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Episode 207: Guiding Your Associate to Success

“It’s OK to be a mentor to an associate because this is your job, this is your practice, and these are your patients.” ~Dr. Bruce B. Baird

Have you ever brought an associate into your practice only to find they weren’t meeting your expectations? Maybe their root canals weren’t up to par, or their crown preps were causing issues. It’s a common dilemma, but one that can be avoided with the right approach.

In this episode, we’ll explore the ideal way to bring an associate into your practice, ensuring they understand it’s not just about production, but about delivering exceptional patient care from day one. I’ll share insights on building a strong mentorship relationship, understanding your associate’s goals, and fostering an environment of growth and learning.

Whether your associate is fresh out of school or has years of experience, there’s always room for improvement and collaboration. I’ll discuss the importance of communication, providing constructive feedback, and setting expectations for excellence in dentistry. Join me as we dive into the world of mentorship and dental excellence – and don’t forget to send me your questions and feedback at

As you listen to this episode, ask yourself the following:

  • Am I providing the necessary support and guidance to help my associates grow professionally?
  • How can I effectively communicate my expectations for patient care and professional development?
  • How can I ensure that my associates understand the importance of striving for excellence in their work?
  • What can I do to better foster a supportive environment that encourages ongoing learning and development for my team?


Regan Robertson 0:00
Hi, Doctor. Regan Robertson, CCO of Productive Dentist Academy here and I have a question for you. Are you finding it hard to get your team aligned to your vision, but you know, you deserve growth just like everybody else? That’s why we’ve created the PDA productivity workshop. For nearly 20 years, PDA workshops have helped dentists just like you align their teams, get control of scheduling, and create productive practices that they love walking into every day. Just imagine how you will feel when you know your schedule is productive, your systems are humming, and your team is aligned to your vision. It’s simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. We can help, visit that’s to secure your seats now.

Dr Bruce Baird 0:47
And if you’re going to work in my practice on, I’m going to say our patients, I want to make sure that you’re doing things at the highest level you can possibly do it and I’m here to help you.

Dr. Bruce Baird 1:04
Hello, everyone. This is Dr. Bruce B. Baird and you’re listening to the Productive Dentist Podcast. In this podcast, I will give you everything that I’ve learned over the last 40 years in dentistry working with 1000s of dentists I’ll tell you it’s not that my way is the only way it’s just one that has worked extremely well for me and and I’d love to share that with you. So you too can enjoy the choices and lifestyle the productivity allows, more time for things you love, increased pay, better team relationships, and lowered stress. Let’s get into it with this week’s episode of the Productive Dentist Podcast.

Dr. Bruce Baird 1:48
My name is Dr. Bruce Baird with the Productive Dentist Podcast. Welcome, today I wanted to talk a bit about associates and what, you know, kind of what is the ideal way to bring an associate into your practice and to keep an eye on him be a mentor, and help them become the best dentists they can be. I’m always listening online or watching or looking at the threads and everybody is always talking about their associates was doing X, Y or Z, they, they weren’t, you know, they weren’t doing their root canals properly. They weren’t, you know, their crown preps had problems and what’s important to understand is, you know, when you’re bringing an associate into your business, I mean, it’s it’s extremely important. This is not about production, it’s about taking phenomenal care of our patients and that needs to be communicated, you know, day one, when you’re bringing an associate in, not, you know, and a lot of dentists and I’ve been guilty of this in the past is you just bring a dentist in kind of like bringing in a dental assistant or a front desk and, “Oh, well your front desk, well just go have fun, you know, do your job,” and that’s really not fair to anybody. It’s not fair to your chairside assistants, it’s not fair to your front desk and it’s certainly not fair when you’re bringing an associate into your world, because it is your world. And so from my perspective, the first thing that that that I have done with my Associates is just like I’m talking about doing an exam on a patient, I want to find out about the associate, I want to find out about the Doctor, I want to find out about his family, where he comes from, what are his goals, what are his thoughts, and from the get go, I want him or her to understand that I’m here as a sounding board for you. I’m here as a fellow professional and it’s my responsibility to mentor you and I My goal is to help you become the best dentist you can be.

