Working as a Temp: What You Need to Know Before Your First Temporary Dental Job

Have you ever wished for a dental job with a more flexible schedule? Maybe you’re tired of the usual 9-to-5 or want to gain new experience and explore different kinds of dental practices. Perhaps you’re looking to take on additional work for added income and want to find a temp job that fits your lifestyle.

All of these are great reasons to explore opportunities in temporary dental work. Whether you’re new to the dental field or a seasoned pro, temporary work can be an exciting experience for professionals who appreciate diversity and enjoy the variety and change temp work offers.

However, temporary work isn’t without its challenges. From unpredictable hours to learning the operations of a new office, working as temporary dental staff has its downsides and won’t be a good fit for everyone. In order to set yourself up for success, let’s look at a few important things you should know before taking your first temporary dental job.


1. Know Your Rights

Before committing to working as a temp, it’s important to know your rights and understand the state and federal laws that govern how you can practice. The U.S Department of Labor has classified temporary workers as employees in all but a few distinct circumstances.

However, a common complaint raised by temporary dental workers is that they are often treated as contractors rather than employees by some referral staffing agencies and dental offices. This classification shifts the tax burden onto the temp, and, should the worst happen, you won’t be eligible for unemployment or workers’ compensation as a contractor.

Our staffing agency, on the other hand, hires temporary workers as employees and pays the necessary federal and state taxes required, as well as issues a W-2. Temporary employees are then placed in offices where they agree to work for certain periods of time. This employment arrangement complies with federal and state laws and helps ensure temporary staff are treated fairly. If you’re interested in pursuing temporary dental work, either full or part-time, be sure your employment agreement aligns with applicable laws and works to your benefit.


2. Prepare for the Unexpected

Working as a dental temp can be exciting and offers lots of opportunities and experience in various dental settings. However, along with this variety comes some uncertainty. Dental practices operate in different ways, use diverse systems, and have their own expectations when it comes to temporary staff. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is helpful to be prepared and know a bit about how your new practice operates before your first day.

Once you’ve received a temporary assignment, consider reaching out to the office manager or dentist prior to your start date. Confirm the address, when you need to arrive, what hours you’re expected to work and any other questions you might have. If you’re working with a dental staffing agency, they’ll also be able to help you prepare for your first day. A good staffing agency will have resources that ensure you’re ready to get started, and they should be able to answer any of your questions about hours and pay rates.

When you arrive on your first day, try to pay attention to the office flow and watch how the office operates. How does the dentist prefer to work? Do staff chat extensively with patients or are appointments kept short and scheduled back to back? When problems or issues arise, how are they handled and by whom? These kinds of details can be important clues to understanding a practice and will allow you to integrate quickly into office operations while providing quality dental care to your new patients.

Of course, it’s impossible to prepare for every scenario and situation you may encounter, so if something unexpected does come up, don’t be afraid to ask for help. A new office won’t expect you to know your way around and most are happy to help temporary staff learn the ropes.


3. Leave a Good Impression

While working as temporary dental staff offers excitement and the chance to break out of everyday routines, the tradeoff can be felt when it comes to building relationships with staff and patients. Unlike conventional dental employment, temporary work can vary greatly in frequency. A practice may require you to fill in for several weeks at a time or only every now and again when a full-time staff member is out sick.

If the temporary work is especially infrequent, it can feel like you’re constantly starting over and you might not be able to connect with patients and other staff in the ways you’re used to. If this becomes a challenge, talk to your staffing agency and consider looking for long-term temporary work or temp-to-hire positions that offer the flexibility and consistency you desire.

Despite the irregularities of temporary work, you can still establish a good rapport with the dental practice you’re assigned to. Much like the relationship you might build with regular patients, you can develop a good working relationship with a dental office by helping wherever necessary and going above and beyond to learn how the office want tasks to be done. Maybe you help set up or break down rooms and instruments or step up to assist when the dentist is running behind.

Whatever the case, make sure patients always have a good experience, and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from other staff. These qualities will help you stand out and be remembered. With a good attitude and willingness to work hard, you’ll leave a lasting impression and increase the likelihood you’ll get called back the next time the practice needs a temp.


To Temp or Not to Temp

Temporary dental work can be a great experience for the right person. Changing offices regularly can help you learn new dental techniques, gain exposure to a variety of patient populations, and improve your clinical and communication skills in different dental environments.

Yet, for all the advantages of temporary work, there are also disadvantages. From disorganized offices to dealing with poor equipment, high expectations, and inconsistent hours, working as temporary dental staff can be draining. Ultimately, it’s important to know yourself and how you prefer to work in order to build a successful dental career.


If you think you have what it takes to work as a dental temp, we’d love to hear from you. Search our open jobs or contact us today to get started!

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