Dental Student Guide: Interviewing Your Next Dental Employer

The interview is a great time to ask pointed questions that uncover how the business operates and management’s expectations. Your name will be on the chart so it’s important to know that your professional reputation is closely tied to your employer’s business practices.

In this podcast I’ll discuss six key ways you can evaluate a potential employer. Let’s get started!

For me, I’m focused on the aspects of employment that impact your professional reputation. That includes how the company prepares dentists for clinical challenges as a result of working with patients. Treating the wrong tooth, sedating the wrong patient, and allegations of professional misconduct happen everyday. Asking a few critical questions will vet the bad actors from the good.

Here’s my top 6 employer interview questions in no specific order:

What training and development investments does your company make for staff and doctors?
Investments in training staff and doctors shows that the business cares about elevating the performance of the practice. Properly trained people can reduce the number of errors and increase patient satisfaction with the dental experience. Additionally, training classes for OSHA, HIPAA, and infection control are required by law and keep employees safe from injury.

Follow up questions: Give me examples of the most recent training events and what the business purpose was. Was there any measurable lift in performance?

Do you provide risk management training?
Clinical challenges can pop up at any time for both new and tenured dentists. Proper clinical risk management training prepares the practice to handle adverse events or unexpected treatment outcomes. You elevate your protections, and secure your reputation, by working for a practice that implements strong risk management techniques.

Follow up questions: Do you require all clinicians to take risk management training and with what frequency? Do you reimburse for training expenses that I might take?

How are patient complaints handled?
I’ve seen small things get blown out of proportion when the practice mishandles patient complaints. In reading the Texas State Board complaints from the past four years, it’s easy to see where some dentists failed to manage the problem up front. Inaction resulted in needless board complaints and legal action against the dentist.

Follow up questions: How many board complaints have been raised against this company and employee dentists? What were the allegations and the result of the board investigation? What is your process for addressing patient complaints?

Do you provide malpractice insurance?
The answer to this question is either yes or no. What’s important to know is how you will be defended when you are involved in a claim. More importantly, how you will be defended for a procedure that occurred prior to terminating your employment. There are a couple of things to consider with respect to buying a tail policy which we’ll cover in another post.

What is the compensation structure?
You should clearly understand the math behind getting paid prior to working for any employer. Have your employment agreement in writing so there are clear expectations. We’ve heard from many new dentists that conflict arose due to a misunderstanding of the compensation plan.

Follow up questions: Do you pay based on production or collections? If I terminate employment with you, how will you handle the payment for the work that was completed and not yet received? Employers might keep any collections owed the day you terminate employment so watch out for that.

What traits does your ideal candidate possess?

Good employers will have a clear concept of what talent looks like and desire well fitting employees. Be careful of dental employers who only seek out skills and lack a concept of ideal talent. Think about it. You’ll be working with the previous hires and the quality of dentistry they bring. Avoid companies where the bar is set a “good enough” and have a high staff turnover.
Follow up question: What is your doctor and staff retention? Why have doctors left the company? What’s the average tenure of your clinical staff?

Review the employment contract and understand the restrictive covenants, compensation structure, and termination of employment process. We’ve heard horror stories that were easily avoided with well placed questions about the work agreement. Lastly, have a professional review your employment contract and understand the employment provisions.

Dentist Secure is the premier provider of insurance programs for newly graduating dentists. Take a look at their Web site and get in touch for specific questions.

Cary Smith, CPHRM is the CEO and founder of Done Desk, Dentist Secure, and Dentist Secure Labs. His companies provide amazing solutions that manage risk to your people, practice, and patients.

Cary is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management from the American Hospital Association and the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management.  His experience includes leadership roles in HR and recruiting for fortune 500 companies like Motorola, The Hartford, and CIGNA. Cary has trained thousands of medical professionals, provides keynote lectures to local and state dental societies, and works with medical entrepreneurs to address risk within the practice.

Need in-depth training? Two options:

  • Join us for our 2018 Big Risk Conferences for 6 hours of CE in Risk Management practices. Schedules are forming now. Hit the pre-registration form below.
  • Call our office to schedule in-office or group training events that engage, educate, and entertain.
Pre-Register for our 2018 Big Risk CE Events in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, and The Valley!
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