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The Perfect Plan for Onboarding a Hygienist

You’ve hired a hygienist to join your dental practice. Now what?

There is no doubt it can be frustrating to train a new employee, but it can also be frustrating as a new hire to go through “trial by fire.” Do your new team member and yourself a favor; implement an onboarding plan, and simplify the process for everyone. If you’ve done your due diligence in the hiring process, keep a specific onboarding checklist, and have clear expectations for your team, the training will be much smoother.

Here are 3 simple steps to make your onboarding process pain-free.

1. Be Prepared With an Onboarding Checklist

When a new hygienist walks in the door the first day, they do not know everything about your practice. If they did, we wouldn’t be writing this article right now. Be sure to have a detailed checklist of to-dos for them and your team. We suggest the 3-3-3 onboarding model; this stands for 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months. Breaking the checklist down this way allows for accountability and clarity for both the new hygienist and your existing team. In many cases, you can delegate some office protocol training to your team. The lead assistant can show the new hygienist the flow of the back office, sterilization, and ordering. The front office can share scheduling and software processes. Each item on the checklist has a due date, the person or department responsible for training the new team member, and the current status. The practice owner and staff determine the items on the checklist.

2. Give Clear Expectations

Each doctor and office can be so different, be sure you are crystal clear about your expectations , even if you discussed them in the interview and job offer process. Provide your hygienist with a detailed job description and be specific about your preferred protocols. For example, would you like the hygienist to verbally express their treatment concerns for a patient (prior to an exam) with you, or would you prefer they write it down for you to review? These details are easier to iron out before beginning patient treatment and will also remain on a training document (the onboarding checklist).

Another benefit to having your systems and processes in writing is the ability to use them as a guide for temporary hygienists.

3. Check-in with Your New Hygienist at Set Intervals

When your office is always busy, it is easy to put off a quick meeting with your new hygienist, especially if you feel they are doing an amazing job. Don’t skip these check-ins!  Remember what Kirk always asks, “Are you onboarding your new hire, or are you waterboarding them?”  They may be drowning, and you have no idea. Employees may not always tell you when they have a question or an issue, but when you have a scheduled check-in, it helps them to feel at ease knowing there is time set aside to discuss their onboarding process and questions they have. Small problems, if ignored, can become major issues later. It is worth meeting with your new hygienist at set times, to evaluate the onboarding process.

In conclusion, have a detailed onboard checklist. We recommend the 3-3-3 model. You can download that free resource again here. Have a detailed job description and communicate your expectations with your new hygienist. Lastly, don’t skip checking in! If you follow these 3 simple steps, the perfect onboarding plan for your new hygienist is complete.

Our recent ACT U Hiring Masterclass with Kirk highlighted and discussed onboarding details in depth. For access to this class and many others that provide the best practices for a better life, become an ACT U member today by signing up on our website.

About the Author:  Heather Crockett is a Lead Practice Coach at ACT Dental. She is also a dental hygienist, motivational speaker, and writer. With over twenty years of serving in different roles in dentistry, she combines her experience to provide our community with the best practices for a better life.


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