Want to Attract the Best Associates? Think Mentorship.

Dental hiring is still not for the faint of heart. While practice leaders are not facing the same abyss of talent they did during the worst of the pandemic — when it felt like every other hygienist was either retiring or leaving for a massive salary increase from the competitor down the road — neither have conditions returned to the pre-2020 era.

Top talent, especially, can continue to write their own tickets. And practices that want to earn their attention need to offer more than just money.

In an interview on Dental Marketing Theory, Clear Aligner Advisor founder Dr. Avi Patel threw out one idea that practice leaders can use to stand out from their peers in the hiring market — by taking an approach that seems obvious but remains unusual in our industry.

Offering mentorship for associate dentists and other up-and-coming professionals in the field.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Attract bright, talented young dentists (or even those later on in their careers who want to continue to grow) by pairing them with seasoned mentors who can not only develop their hard skills but help them navigate the nuances of the profession — giving guidance on everything from the latest technique for placing a crown to the pros and cons of opening up a solo practice versus joining a DSO.

Who wouldn’t see the value in that, not just for the mentee but for the mentor as well? And what freshly-minted dentist wouldn’t leap at the chance to join a practice where they could work with a mentor instead of being simply thrown off the deep end, sink or swim?

But as Dr. Patel reminds us, just because something makes sense doesn’t make it standard practice. “I thought I was going to find a mentor,” he says. “The biggest thing a lot of young dentists assume [when joining a practice] is that the owner or somebody is going to be there to help us out. But it’s very rare to find that.”

We can’t force the dental community to make more of a push in this direction, of course. But we can point out the obvious. Practice owners who make mentorship a priority will be delivering what associates want — and getting out ahead of the curve. 

Remember: In a competitive hiring market, the associate — like the customer — is always right. And in this case, that will remain true even after the market cools.

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