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When it comes to staffing, this year may be the “Year of the Temp.” Between potential Covid-19 staff quarantine situations and an unpredictable patient load, temps may be more necessary than ever now and in the coming months. In our most recent Job Trends Report and Dental Temp Survey results, 35% of dental practices reported they use temps weekly or monthly. But, temp employees are only as good as we allow them to be. It’s in a practice’s best interest to take advantage of the benefits that temps provide. And right now, with the need for temp help in high demand, and some charging higher than normal rates, it’s even more critical that you get your money’s worth. So, we’ve put together our 7 tips to help you work more effectively and efficiently with a clinical temp hire. 

dental team

1. Be prepared so they can be, too. 

Aside from the typical onboarding checklist, like general office protocols, go the extra mile and tell them what kind of software your office uses. This is extremely helpful to a temp hire who is walking into a new software system they aren’t used to. They can spend a few minutes the night before watching YouTube software tutorials/demos and get up to speed faster so they’re ready to hit the ground running. 

2. Communicate early and often. 

Show your temp where things are ahead of time with an email or by texting photos of your office – including any specifics they need to know. Save time by creating a reusable onboarding email that you can update and send out quickly. If you’re in need of temp help right away, chances are you don’t have time to throw one together last-minute, so go ahead and prepare your email now so it’s ready go when you need to communicate quickly! 

Also, let them know what PPE you have available as soon as possible. A clinician will want to know as far in advance as possible about what will be provided so that they can prepare themselves. This allows them to make arrangements for any additional PPE they feel the most comfortable and confident using in an office they have never been to. 

temp with PPE

3. Once they are there, keep their time as clinically-focused as possible. 

Make sure your team is ready to support your temp. No matter how great a temp is, they are not perfect, and will not know where the gauze is or maybe even how your particular autoclave works. Having instruments ready and the room stocked before the temp arrives saves time. And you’ll need that extra time to go over protocols like sterilization and check-out, and what digital or manual x-rays you expect them to use. The front desk can assist in checking in/out the temp’s patients as well as save time by setting the patient’s next appointments. Being prepared means you use your temp hire more efficiently and maintain productivity. 

temp with dental x-rays

4. Give patients a heads up.

When possible, it’s always a good idea to let your patients know ahead of time if they will be seeing someone new. You don’t want a patient who is already anxious about their visit to get stressed out unnecessarily because they expected to see their usual hygienist.

5. View them like a consultant. 

When you only know your office with its particular protocols, equipment, and operations, it’s easy to think it’s the only way of doing things. As an RDH temp for many years, I had the advantage of working in over 100 different dental offices. While there were commonalities, there were also subtle and sometimes stark differences where certain practices did things differently. Those differences sometimes made teams more effective and made for more productive and profitable practices. 

If you have one of these experienced temps, don’t be afraid to tap into their extensive knowledge base. Many are experts in certain areas of practice functions (proper cleaning and maintenance of dental water lines, etc) and could provide valuable insight or expertise that could save you time or money. Dentistry changes so fast, it can be hard to stay on top of everything. Each person has their passion and their knowledge, so leverage it to your advantage. 

6. Debrief with them at the end of their shift (or as soon as possible.)  

Ask them for honest feedback. Given you have likely made many changes to your office protocols since Covid-19, it’s time for a check-in. Get a fresh, outside perspective from your temp hire. Ask them what they perceive as your strengths and weaknesses? What can you do better? Look at them like a “mystery shopper.” Patients don’t know and can’t tell you how to improve your practice, but your temp can. 

7. Treat them like you would a permanent hire.

Time is in short supply in our schedules these days, and finding a good temp is taking longer. So, if you like a particular temp’s work and they have a good experience with you, there’s a good chance you will work together again. Following these best practices will help you recoup the extra time you spent training them. It is challenging to continue to onboard new temps who have never worked with you before. Having a solid bank of temps you can call on at any given time is critical.

Besides being the right thing to do, treat your temps as you would a permanent hire. Their experience with you could swiftly become public knowledge with the touch of a button on social media. 

Temp hiring just got easier. 

I started DentalPost fifteen years ago when I was pregnant with twins. It was as an answer to my own need to make temping easier for myself and others like me who needed a flexible schedule. So, this month, I’m thrilled to be releasing our new and improved temp product with extended postings, flexible scheduling, and more access to help you find better candidates, faster. Learn more about Temp 2.0 here.

Temp 2.0

DentalPost is the dental industry’s premier and largest online and mobile job board.
We connect and educate more than 850,000 job seekers in the U.S. and Canada to build better places to work through teams that excel.

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