Help…My Dental Assistant Wants More Money!

By: Ronda Holman

Hi dear reader, my name is Ronda Holman and I have been sitting across from a dentist for a living for the last 25 years.

I thought it might be time to make some written confessions as to what I have been guilty of over the years and how my dentist was able to effectively mold me into their dream dental assistant. 

My Mindset When Asking for a Pay Raise

Once upon a time, I asked for a pay raise. I thought I was owed more money for my time served.

You see, dear reader, I was under the mindset that the longer I worked for a dentist the more I should earn. This mindset included that I didn’t need to bring more value to the practice to earn higher wages.

Imagine my surprise when my dentist sat me down and asked one simple question in response to my request for a pay raise;

“Why should I pay you more?”

Well, let’s just say that threw me for a loop. Of course, my first response was;

“I’ve been here for over a year and I assumed that entitled me to more money.”

You know what happens when you assume right? Well, that wasn’t the response my dentist was looking for.

How My Dentist Helped Change My Mindset

My dentist then asked me his question again;

“Why should I pay you more?”

I didn’t have an answer so he told me to take the weekend to think about it and to come back on Monday morning with a list of reasons I was entitled to more money as a dental assistant in his practice.

Make a List of Why You Deserve a Pay Raise

When I sat down and put my pen to paper, I realized several things, including, that I had no idea how much running a dental practice costs to operate including payroll.

Then I got to thinking what have I personally done to help my dentist bring in more money to allocate to me? I thought how many new patients does the practice have as a direct result of my efforts?

  • I did hand out three business cards at the baseball field last season and all three of those parents became active patients.
  • I also educated a patient on the esthetic benefits of whitening their teeth before a large cosmetic procedure, that patient bought a whitening package.
  • I recalled the time I found a two-for-one deal on a bonding agent, I told my doctor about it and was able to save him money with inventory costs.

The list went on for a while with some big actions and some small ones that moved the profit needle. 

Realization Hit

When I was finished making my list I understood why my doctor asked the question;

“Why should I pay you more?”

It was because he wanted me to realize that I could impact the bottom line of the practice profit.

Just to be clear – most dental assistants don’t believe they can impact the bottom line of the practice profit because they’re not considered providers.

In Conclusion

I do hope this article can find the assistant who is struggling with how to ask for a pay raise or even a dentist who currently is being asked for more money by their DA that needs to be earned. 

In case you’re wondering, I got the raise.

Every time I ask for more wages since that day, I developed the drive to continue earning them with my actions over longevity.

Now I will end this with one of my favorite quotes…

“Show me the money.”

Keep Reading: Help…My Dental Assistant Won’t Learn New Things!

Photo by Ivan Samkov

Ronda Holman

Ronda Holman

Ronda Holman found her passion for dental assisting while in the Air Force. She assisted in oral surgery, general dentistry, and ended her four-year service as a prophy tech, the military’s version of a dental hygienist. She married and spent 13 years traveling the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Each time Ronda relocated she got the opportunity to work in a new dental office, where she picked up pearls that have helped her become an expert in educating dental assistants. Her interests are immediate denture/partial fabrication, CEREC technology, patient education, and striving for optimal chairside skills. Ronda believes that every dental assistant has the potential to be a rock star assistant if given the right tools and guidance.