Ensure an Effective Transition When Adding a New Associate Dentist to Your Practice

May 10, 2023

You know that feeling of walking into an event or party and not knowing anyone? Tap into those emotions, and you begin to realize the value of your process for adding an associate dentist to your dental practice.

Sure, the stakes are higher than entering a “room.” But nonetheless, it’s essential to prioritize the transitional dynamics of onboarding an associate.

From transaction to transition

No doubt, you’re breathing a sigh of relief as you arrive at a hiring decision. Consider the hard work you’ve done for weeks, if not months. 

Receiving and reviewing resumes…check!

Vetting available candidates…check!

Interviews completed…check!

Choices narrowed…check!

Background checks done…check!

Offer made…check!

Papers signed…check!

Start date confirmed…check!

Those transactional tasks require huge amounts of time and energy. Once completed, you’ll want to ensure you’re ready for the equally hard work of helping your new associate transition into your dental practice culture.

How to transition a new associate dentist into your dental practice

Transition is the keyword. The implication is that it takes time — meaning it’s not a plug-and-play process.

Strategic thought about the transitional details is essential to your new associate’s success and their future as part of your team.

Onboard without overwhelm

Onboarding is a process. And it’s best to see it as a training phase rather than a one-off orientation.

The overwhelm a new associate might feel often has to do with their experience level. For example, if your new associate is also a new dentist (straight out of school), then count on them feeling overwhelmed for a period of time.

The “drinking out of a firehose” analogy applies here.

To help ensure a successful onboarding process:

  • Clarify all expectations regarding clinical and management protocols and production goals.
  • Have discovery conversations about their previous workflows (key for experienced associates).
  • Give them space to flex and adapt to your practice culture, team workflows, and patient acceptance.

Assimilate without alienating

Aside from you as lead dentist, team assimilation is a priority for new associates. Again, be careful about assumptions that chemistry between your new associate and present team members will be immediate.

  • Provide initial social interactions such as a dinner, mixer, etc. for your team and the new associate to get acquainted outside of the office.
  • Remind your team to positively build on their previous interactions with your new associate during the interview process.
  • Encourage patience on behalf of your team and your new associate to adapt to each other’s workflows.
  • Always advocate for your new associate by welcoming transparent conversations about their challenges and progress.

And on the patient side — a major part of ensuring good assimilation is to promote your new dentist to your patient base. 

Mentor without micromanaging

Your level of mentoring will of course depend on the new associate’s experience and skill level. Keep in mind that new dentists require a different scope of mentoring than an experienced dentist joining your practice.

  • Train your new dentist with intentional hands-on opportunities that gradually build trust with your assistants, hygienists, schedulers and patients.
  • Create open communication loops where feedback goes both ways. Prepare to offer feedback…and receive it!
  • Clarify your expectations about their “coach-ability.” This helps protect you from perceived micromanagement issues while creating a healthy mentoring relationship.
  • Give your new associate free range to fail, grow and leverage their growth for long-term success in your practice.

Hiring a new associate pumps fresh energy into your dental practice. Getting the process right from the start provides you and your team some breathing room while improving your patient experience and increasing your production potential.

An empowering mindset helps ensure that your new associate grows and assimilates into your practice. Consistent team-building routines are essential to reaching that goal and keeping your dental practice culture strong and inviting. 

Check out the following team-related resources: 

5 Ways to Keep Your Team Improving

How to Appreciate, Motivate and Retain Your Dental Team

Lead the success of your new dental associate with proven tools

The Jarvis Analytics platform helps ensure that you’re tracking the important metrics and staying on track with your goals as your dental practice grows and expands. 

Experience Jarvis in action. Request a demo today!


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