What Happens When Your Dental Staff Changes?

Roger P. Levin, DDS


Dental practices have always depended on their teams, and for good reason. A great team can decrease stress and increase practice production. Unfortunately, regardless of how great your team is, you must accept that you will not retire with the same staff that you have today. 


According to the Levin Group Data Center, you can assume 50% to 70% turnover in your team if you have 15 or more years until retirement, 30% to 50% turnover if you have 10 years, and 10% to 15% turnover if you have five years. All of this simply means that you will have change on your team.

So, what do you do about it? Do you wait until the change has occurred to begin trying to find the next great team member? Do you streamline your systems after someone leaves because they took all of their knowledge with them? Do you scramble and put other people in vacant positions whether they are truly qualified or not?

None of these are good options. Here are some suggestions that will have a dynamic impact on bringing new team members into your dental practice and giving them a real chance at success.

First, document, update, and streamline your systems now. Document systems in such a way that they can be immediately mastered by new team members. Simply writing a bunch of things down with no explanation isn’t sufficient from a training standpoint.

When you have documented training for new members of the team to follow, they will excel much faster. Well-documented systems allow you to take any individuals with a fundamental understanding of a dental practice and catapult them to excellence in a short period of time. You can also take new hires who have never seen a dental practice and train them 50% faster to do the job. 

Second, understand your culture. Every practice has a culture. Your office culture could be fun and energetic, focused and attentive, or relaxed and soothing. If you don’t want team disruption when you bring in new people, make sure they fit your culture. 


Finally, continually train your team. Dentistry is becoming more complicated, and the jobs are more specialized.

Office managers must master delegation and motivation, conflict resolution, hiring and firing, performance reviews, labor law issues, and regulations. Assistants must contend with more modalities of treatment, patients with a larger range of needs, and keeping the dentist on schedule. And the front desk must deal with more complex insurance, overdue payments, and no-shows. 

Expecting your team to effectively handle all of this without ongoing training is unrealistic. Always make sure all of the members of your team are fully trained and up-to-date in their position.

It’s inevitable that your team will change over time. People get sick, move, or retire. It’s normal. Then there will be some staff members who may not like being in your practice and others who may love your practice until they don’t. This is natural as well.

Staff members are human, and human nature has a lot of variables. The key is to do the best job you can from a leadership standpoint to build a great culture and a great team. These recommendations will help guide you through typical changes with the least amount of disruption to your practice.

Dr. Levin is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with more than 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and more than 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the United States and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email rlevin@levingroup.com.

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