Recruiting New Dentists in Iowa:  A guide for your community to be successful

Chapter 3: Preparing for Community Recruitment

A unified community recruitment effort with the community and dentists preparing together is the ideal. The following sections outline what should be done in preparation for active recruitment efforts. If the dentist(s) in the community chooses not to participate, the community can proceed with recruitment based on the needs assessment results and skip the practice appraisal section.

Practice Appraisal

For dentists, a business appraisal of the practice by a qualified broker or assessment company is necessary before having a new dentist join the practice or purchase it. Additionally, these are some of the questions a dentist needs to answer before recruitment:

  • How many active patients do you have?
  • Are you taking new patients?
    • If yes, how many new patients are you seeing a month?
    • If no, how many new patient inquiries are you receiving a month?
  • How will a new dentist be brought into the practice?
    • Given all new patients?
    • Transfer of some existing patients?
    • Will need to generate own patient base?
  • How many hours will the practicing and new dentist work?
  • Can the physical space accommodate a new dentist?
  • What physical assets do you have? (building, age, value)
  • Are you willing to mentor a new dentist?
  • Are you ready to cut back on practicing or retiring?
  • Do you have a transition plan? Does it have a timeline?
  • What are you willing to do to aid in the recruitment effort?
  • What do you want?

Community Profile

The task force should complete a community profile, a tool used to inform a potential provider of the need and opportunities in a community. A community profile should include a short summary of the community dental assets and needs assessment as well as community attributes that can impact the viability of a dental practice including demographics, distance to neighboring population centers, major employers and schools. Community demographic profiles can be found on the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Indicators Portal (http://indicators.extension.iastate.edu/).

In addition to a community profile, a recruitment and relocation packet with information highlighting the assets in the community can be helpful in sharing why your community is a great place to live and work. Ask your local Chamber of Commerce or economic development group if they have materials that can be used for this purpose. The local hospital and major employers may also be resources for what to include in this packet.

Addressing Community Challenges

Every community has negative aspects that it would like to forget. It is better to be prepared to address issues students and graduates learn about your community prior to their arrival. The best thing that a task force can do is to be honest about them and address any challenges your community may be facing. As a group, discuss and create a list of challenges in the community that you believe should be addressed.

Understand the community demographics and what the statistics really represent. Knowing what created the negative situations can help in how to present it to a potential new dentist.

It is also important to share how community problems are being addressed. If there are steps being taken to address a problem or if progress is being made, share that. While doing this, discuss ways a new professional can play a role in community improvement and strengthening.

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