The Best Way to Train A New Dental Hire

When a new person is hired, typically the team is excited as it not only offers a new, fresh face to add to the team but it means additional help.  The issue with the new fresh face is that when it arrives at your office, most of the team has not prepared for the idea of training this person.  This eager new hire wants to hopefully be able to learn in their new role and make an impact to help the office, but what happens many times is their presence puts more work or pressure on existing team members.   

Here’s the best way to train your new dental office employee:

There are a few negative things that can come from this.  First, the new hire may start to feel that they are in the way or a burden to the employees that are supposed to be teaching them.  Then they may try to learn by just watching how others do things but don’t really learn the real reason as to why things are to be done a certain way.  They possibly then learn ways that are not truly the right way or might be short cuts instead of the true expected process that should be taught.  Many times, it is because the employee training the new team member either does not have time to train them the right way or they are not necessarily a great trainer.  Either way, the new employee is taught in such a way that it is not effective or established, resulting in a less than well trained new hire.  

The next thing that happens in many offices is the new hire is then expected to start doing some of the assigned tasks, however without proper training and not having anyone check that they are doing it appropriately, they start doing tasks in a sub-standard way.  They think they are doing the best at these tasks but in reality, they are only doing what they have been shown or taught and don’t know better.  This then causes mistakes and puts a spotlight on the new employee as not knowing how to do their job well, when really the issue is not on the new employee as much as it is on the lack of good training.  

There are three easy steps that should be taken prior to hiring the new employee so that they have the highest chance of success in their new position 

First, when an office determines the need to hire someone new, there should be thoughts not only around who needs to be hired and what skills they need to be able to do but also around what their contribution will be to the team.  Once this new hire is trained, what will their job products be and what does that look like?  There should be true tasks outlined for this new hire and expectations of what they will be responsible for.  

The next step in the training process should be to take these tasks outlined above and determine who on the team is best to teach each task or what processes are needed to teach each thing best.  Each task listed might not be best taught by the same person or the same way either.  There might be one assistant on the team who is better at ordering than others, so they should teach that task and maybe another assistant teaches something they are the best at.  Also, somethings such as verbal skills are better taught with a training program like Front Office Rocks or OSHA training best by the company your office uses to make sure you are compliant.  The idea here is to make sure the person best at that actual duty or task or the resource you use in your office is the one to teach the new hire the correct way from the start.  

Finally, once what they need to learn has been outlined and the best way for them to learn it, the time it takes to allow them to learn and become proficient in it needs to be determined.  Too many times, new employees are shown something once or twice and then are expected to be good at it.  That is not fair or realistic.  Depending on the person or the complexity of the task, it will take different lengths of time to learn for different people.  However, there should be a maximum amount of time that it takes for someone to learn each task or duty too because it is also not fair or realistic to the practice or the team to be training someone “new” for years.  This final step is to set realistic expectations as to how long it should take for the employee to learn each area of their job and then let them know that from the start. 

Training should not be an afterthought if you want to have the highest chance of success for the new employee to do well in their new role. 

When you take a few minutes before you hire to recognize what this role’s products are, who is best on the team or best resource to teach each thing and how long it should realistically take for someone to competently learn it, it not only takes the stress out of those first few 

Laura Nelson

Laura Nelson, BS, MS, FAADOM is the founder and driving force behind Front Office Rocks, and the leading provider of on-demand virtual training and resources for dental practices.