You believe you have set up the new dentist for success, but the only problem is this new dentist is not producing like you do. This is frustrating, as you see the production numbers decrease and your dreams of more free time fade. Let's explore three reasons why your associate is not like you.
1. Lack of instruction
Most offices have protocols and systems established for what constitutes standards of care and treatment. Most likely, you have spent years putting the perfect system and management theories in place. The new associate may simply not have your experience, and he or she really needs your mentoring.
Corinne Jameson-Kuehl, RDH.
The most important exam a dental office can give is the new patient exam. This time is set aside for the dentist and team to take a complete medical history, take intra- and extraoral photos, obtain radiographs, and complete charting and assessments in service of preparing a recommendation for treatment. The financial and insurance team members are also collecting data to give the patient, so they have informed information when pursuing treatment. This is where most dental practices make the most production.
You begin to notice that the new patient exam is not producing the treatment that you are used to seeing with new patients. When you check the radiographs and chart notes, you see many deficiencies, as well as details missed by the associate. Perhaps the patient's chief complaint was not addressed, and the four-surface resin planned for treatment should have been a crown.
At this point, take the time to sit down with the associate and go step by step through the photos and radiographs. Show him or her what to look for, and how not to be afraid to give the best dental treatment plan for the patient.
Depending on what environment this new associate is from, the dental school or previous office may not have had the same technology as your practice, so he or she simply may not be aware that you can do same-day Cerec crowns in your office, or that you keep all endodontic and simple extractions in house. The person needs to be taught these systems and your office protocols. Do not expect the associate to know how to do dentistry the way you do.
2. Lack of confidence
“The new associate may simply not have your experience and really needs your mentoring.”
Because of a lack of exposure and education, the new associate may lack the confidence to do many of the procedures you do regularly. Take the time to have him or her not only watch but be involved with the simple extractions you do, or give the associate the easier root canal treatments so he or she can continue to become experienced with bigger production cases. Offer hands-on courses for the associate and allow enough time to learn the clinical systems.
It is also a great idea to have the new dentist role-play patient conversations with you or with the treatment coordinator. This will help the associate become more confident with interactions and patient-level terms. Continue to encourage the positive, and show the team members how to look to the associate as a leader in the practice as well. This will reflect on how patients perceive the new dentist and their level of comfort in seeing a new provider.
3. Does not share your philosophy
Studies show that people are on their best behavior for 30 days on the job, thus the reason for a 90-day review. You selected this associate for a reason. Did the person wow you in the interview process, only for you to discover that he or she does not seem to accomplish what was discussed? Perhaps you have found that the associate undersells to the patient or does not work well with your team. Does the person seem engaged and excited to be a part of your organization, or does he or she seem frustrated and bored?
If it's within the review period, it is acceptable to cease the contract and go your separate ways, should philosophical differences be the reason for a lack of production and engagement.
Remember, if you are seeking a high-producing associate, a personality trait that should be sought after is one with a business spirit with a touch of sales. If this is what you seek, the new associate will be set up for success, and your dream of slowing down in the practice will be a reality. Good luck!
Corinne Jameson-Kuehl, RDH, has been involved in the dental field for more than 20 years as a private practice practitioner, business development manager, and dental staffing company founder and owner. She can be reached through her website, CorinneJamesonKuehl.com.
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