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Easy ways to welcome a new dentist into your practice

Aug. 12, 2022
Are you a new associate or a seasoned dentist who is working with a new associate? Dr. Amrita Patel has some concrete suggestions that can make this transition of “the new doc” as seamless as possible.

So, you’ve found a great opportunity (hopefully a mentor too), had your contract vetted, signed on the dotted line, and now it’s time for your first day. Walking into your new place of work can be intimidating for many reasons, but getting comfortable and familiar in new surroundings is probably one of the biggest barriers for new dentists. As owner dentists, introducing newcomers to our teams, our patients, and our communities needs to be as seamless as possible, but the transition comes with its own challenges.

“What are patients going to think of me?” is the question I hear most often. “Are they going to want to see me? Are they going to ask for the other doctor(s)?” are others. These are all legitimate concerns that many associates have, and while change is hard, here are some easy ways to welcome a new doctor into your practice.

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In our offices, we have our new associates see as many new patients as possible. This way, patients know they have continuity of care with the same doctor and are less likely to balk at an unfamiliar face. As a patient myself, I feel more comfortable when my doctor is either present for the handoff to a new doctor or talks me through the process. We try to replicate this for our patients: as a new doctor starts to see patients, we are usually in the office with a lighter clinical schedule ourselves to be able to troubleshoot, answer questions, or help with consults and treatment plans.

I mentioned finding a mentor; here is where practice owners have a chance to be a mentor for their new doctor. Another great way to get familiar not just with the team but also with your new community is to participate in the outreach activities that the office takes part in. Chamber of Commerce events, charity events, and school-based oral health initiatives are all great options. We often pair our new associates with the team member in charge of a specific event, and that way, many introductions can be made before patients ever set foot in our office. Oftentimes, I’ll see a patient who I know will be seeing one of my associates (this is usually the case when it comes to specialty care), and I will not be completing their clinical care. In these situations, I present the handoff as the patient will be seeing the doctor best suited to care for their specific condition. That way, there are no surprises when patients meet their provider, which ensures the most comfortable experience for all involved.

Change is hard, and change takes time for all of us. As the newest team member, be kind, empathetic, and as understanding as you can be. There will be patients who only want to see their “regular” provider, and that’s OK! Your positive attitude and willingness to learn and grow will help immensely along the way . . . and one day, you’ll be the seasoned doctor mentoring the new associate!  

Editor's note: This article appeared in the August 2022 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

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