Hiring New Dental Staff Assistants: Computer Skills Required

Hiring New Dental Staff

Learned a lesson the hard way this week.

Hired an experienced assistant (10 years she said) who had taken a year off and was ready to get back to work. Super nice lady, confident in her skills and she negotiated a healthy pay rate based on her many years of experience in dentistry. I was looking forward to having her as part of the team.

On day one, we showed her how to log into Ascend, find the schedule and demonstrated the clinical notes. We know that Ascend is so new that there is a learning curve for everyone to get comfortable with this software and we factor that into our expectations for new hires. We know they won’t be quite as quick as we might like at first, just because it will take a bit of time to learn the program.

Our first clue came on day two with this new assistant. We asked her to log into Ascend and she asked where the browser was. Uh oh.

Luckily, the browser defaulted to the login screen for Ascend but she tried to log in without entering in her password- and couldn’t figure out what she was doing wrong.

As the day went on, the entire team realized that this assistant had zero computer skills. Even computer language was foreign. Other team members tried to instruct her to go to the taskbar or scroll down and these words meant nothing to her. You can imagine how frustrated she became – to say nothing of the frustration of the entire team!

Needless to say, this assistant didn’t last more than a week. Our chartless practice with cloud-based software was just not a fit for this assistant who didn’t have strong computer skills. Frankly, this was my fault. I didn’t think to question this assistant on her computer skills even though I grill new administrative team members on theirs.

Lesson learned.

Hiring new dental staff? Ask about their computer experience

If you are interviewing for a new dental assistant or hygienist for your practice, you may want to consider adding some questions about computer skills into the mix. Perhaps by creating a list of all the tasks this clinical team member will need to do in your office that require a computer will drive the point home and help you to avoid a bad situation like the one I created for this poor assistant.

Here’s a list to use as a start:

  • Clinical notes
  • Treatment planning
  • Reviewing insurance information
  • Taking digital x-rays
  • Sending x-rays to referrals
  • Clocking in and out
  • Using communication software between the rooms
  • Cerec


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If you would like to have an organize approach to hiring dental staff for your practice – check out this new Online Course for Hiring Dental Staff.

Check out my Free Resources

If you’re managing a dental practice and want organized systems for easier dental staff training, then check out my Collections System and how to Set Up a Recall System. Once these internal systems are in place, you may want to focus on marketing with a system for New Patient Referral Tracking and handling patient complaints.

And, if you’re interested in a comprehensive approach to run your dental practice and train your team, visit Dental Staff Training Levels.

AUTHOR: Jill Nesbitt
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