Dentists: You are not the Human Resource Department

Belle DuCharme, CDPMA, Dental Training Consultant

Have you ever hired someone you thought was perfect for the position of Insurance Coordinator and then regretted it later as the unpaid claims began to swell the accounts receivable?  Even the most astute of us will confess to our shortcomings when it comes to hiring right the first time.  Sometimes we get lucky, and a highly skilled dependable employee falls into our lap without much effort.  This is usually not the norm even if you go through the standard accepted methods of picking the most skilled from the massive file of resumes on your desktop.

Speaking to many dentists over the years a typical response is that "they had a good feeling" about the applicant and trusted their instincts.   Because of that, they were less likely to take the time to check references and verify previous work history and education.  “I look for a great attitude," said one dentist, “and a positive, happy personality"  While these are essential attributes, having the best skills and a solid work ethic is even more critical. 

How to hire great people has always been a challenge.  When you post a job advertisement to a “job board” such as,  you can expect to get many resumes.  Many unqualified people will apply with a shiny resume that exaggerates their nonexistent skills.   Scanning multiple resumes takes time and focus to not miss the red flag warnings.  When you choose what you feel are the best resumes your next step is to contact the applicant by email or by telephone.   Most job boards have the same limitations and require the employer to do much preliminary work before the actual interview.

Many dentists opt to use local dental temp or placement businesses.  While they can screen and check past references and work history, they charge a substantial fee for that service.  The applicant pool can be somewhat limited as they can only represent the workers who have contracted with them, leaving a larger pool inaccessible. For many years, this was a top source but not always available to answer the phone after hours or not able to find someone open in their limited pool of workers.  I would take a warm body at that point, and sometimes that is what I got. exactly  On one occasion the temporary dental assistant walked up to my desk and said,  "I don't like the dentist, and I am not coming back."   Guess who had to “glove up”?

Let technology take you to a more straightforward approach to this time consuming, emotionally draining task.   When you are facing the day without a critical team member, you know how gut-wrenching that can be.  You are not in the mood to sign a contract with a dental temp agency.   Look to newer ways of solving an old problem and get some peace along with it.

For more invaluable insight from Belle DuCharme, visit her website at