Sharing & Separation of Staff

Dental Industry

With two or three dentists in a single office, it can sometimes be confusing when it comes to who-helps-who.

When you have staff that are 100% committed to a specific schedule each day, it can make it easier on both the dentist and the rest of the team to run on schedule and keep production up.

Whose Assistant?

Believe it or not, there are still multi-doctor offices where the doctors outnumber the number of assistants. The assistant is pulling double-duty, setting up and assisting during procedures for both doctors. While dentists are used to staggering treatment procedures, these assistants are doing the same with the dentists they are assisting.

If you do have multiple assistants, you might find that some of them prefer working with one doctor over the other. This leaves the other doctor out to dry, and causes them to run behind. It’s important to establish whose assistant is whose - and let the assistant know that in the future, they’ll be entirely devoted to keeping that specific doctor on track.

Rather than splitting up your procedures between multiple assistants, we suggest a single assistant-lead for each doctor. Not only is your assistant your shadow, but they know what else needs to be accomplished that day - without weighing multiple factors between other providers and making calls as to who comes first. You’ll always be #1 on their schedule! In order for them to truly be ahead of every move you make, they don’t need the distractions of assisting multiple providers.

When to Hire New Staff

Adding a new assistant to your team so that each doctor has his or her own “team” is essential for your production to grow. Without the manpower, procedures aren’t going to be completed as quickly as they could be with the right help. In the ideal situation, each doctor will have at least one full time assistant.

It can help to have floating assistants that back up both doctors - performing duties like taking x-rays, working with emergency patients, maintaining instruments, setting up rooms, etc. If things are stretched thin with one assistant per doctor, consider adding one extra assistant for every 2 doctors in the practice. Adding in adjunctive procedures with your assistants (such as whitening trays or placing temporary crowns) is cause enough to justify paying the salary of a new employee.

Cross Train Your Team

Before hiring extra assistants, be sure to cross-train your staff. Hygienists and front desk should be able to perform duties to keep the dentists running on time, especially if they have a few minutes to spare. Plus, it encourages an environment of respect among your team members.

What About Hygienists?

If you’re sharing hygienists, you need to have guidelines as to which patient sees which doctor - otherwise it may be that one dentist performs more exams in the hygiene department than the other days. Maybe you don’t mind this, and it’s a “first come first serve” policy, but just like staff, you should have a goal as to what patient goes to what dentist, so your staff can plan for the rest of the day without confusion.


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The information provided is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice or recommendations for any specific individual, business, or circumstance. TowneBank cannot guarantee that it is accurate, up to date, or appropriate for your situation. Financial calculators are provided for illustrative purposes only. You are encouraged to consult with a qualified attorney or financial advisor to understand how the law applies to your particular circumstances or for financial information specific to your personal or business situation.

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