Personalized Mentoring for New Dentists

July 5, 2018
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As the practice of dentistry has become increasingly corporate-dominated, dental school graduates have a wide array of options available to them in choosing an employer. The overwhelming majority of graduates join an existing dental practice but the types of practices vary greatly. From large corporate entities to one-office/one-dentist practices, specialty clinics to general dentistry clinics, private-pay patient focused practices to Medicaid (or a mix of both) and urban to suburban or rural; there is no shortage of choices available to the newly-minted dental graduate.

To help new graduates narrow-down their choices, we asked Dr. Steven Fink,

​VP​of​Clinical Support of Dental Dreams to share his thoughts on what recent or future dental school graduates should consider in choosing their first employer in the practice of dentistry.

INTERVIEWER: What is the one thing above all that will help a dental school graduate become the best dentist they can be in the shortest period of time?

Dr. Fink: Training, coaching, and exposure to the broadest array of procedures…it sounds like three things that I am listing but it is really one. It all falls under the category of mentoring. A new graduate that wants to become the best dentist they can be in the shortest time period will choose an employer that invests in making them better with every procedure they perform.

INTERVIEWER: What should a dental graduate look for to ensure they will receive the necessary mentoring with a new employer?

Dr. Fink: Any dental employer could potentially provide good mentoring. In reality, very few do so. At Dental Dreams, we are a family-owned dental practice. And even though we are national in scope, the training and daily coaching of our dentists remains extremely personalized.

In evaluating whether or not one will have access to the necessary mentoring, I believe the focus should be on how capable the employer is of personalizing the training and coaching for each individual dentist. One size fits all programs actually don’t fit anyone well. It has be personalized to work. Different dentists have different skills that come easier or harder to them. It’s a very individualized set of skills and requires personalized mentorship.

INTERVIEWER: What would “personalized mentorship” consist of?

Dr. Fink: I can speak to what we do at Dental Dreams where the entire focus of our mentoring program is to make the training each dentist receives and the on-going coaching provided as personalized as possible.

We start all newly hired dentists with a full day of training on our systems (things that are unique to Dental Dreams) such as our digital x-ray system and the software we use for our charting and we work through our training with them until each dentist has command of our technology. We also conduct extensive training on our protocols so that each individual is comfortable with what to do in any given situation. At Dental Dreams none of our dentists are functioning alone.

Most dentists are part of an office with two or more dentists and we make sure that our new dentists have experienced dentists available for any questions or concerns at all times. Additionally, in my role as VP of Clinical Support, I am available (along with our founder and company owner, Dr. Sameera Hussain) in real-time to all our dentists for consultation and advice. In addition to making myself available remotely to our dentists, I (and other outstanding senior dentists at Dental Dreams) regularly travel to each of our dental offices and meet with our dentists individually and provide on-site training on new technology or modalities, including hands-on demonstrations/training. Our dentists get an enormous amount of personalized attention. We believe it is what makes them the best they can be and we invest heavily in it.

INTERVIEWER: Aside from the personalized approach to training and coaching new dentists, how do you ensure that their skills are improving?

Dr. Fink: At Dental Dreams we have found it useful to employ a panel of independent dentists from outside our dental practice to perform monthly chart reviews for our company. It is a way to bring in outside, independent expertise and ensure that we are not only meeting but exceeding industry and medical standards in all that we do. So, in addition to the frequent communication and visits by our senior dentists and Dr. Hussain, Dental Dreams takes the feedback from our outside chart reviewers and shares the results with our dentists. The 360 degrees of available feedback helps us and our dentists to quickly recognize areas in which they can improve and tailor our training and coaching to their particular needs.

We believe that through this comprehensive mentoring program our dentists learn to design and own their treatment plans on a greatly expedited basis when compared to other dental practices. We’ve seen enormous success and improvement since implementing this system. It is perhaps the single-most valuable way in which we invest in our dentists and their future.

INTERVIEWER: What type of dental practice is most likely to be able to provide the personalized mentoring that you offer at Dental Dreams?

Dr. Fink: As I mentioned previously, in theory any dental office could provide great mentoring, but some have more incentive to do so than others. In my experience, by being family-owned and started by Dr. Hussain who remains our President and chief dental officer, our focus has always remained on the patient and the patient’s outcomes. Many other dental practices are corporate-owned and operated. They may make decisions based on pressure from investors and that might not result in the same level of funding for mentoring that we provide.

On the other end of the spectrum, the smaller single-office type of dental practice may lack the resources or bandwidth to provide the level of coaching and training that our mentoring program has. The success of our company is the result of being able to leverage the knowledge base of our best and most experienced dentists to quickly train and improve the skills of our new dentists. We really enjoy the mentoring process and that makes it fun and rewarding for all involved.

ABOUT DENTAL DREAMS: Founded in 2001 by Dr. Sameera Hussain, Dental Dreams is a dynamic, growing enterprise with offices in Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland,Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia,and Washington DC. Our mission is to provide the highest quality dental services in first-class facilities to people in under served communities. We have more than 300 dentists staffing our offices nationwide. Dental Dreams hires only the most qualified dentists who are committed to superior patient care.

About David Wolle: David Wolle is the Chief Operating Officer of KOS SERVICES LLC, the Chicago based management company responsible for the administrative functions of Dental Dreams LLC.The KOS team manages HR, recruiting, accounting and marketing for 70 offices across 10 states and DC..Originally from Toronto, Canada, David completed his BA and MBA at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto and has been working in dental practice management since moving to the US in 2004. He currently lives in the suburbs outside Chicago with his wife Jacqueline and three kids,
Henry, Sophie and Isabel.