Dr. Bruce Baird 4:16
That’s very different than, “Yep, you got to this is what you’re gonna get paid 30% 40 Whatever it is, and just going down the line.” It’s not really about that. If you can help your associate, and what do we do? Do we go in and look over their shoulder while they’re prepping teeth? Maybe, you know, just say, “Hey, I want to I want to I want to observe I’m really excited having you here in the office. I’m not looking over your shoulder so I can make corrections to every single thing you do, that’s not why I’m here but in building a relationship and remember relationships and agreed upon a course of action between two parties and if you’re going to work in my practice on I’m going to say our patients, I want to make sure that you’re doing things at the highest level, you can possibly do it and I’m here to help you.” Now, when you’re bringing in an associate that, let’s say, has been practicing dentistry for 25 years, it really doesn’t change. I mean, I’ve seen dentists that have been out 25 years doing things that I probably wouldn’t do and I’ve seen young dentists come in and become massively productive, right off the bat doing amazing dentistry. Remember, this is your practice and your business and so when I bring an associate in, I want to be able to spend time again. When I ask a patient, “How long have you lived here?” or, you know, “Where’d you grow up?”, all of the things that I’m trying to link with this associate with this doctor and it’s super important. I mean, a good friend of mine told told me years ago, “You really want to find associates who’ve been beaten up before, so that when they come to your practice, they think, “Oh, my gosh, this is so much better,”” and yeah, that’s true.

Dr. Bruce Baird 6:05
I mean, there’s no question it’s true but I think from a preference standpoint, if I had an associate come in, that really wanted to learn, I mean, really, from the get go, “Gosh, I really want to learn the things you’re doing, I want to,” and they have a great attitude, they have great bedside manner, if you will, or bed chair manner, they are good communicator, I can teach them, you know, I can teach them dentistry and how to do it. I’m not going to say more efficiently, although I’m going to teach them how to schedule properly, I’m going to teach them what to look for, I’m going to teach them, these are the trackers that you want to know, because it’s going to help you in the long run, it’s going to keep you excited about dentistry and I always feel like my goal is when I have another doctor and have always worked with other docs. It’s, it is, you know, I want to have fun, and I want to take great care of our patients and I want somebody that feels the same way and so I’ve gotten rid of Associates is just sat back in the office didn’t do anything, never took any CE. I should have found out those things before I hired him. You know, he would rather read a book in the in the doctor’s office than to actually go to dentistry and I think, I think those are things that it’s okay to be the mentor to an associate, because this is your job, this is your practice, these are your patients that are coming in and ideally, you’re wanting to grow your business and that new associate I like associates to live in the town where you know where the practice is. I don’t make a requirement on religious gatherings are anything but man, I love it when they go to church in town, they get to meet people, I like guys who like to play golf guys and gals who like to play golf and meet people there. I like people who really want to get involved in the community, I’m not looking for just somebody who knows how to drill on a tooth. I hope that makes sense because it goes way beyond that. The biggest problems that I’ve seen with having an associate in the practice, is there are some doctors that have amazing egos. They, they are like you know, “I’m a doctor, I you know, I know how to do this and I don’t need your help,” well, then I don’t need you in my office because what I’m doing is I’m sharing my 30 years, 40 years of experience, or 10 years, if you’re been only practicing 10 years, you’ve learned a lot in 10 years, whereas that person either coming right out of school, or that’s been burned by some associate position previously, you know, they have a lot to learn and they have you know, first always comes communication with patients and then what will I do?

