Delegating can increase production and bring more enjoyment and freedom day to day in your orthodontic practice. So, here’s how you start.

By Roger P. Levin, DDS

Orthodontist, like all business executives, struggle with maximizing the use of their time. This is not a new challenge. The responsibilities of the orthodontist have expanded. Orthodontists are always, first and foremost, focused on clinical excellence AND they also run the practice as a business. One way to overcome this challenge and increase practice production without adding more to the orthodontist’s plate is to focus on effective delegation in the orthodontic practice.

It all starts with delegation. If you want to re-capture your enjoyment of orthodontic practice, freedom to have more time during the day and even outside of the practice then delegation is your fastest route. But how do you decide what to delegate?

Start with state regulations

The easiest way to decide what to delegate is to look at the state regulations for each staff position. Ultimately, you would like the staff member, whether front desk or clinical, to handle every task that they are legally allowed to handle. You don’t want to attack this as an overnight “tsunami of change,” but to identify the possibilities of delegation, place them in priority order and start working with team members to increase their responsibilities.

The front desk

Let’s start at the front desk. There’s very little that a front desk person does that must be done by the orthodontist. In fact, there’s almost nothing. You want all administrative activities of your orthodontic practice to be handled by your front desk. If you are fortunate enough to have a highly skilled office manager with management background and experience, then this person should oversee 100% of all the administrative activities of the practice and orthodontist should not need to be involved. The role of the orthodontist in this scenario is simply to review periodic reports, hold meetings with the office manager and team members, practice orthodontics, and be a great leader.

The clinical team

The clinical team is a little bit different. There are regulations and certain actions that only orthodontists can take. The idea is to gradually transition to a scenario where those regulated actions are all the orthodontists does. Just imagine walking into your office in the morning, attending the morning meeting, being told by assistants throughout the day exactly which chair or consult room to go to next, being kept on time by the clinical staff and only doing what an orthodontist is required to do, and still achieving excellent clinical results.

How to start delegating

How should you start delegating tasks you currently do, but aren’t required to?

According to Jim Loehr, a leading sports psychologist and expert on human performance, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to take on everything at once. An excellent analogy of how not to delegate is the individual that has a New Year’s resolution of joining a gym, working out 6 days a week, eating perfectly, losing 35 pounds, sleeping 7 hours a night and meditating twice a day to avoid stress.  This person is almost doomed to failure. “All at once” is a formula for failure.

When it comes to delegation, it is no different. We have met doctors that became inspired to delegate and delegated too much all at once. The results were dismal. Instead identify all the actions that you could delegate to your team and then start with one per person. A great leader will clearly explain why delegation is happening and what is to be done. A great leader also makes it clear that he or she is open to questions along the way.

The benefits of delegating tasks

Delegation will create higher production, more enjoyment and freedom, both in the practice and outside. This is the great opportunity to change your practice while inspiring and motivating team members to take on more responsibility. An excellent place to begin is looking at the state regulations for what team members are and are not allowed to do and then making a commitment to gradually delegate all activities that are legally allowed for staff member performance, and to ensure the team members have the training and understanding to complete each task. OP

Roger Levin

Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on orthodontic practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the United States and around the world. To contact Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Ortho Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit or email [email protected]