Stop hiring the wrong clinicians!


Many of our clients want us to help them grow their practices. After all, it’s the most obvious return on the money they invest in our services. Inevitably, practice growth, at some stage, will require getting some new fee earners into the practice. This has always been difficult to get right and even now with the massive increase in the availability of hygienists and dentists, it’s very hard to get the right fit for your practice.

Every time I sit in a room full of dentists moaning about the fact they can’t get a good associate I realise what a real opportunity cost this is for them because, if they can’t fix it, they are destined to continue bouncing off their own self imposed glass ceiling. (After all, how can any business grow if it can’t find good people to recruit?)

When we get involved in clinician recruitment, this is the process that we run:

  • We ask the practice owner to take some time to consider and list both the skills they need and also (and just as important) the behaviours they are looking for.
  • We then ask for a list of additional referred requirements (which may never find their way into a job ad) such as age, experience, history etc.
  • Together with the principal we then create a long version of an ad for this position, lots of detail about the job, the practice, the patients and the remuneration.
  • We then shorten this to a modest ad for the usual channels, BDJ etc.
  • If the job is anywhere near the South East of the UK, we consider briefing a competent recruitment agency (we have some favourites).
  • We also ask the principal to share the long version of the ad to their email address book and to their professional network. Sometimes we have them send the ad to an extensive group of local dentists to ask for their help in finding the right clinician.
  • We then help compile the long list and interview, briefly, by phone or Skype.
  • Now, with a short list (usually, no more than three), we assist with face to face interviewing and selecting the preferred candidate.
  • Then we have the preferred candidate spend a day in the practice so the whole team can meet them and feedback to the principal.
  • This is followed (hopefully) by a formal job offer, ahead of agreement, (signed by both parties) and an induction.

Now, none of this is rocket science, but it is probably a lot more focused and systematic than most recruitment run by the boss. Of course, it can still go wrong (and realistically it does about a third of the time!) and so our process is simply designed to minimise the chances of this happening.

In my experience, these are the main reasons why clinician recruitment goes wrong:

  • The principal needs the new associate to gross at a higher level than they have managed to do in previous jobs. (And the new associate doesn’t!)
  • The principal decides to overlook some shortcomings in the new recruit, hoping they won’t matter, and then finds out they do!
  • The new recruit doesn’t share enough of the values and beliefs that the principal/rest of the team have.
  • The principal hasn’t done enough due diligence/found out enough about the new recruit/taken up meaningful references and so the new clinician isn’t quite the person they thought they were…
  • The new recruit doesn’t receive a full and formal induction into the practice values and processes, patient journey etc and they are left to do their own thing (and then criticised for doing their own thing…).
  • The new recruit doesn’t do enough due diligence on the practice and discovers (usually around the end of the first week) that the job isn’t quite what they thought it would be.
  • The new recruit isn’t busy enough/doesn’t earn enough, doesn’t know how to make the most of the patient base they have been given access to.

So, as you can see, there are lots of ways this process can go wrong and it does. In many ways the associate model is flawed and in some practices (where we have helped the principal revamp the clinical model) the best position to recruit is that of a salaried assistant. In these situations, the assistant frees up the high flying principal from maintenance dentistry and allows them to focus on the high value dentistry they excel at.

If you would like to know more, please contact me on or 07770 430576.

Best wishes


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