The Front Desk Paradox

The Front Desk Paradox

3/20/2019 9:35:33 AM   |   Comments: 0   |   Views: 39

New Hire.
Two words that seem unreasonably intimidating every time they are said, especially when you are the one doing the hiring. No matter the industry, the office, or the person, filling an open position is not an exciting task. But the day you opened a practice, you inherited that responsibility.

So where do you find this person? The answer most commonly heard regarding this question goes something like this, "Just find a dental assistant and teach them how to answer the phones." You've probably thought the same thing, right? On its face, this notion seems like an acceptable solution to the problem; they already know dentistry, answering phones can't be too hard. But the deeper you look into it, the more flaws that tend to be seen. 

Working in the front office is more than answering phones and scheduling patients. That's not something you didn't know, but the roles in the front office can sometimes be diminished into that form of relativity. Administrative staff members are tasked with establishing patient relationships from the very first phone call, handling the logistics of scheduling, and ensuring that fees are collected for services. They are essentially the oil that keeps the machine operating. That's not to diminish the role of the clinical staff. The two must work well together to ensure an efficient office.

Business vs. Clinical Mindset
As the subheading reads, a dental office harbors a mixture of personalities. It is important to be able to distinguish the strengths and weaknesses of each member in the office, and how it impacts their role and their job responsibilities. More often than not, the clinical staff and the administrative staff tend to fall on opposite sides of the spectrum. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule, but most times a person will lean a certain way. But why is this? Why are two people working in the same industry so inherently different? The answer is more simple than it seems.

From the time a person decides what they want to do with their career, their decision is based on what they enjoy doing, and more importantly, what they think they could excel at. Working in a front office position requires a strong set of customer service skills, communication skills, and overall business knowledge. On the other hand, working as a dental assistant does not require the same level of business skills. DAs still interact with the patient and communicate within the office, but rarely are they tasked with scheduling patients and handling finances. Don't get me wrong, assistants can make great administrative staff members, and many offices utilize their assistants as "floaters". But if given the chance, hiring someone with a passion for business will have a much lower learning curve.

Choosing the Right Person for the Job
Keep this in mind, it is much easier to hire an employee that has a knack for finance and customer service and teach them dentistry, than it is to hire an employee with clinical experience and teach them how to run a business.

Want to learn more about the most efficient way to train a new administrative staff member? Check out our online interactive training programs at, or join us for a free demo.

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