Staff retention is of paramount importance to the smooth operation of a safety net dental clinic. Staff turnover decreases productivity and services during times of vacancies and increases costs and time spent on recruitment and orientation of new staff.
The best way to retain existing staff is to ensure that their employment experience satisfies as many of their professional and personal needs as possible. This includes offering a competitive salary and benefits package, a pleasant working environment, supportive and well-trained supervisors, opportunities for professional growth and interaction, continuing education, adequate vacation time, a retirement pension, flexibility for child care, and other desirable elements.
When establishing the clinic’s scope of services, remember to consider the professional development needs and satisfaction of staff as well as the needs of the community. For example, many general dentists do not enjoy providing a limited scope of basic diagnostic and restorative services without the opportunity to provide more complex procedures.
The scope of work needs to be challenging and professionally satisfying to retain an employee for the long term. Creating a work environment where quality patient care is paramount will enhance professional satisfaction. Clinics where financial goals seem to drive the provision of care will have problems recruiting and retaining staff.