Dr. Bruce Baird 9:09
Well, I go back and look at their X rays on their preps and their post segmentation X rays.? Yeah, I will, I don’t mind and if I see something wrong, I bring it up right away. Why? Well, those are called Crucial Conversations and if you haven’t read that book, it’s very, very important victory because life is about Crucial Conversations life is about when things aren’t going the way you want it to go. To attack that right then to bring it up and if you see something, say, “Hey, I noticed this margin see there,” and that the doctor may be defensive and say, “Oh, gosh, you know, I didn’t see that, you know, whatever,” and I said, “Well, I’m certainly you didn’t because I’ve had X rays come through hygiene in the past that had an open margin.” I went to who did this gonna go, “It was me. Crap. I’m gonna go fix it.” Why? Because ultimately, we want to take great care of our patients and ultimately, we want to do the best dentistry we can possibly do. Remember, there is no such thing as perfection in dentistry but excellence is something that we all strive for and if you, if you skip the steps to excellence, then you don’t get there and then you’re having to go back and redo work that was done. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read on their own, we had to go back and redo hundreds of, of crowns and fillings that an associate did in my practice will pull your head out of your butt and go look and see what they’re doing. They’re working on some of your patients. So you know, the whining just doesn’t work here. The whining about having someone in your office, it’s like you whining about your front desk, like you whining about your chairside assistants. Bottom line is that’s your problem and so when I when I look at things, can I help this doc? Can I be a mentor? And do it in a loving way that just says, “Hey, I’ve been there?” You know, because we all have, we’ve all been there, none of us started out until we got the reps to we got everything going? Yeah, we you know, it is what it is. That’s why I don’t mind a dentist that’s been practicing for two or three or four years and maybe that has been beat up. But also I want to see what kind of dentistry are they doing? You know, what do they like doing? What do they enjoy, you may find that, “Gosh, I love doing Invisalign. I love that aspect.” Great, I’m going to be you’re going to be our Invisalign guy but I’m going to follow your, your, your workups and I’m going to look at the cases that you’re choosing and I’m going to say, “Oh, these are great cases,” and you know what, I’m probably going to learn about Invisalign from you as you get better and better and better.

Dr. Bruce Baird 11:45
So, so these are the things that whether it’s crown and bridge, whether it’s placing an implant, my nephew graduated this past year and he is actually, he’s been very involved in CE when he was in dental school, and when he got out, and I’ll be darned if he’s not placing implants, if he’s not producing 1200 an hour, which is three times the national average and I’m getting a chance and I’m asking him and kind of his mentor from afar, but I’m saying, “Send me the X ray, send me some photos, send me some pictures.” The work is beautiful and I love seeing that. Now, if he says, “Well, why, why do you want to see the pictures?” Well, you know, for me, it would be, “I don’t know, I’m just trying to help you do and I, that’s it, I’m just, just want to help,” and so the person with an ego that doesn’t want people to look and that’s also kind of a problem. That’s one of those things where, gosh, I don’t know how I want to work with my friends, I want to treat my friends. And if somebody has a problem with something with me, I may okay with him comes in, “Hey, Bruce, you know, you’re sticking your head in the room, you know, nine times a day, I’d really, you know, hey, I’m more than happy to show you the X rays and everything else and more than likely, I didn’t realize I was doing that ut again, I want our patients to be taken care of at the highest level possible.” So anyway, I just there’s so much information out there about my associate did this, my associates did that? Well, if they’re right out of school are very young. Well, they’re still in school, as far as I’m concerned and it’s my job to help them and to be 100, a mentor and instructor for him in a in a caring loving way and also in a way that allows them to be massively productive, great for the office, great for their home life and great for their, their bank account and so I point those things out because you just see so many complaints out there, but whose fault is it? Well, this is one of those words our fault. Can’t whine about other people when you’re the one that’s hired him. So anyway, I hope this makes make some sense. I hope, I hope you guys get something from it. Please send me questions about this because it’ll stimulate conversation, to I’m more than happy. In fact, some of our podcasts are totally around questions that are that are sent to me. Thank you again for voting us the number one dental podcast in dentistry and I look forward to next time. So thanks so much.

Dr. Bruce Baird
Thank you for joining me for this episode of the Productive Dentist Podcast. If you found this episode helpful, make sure you subscribe, pass it along to a friend. Give us a like on iTunes and Spotify or drop me an email at Don’t forget to check out other podcasts from the Productive Dentist Academy of Join me again next week for another episode of the Productive Dentist Podcast.

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