list, and chat with them throughout the day. When you do this, they’ll be much more likely to feel a part of your work culture and do a good job.

Compliance departments in some dental practices might be concerned that treating an independent contractor as part of the team might make them look too much like employees. But don’t let this deter you. There are specific factors that determine whether someone is an employee or independent contractor, and none of them refer to treating someone like they’re part of the team.

Give Helpful Feedback

At the end of the work day, take a few minutes to let your independent contractor know everything that went right and everything that went wrong. This will help you both massively if they’re returning to your practice later in the week. It will also help the independent contractor improve their skills for future clients.

When giving negative feedback, remember to be kind. Dentists, hygienists, and assistants who provide their services on a freelance basis often work in many practices and have to adapt to new ways of working every day. Be understanding. But if their work isn’t up to scratch, let them know it.

Leverage the Skills of Independent Contractors

Working with independent contractors in your dental practice is a smart move for so many reasons. Follow these tips to help you get the most out of your temp workers and watch your business thrive.

Mr. Tepichin, cofounder and owner of Cloud Dentistry, graduated from Duke University with a BS in biology and economics and a minor in chemistry. He also holds a JD from Harvard Law School.

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