How to Deal with Shortage of Staff: Five Tips for Your Dental Practice

Does your dental practice know how to deal with a shortage of staff? Learn more about what to do below.

Dental Intelligence


March 16, 2023

Even missing one employee can throw your entire schedule off, resulting in overworked staff, longer wait times, and a poor patient experience.

Currently, the dental field is having trouble filling various positions, including dental assistants, hygienists, and even receptionists. Below, we discuss the current labor shortage and tips for helping dentists with understaffed teams keep their practices running smoothly.

Why the Dental Industry Is Facing Unprecedented Labor Shortages

After the pandemic, healthcare professions were among the highest-risk occupations for American workers, and dentists were at the top of the list. Almost overnight, practices closed up shop.

As the shutdown continued, patients put off routine and elective care appointments for months. Once restrictions eased up, the rapid increase in patient volume created an inevitable bottleneck.

According to Marko Vujicic1, the vice president and chief economist of the Health Policy Institute at the American Dental Association, around 40% of dental practices in America were actively searching for knowledgeable employees to fill open positions in August of 2022.

Furthermore, 90% of those practices found it “extremely difficult” to find suitable candidates. Nationwide, dental practices are dealing with overworked staff, months-long scheduling backups, and loss of productivity.

Five Ways to Deal with Shortage of Staff at Your Dental Practice

1. Start Every Morning with a Daily Game Plan

If your dental practice is short on staff, getting through the workday without any bumps or obstacles can be a challenge. In addition, your team has to pick up the slack and handle the extra work until you hire a suitable candidate. With our Morning Huddle and other software solutions, you can increase dental production and start the day with clear communication between your staff for a more efficient workflow.  

2. Streamline Scheduling and Patient Care Systems

When you’re down a staff member and facing a busy day and full appointment schedule, every minute counts. Investing in Online Scheduling and systems for patient care and practice management can help you streamline your workday, increase efficiency, and create a more convenient and positive experience for your patients.

However, using two or more systems can be cumbersome. Instead, look for a single, centralized system that makes it fast and easy to switch between tasks and facilitate all your essential workday tasks at once. Dentists with more than one practice location will particularly benefit from this time-saving solution.   

3. Go Paperless with Cloud-Based Platforms

When learning how to deal with a shortage of staff, one of the best things to do is go paperless.

Dental practices generate a lot of paperwork, from patient treatment plans to consent forms, medical records, billing, and more. Dealing with all this paperwork makes it harder to manage proper care for your patients and can put extra stress on staff, not to mention the security risk it poses. However, you can eliminate that issue and save time by going paperless with a cloud-based platform that offers features like Digital Forms and Consents, flexible payment options, Virtual Check-In, and more.

4. Be Proactive Against Burnout

Dental professionals working in an understaffed practice are at a high risk of suffering from burnout. Being proactive in fighting against this issue is important, as employee morale significantly impacts the quality of care your practice provides.

For example, you can take steps to pinpoint the triggers that affect your staff the most through an anonymous survey. Some factors might include excess overtime hours, lack of support, and working through breaks. Then, you can determine which problems are the most pressing and how to solve them, ensuring your current staff remains happy, productive, and engaged.

5. Cast a Wide Net When Hiring

Dental staff recruitment can be a challenging and time-consuming process. When searching for suitable candidates, use every resource available to you. For example, you can look on LinkedIn, post jobs on your Facebook page or website, use online job boards, or post openings at nearby dental schools.

Put time and effort into creating job postings to entice qualified candidates to apply. Casting a wide net can help you fill job openings faster and reduce the time and money spent recruiting.

Advanced Software Solutions for Dental Professionals: Dental Intelligence

Knowing how to deal with a shortage of staff at your dental practice is critical to its continued success. With our cutting-edge solutions at Dental Intelligence, you can drive growth, streamline your workflow, and keep your practice thriving even when understaffed. Schedule a demo today!


1 WBUR article

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