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Avoiding Hiring Mistakes in Your Dental Practice


To the casual outside observer, the dental profession seems like a relatively easy way to earn a living. Spending a few minutes with each patient, doing procedures, and consulting with family members does appear to be within the capabilities of the average dental professional, but there is so much more to being a dentist than helping patients. One of the most difficult hurdles a dentist will face in his or her career is managing a clinic operation. Here, hiring practices can make or break a dental clinic. In this guide, we’ll go over some of the potential pitfalls dentists will experience during their hiring of clinical support staff and discuss ways to prevent poor hiring from ruining an otherwise successful practice. 

The Reality of Employee Theft in the Dental Profession

According to dental industry analysts, dentists are far more likely than other healthcare professionals to fall victim to theft from employees of the practice. In fact, the problem is so serious that it is estimated that the costs associated with theft and embezzlement in dental clinics reach a half billion dollars each year. It is possible that embezzlement on the part of staff members is underreported as well, pushing losses even higher. With this figure in mind, it is clear that rigorous hiring practices must be implemented across the dental profession. Unfortunately, few dentists are truly prepared for the challenges they may face when selecting trusted staff members.

Dental Professionals at Risk

Why are dentists at such a high risk of employee-related theft? Some of the risk stems from the fact that the very same attributes that endear a dentist to his or her patients and staff may also open the door to criminal activity. Dentists tend to be very trusting and compassionate; it is well known that it takes a special personality to run a successful dental clinic, and dentists may be too eager to trust those around them.

Another potential pitfall is that dentists are specially trained to diagnose and treat oral health conditions, but they may not have adequate training or experience in managing a business. In fact, a significant percentage of dental professionals indicate that they do not like the business management aspects of clinic operations. This can lead to poor decision-making, including hiring staff members who may not be the best fit for the practice itself. According to figures compiled by the National Employment Law Project, about one in every three adults in the United States has some sort of criminal record. That translates to about 70 million U.S. citizens. The chances of a dentist hiring someone with a criminal record are very high.

Protecting the Dental Operation with Strategic Hiring Practices

What can dentists do to protect themselves when hiring support staff? The first step is to require rigorous background and criminal records checks of all potential candidates. Too few dentists approach the hiring practice with the right criteria; a criminal records check is a deeper look into a candidate’s past, and can reveal information that may make that candidate unsuitable for hiring. 

Some potential candidates may go to extreme lengths to hide their pasts. Dentists can protect themselves by speaking to the candidate’s most recent employers to verify just who the candidate is and to get a recommendation from the employer. Without that extra step, dentists may be selecting staff members that could go on to commit financial crimes against the practice. The major takeaway for dentists is to take the time to do an exhaustive check of a hiring candidate’s background, work history, and even personal factors. This may even include requiring candidates to submit to a financial or credit history check. With the right hiring practices mindset and an eye toward caution, dentists can protect their business and their financial assets from employee-related crime.