Dental Staffing

Where Did All the Dental Professionals Go?

What happened? Where did they go? Dental Practices from all over the country have asked me this question. Let’s take some time to explore possible explanations.

I’m afraid of Covid-19.

Really! This is one of the answers I’ve gotten from Dental Staff employees. They say: “there’s hepatitis, AIDS, and now Covid and its  mutations. I don’t want to get sick and possibly die.” In the beginning of the pandemic, there was mass hysteria and healthcare professionals from all over the World were consumed with fear of the deaths that mounted every day. And still, there are so many controversies over whether vaccinations and masks will keep us safe. This accounts for some of the excuses, but the exact number is unknown.

I’m receiving Federal Aid that gives me as much, if not more funds than my former paycheck.

Frustrating. Why would anyone who’s sitting at home receiving an auto-deposit every week go back to work? Especially if they can pay their rent and feed their kids. Or, what if their kids aren’t back to in-person learning, or what if their daycare closed their doors?

Again, the percentage is unknown, but I’d guess this explains a fair number of Dental Professionals, especially single Mom’s, who need their kids in school or at a daycare to go back to work! Unfortunately, dentistry cannot be done from home.

I’ve decided to leave my Dental Auxiliary job and embark on a new profession.

Although I know there was a shortage of mostly Dental Assistants pre-pandemic, I have seen Dental Professionals leaving their Dental Staffing jobs for another profession entirely. Some have taken up cosmetology, some nursing, some have started their own work from home businesses. I’ve heard others have left Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene to attend Dental School. We were locked down long enough to have taken time to think about and decide what our next move might be.

I didn’t like my job anyway.

Ouch! Why didn’t they like their job? Was it the overall culture of the office, their co-workers, the Dental Office Manager, or the Dental Practice Owner? Was it the vaccine mandates or constant testing for Covid? Whether its one of these or a combination of reasons, their work environment wasn’t good enough for them to return to their pre-pandemic job.

What can we surmise is in the future for Dental Professionals?

What would compel a Dental Professional to come back to work? For me, it was the paycheck; I returned to work as soon as I found a position; I looked for months. I knew I was going to retire and move out of state, so I wanted to work for a while longer. That said, I make a significant larger paycheck that most Dental Professionals, but that paycheck comes with more responsibility and risk that anyone else’s does.

I used to get comments from my co-workers (predominately in a Corporate Dental setting) about my paycheck. I had to remind them I worked hard to get into Dental School, I worked hard to get out and then the real work started! It wasn’t the Dentistry that was difficult, it was being the Boss; I was completely unprepared to do and do well. That brings me to this:

Are you the Dental Boss that your Dental Staff wanted to return to?

So many Dentists spend all their time and money doing continuing education on innovative technology associated with dental procedures. They hone their skills and practice procedures that will keep them on the leading edge and up to speed with their colleagues. What I think may be more important in today’s immediate climate is continuing education on how to become the best Leader/Boss you can become to find and keep great Dental Staff.

For finding great employees, we’ve posted several articles on issues to consider when hiring a new employee. No procedure is fool-proof, and I learned some startling facts while doing my research. The most startling was that a high percentage of candidates lie on their resume. Now that takes guts! Who in their right mind would be so bold as to lie on a resume? That’s why diligence when hiring is so important. And don’t be fooled:  I discovered that many references are family members or friends as well.

We’ve discovered a system that takes 99% of the guesswork out of hiring. Had this tool been available when I was a practice owner, I would have employed it consistently as the practice grew. We’re happy to tell you we’ve added this company as a New Partner: Insight Hiring. Insight Hiring has a short exercise that can tell you about an individual’s work ethic, work habits and attitude regarding work. This exercise  cannot be manipulated, and it will save you time and money by avoiding hiring mistakes.

In keeping great employees, you need to develop yourself into the kind of Dental Practice Owner your Dental Staff wants to follow. We all have some natural leadership ability, but to improve your skills in keeping your Dental Team intact, I have done some reading that will help you become a better Leader.

Read: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and Intentional Living, both by John Maxwell. While reading these two books, I learned of other leadership books and authors that would benefit as well. In my day, I was an excellent clinician, but not so good at leading my practice. As I look back at my mistakes, I realize I needed to improve my Leadership skills: at finding and keeping excellent Dental Staff and creating an outstanding office culture so that following an emergency (such as Covid-19), my excellent Dental Team would return to me.

I would ask: if you are lucky enough to have an Excellent Dental Team:

  • Do you thank them regularly?
  • Do you tell them and show them they are appreciated regularly?
  • Does your behavior reflect that appreciation?
  • Are there Team meetings and outings?
  • Are they paid a salary commensurate with their excellent work?
  • Are they bonused on their excellent work?
  • Are there “perks” to working under your Leadership?
  • Paid vacations and Holidays?
  • Free dental with discounts to immediate family?

Go to to become a Member and look for great Dental Team Members while taking advantage of remarkable offers and savings from our wonderful Partners.




“You can’t go back and change the beginning,
but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
- C.S. Lewis