As a practice grows, personnel must grow with it, and teambuilding can really make or break an office’s expansion. Many practice owners, by putting new employees on the job without proper training and apprenticing, can set themselves up for a loss in this regard.

I’ve seen it happen too many times that a new hire, such as a receptionist, gets put on the job the first day with little to no training and then is left by themselves. A week later the office manager wonders why phone calls are being mishandled and decides that the new receptionist isn’t going to work out or it’s easier to just do it themselves. The new employee was really never set up correctly to succeed.

I’ve also seen it the other way, where the new employee stays on board for months or years but is always making the same mistakes, and the other employees just figure that’s the way he or she is when in reality he or she was just never trained  or apprenticed properly.

You probably have at least one or more employees who really know what they are doing and who you can trust. Someone who seems to know what to do before you say it.  Whether it is your office manager, assistant, or a front desk staff member, it’s someone who you wish you could clone so that they could fill all the positions in the office. As you expand, you want to replicate that type of employee, but how do you do this?

You should “apprentice” new hires under your best, most experienced employees.

Obviously, any required training for relevant technical positions should be done before that, according to the laws and regulations of your state. Also, additional training is recommended for positions such as office manager, treatment/financial coordinator, and PR director. But beyond that initial training, the employee should apprentice under someone experienced in that job.

(Related: The 4 Most Common Mistakes in Hiring Employees)

If the office manager has been scheduling proficiently for years and you hire a new scheduler, the scheduler should mirror the office manager as he or she schedules for a day or a few days, and outside of production time they can talk over and answer any questions the new scheduler has. Then the office manager should give the new scheduler a few patients to schedule under his or her supervision until they are able to schedule proficiently themselves and the office manager no longer has to have his or her attention on whether or not the job will be done correctly. It may take a while to apprentice them on all aspects of the job and get them confident in handling each of the little problems and issues that can arise. It should not take an endless amount of months.

Now, you are not necessarily looking for someone who does everything exactly the same way as the office manager. You’re looking for someone who can get done what they are supposed to get done on the job. The new scheduler doesn’t have to be every bit as productive as the office manager, but they do have to get patients scheduled properly according to the way you wish your schedule to be run. They should be able do the functions of the job themselves so that you or your office manager don’t have to constantly worry about it or need to intervene.

It is important early on in the training process, before you put them on the job fully, to give them a few small things to do themselves. These should be simple tasks that don’t require vast know-how or experience, for the purpose of ensuring that they can get things done and complete pieces of work assigned to them. This can be an early sign if the new hire will be able to perform on the job the way you need them to, regardless of training or apprenticeship period.

As I mentioned earlier, many positions do much better with additional training. An office manager should absolutely be trained as an executive, because that is what they are. You need someone who is able to handle all aspects of managing a practice. Treatment coordinators and financial coordinators should be trained on the subjects of communication and sales. A PR director should be trained in the subjects of PR and marketing. Training for all of these and other positions is available here at MGE. Give us a call at (727) 530-4277 to learn more.


Michael Menkhaus provides this general dental practice management advice to furnish you with suggestions of actions that have been shown to have potential to help you improve your practice. Neither MGE nor Michael Menkhaus may be held liable for adverse actions resulting from your implementation of these suggestions, which are provided only as examples of topics covered by the MGE program.

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