Dental Staffing

Would You Prefer to Hire an Experienced Dental Assistant or a New Grad?

The experienced dental assistant brings knowledge that can only be had by someone who’s been there and done it. That said, there are other issues that can deter you from hiring experience should their personality not fit the culture of your Dental Practice. Do they know their role, fully perform their duties, and know their position is legally limited? Do they get along with the entire Team, display warmth and compassion to patients. Do they follow the rules and regulations outlined in your Office manual?

I had a colleague tell me a story about a very experienced Dental Assistant who lacked boundaries. He was a young associate in a group practice and was sitting in the large office he shared with two other doctors and the office manager. 

They had just finished interviewing an applicant and he walked into the office to sit at his computer to document his chart. As he was documenting the patient’s visit, the applicant asked him: “do you guys document your own charts?” He responded with an emphatic “yes”, to which she answered “well, that’s going to change!” The word liability immediately comes to my mind.

She was hired and went on to cause numerous issues with all the Doctors and Dental Assistants. This young Dentist went on to be extremely guarded around this individual and reported the entirety of his employment was uncomfortable around her. She continuously crossed boundaries, was caught trying to perform duties that were legally inappropriate and portrayed an attitude of superiority. 

Then there’s the consummate professional. This assistant knows their role and wouldn’t so much as think about crossing boundaries. They’re secure in their identity, they perform their duties to the fullest, and provide team support whenever and wherever necessary. These Dental Professionals are rare and when you are lucky enough to find them, they should be greatly appreciated.

In the first scenario, this employee went on to stifle the practice. They hired her because they were desperate to have another set of hands. She was, however, their weakest link. The second scenario was with her doctor for twenty-five years. She’s loyal and loyalty goes a long way to improving all areas of the Dental Practice.

Here are two experienced Dental Assistants who bring two very different scenarios to the Practice. 

-one breaks it down

-the other builds it up

Then we have the new grad. This is someone who can be molded, trained, and educated just the way you want them. Training takes time and costs the practice money, so you need to be up for the task. The entire team needs to be on board as the individual grows and learns the real world of this profession. 

I often see new grad resumes with the list of past work experience, totally unrelated to dentistry. I utilize this information because of something a former mentor taught me:

“You can teach a monkey to assist. Look for a warm, people-loving personality.” 

He hired the cashier at his local grocery store, trained her to assist and she worked for him for 25 years. The atmosphere the employee creates can be more important than their experience. 

In the end, it doesn’t really matter if you hire experience or the new grad. What matters is that you approach it professionally. So many Dentists and Dental Office Managers look at the hiring process as ‘something you have to do.’ Get busy and do your homework because it costs too much time and money to mess this up!

  • Post your profile  on about your office culture and the great Dental Team you already employ.
  • When you write your ad, state  specifically what kind of person you are looking to add to your Dental Team
  • Study the resumes.
  • Call references and former employees

For more information read the articles on “How To Hire a Novice and Train Them as a Dental Assistant”.



“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped”
- Tony Robbins