Extern Site Spotlight – Jefferson Dental Clinics
Jefferson Dental Clinics (JDC) is a premier provider of dental services in Texas, and a valued partner of our Carrington College Mesquite campus. Established in 1967, with 41 dental centers in Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston, Jefferson Dental offers a full range of general dental and orthodontic services.
Erica Harrison, Corporate Recruiter for Jefferson Dental Clinics, was kind enough to spend time with us, offering insight into the recruitment process and how externships are positive for students and JDC.
The relationship with Carrington started a couple of years ago, when Erica’s predecessor began looking for local schools that Jefferson Dental could partner with.
“I started in February this year, so it was Shenique Sparks, our Recruiting Manager, who reached out to local schools initially. We’d never brought in externs before; previously we did our hiring only by making the regular submissions to local media, mainly using newspapers, internet and referrals from other employees. Once Ms. Sparks began building relationships with area schools, Carrington became one of our partners.”
Each Jefferson Dental location is staffed with a friendly, professional team dedicated to providing high levels of customer service; they strive to make patients feel cared for, comfortable and at home. But there is one particular skill required that hopeful externs won’t be able to learn at Carrington College.
“The majority of our patients are Hispanic; we are the number one provider in the area for the Hispanic and ethnically diverse community. That’s one of the reasons why we require all our associates, including externs, to be bilingual. They have to be able to effectively communicate with our patients in Spanish; being bilingual is a definite advantage in the medical and dental field here in the state of Texas.”
Partnerships with companies like Jefferson Dental are incredibly valuable to Carrington because they offer such great opportunities for our students, and in the case of JDC, not just in dental assisting.
“We take Medical Assisting and Medical Billing & Coding students too. We hire medical assistants for front desk positions. They contact patients, verify insurance benefits, and discuss treatment plans. They’re the first people our patients see when they walk through the door; as the first point of contact they’re very valuable to us.
We also take students as applicants for our Insurance & Billing Department, which is located in our corporate office in North Dallas where I’m located. If we have positions available then I definitely reach out to Carrington and the other resources we have to find suitable billing & coding employees.”
Erica ensures that the recruitment experience for the externship is also a learning experience. The process starts when Erica lets the campus know when she’s looking for externs at a particular location.
“They will send over resumes, letting me know which students are close to graduation and are ready for their externship. I typically take them through the entire interview process, so they’re getting a dose of what it’s going to be like when they go into the real world to start their career. I’ll start by interviewing them over the phone, then we take them through a management interview and, if they’re selected, we bring them to an orientation.”
According to Erica, the most important things that students learn in their time at JDC are accountability and responsibility, and of course, what it’s like to work in a fast-paced, patient-focused environment. So in that initial phone conversation, Erica is looking to hear several things…
“They need to be able to tell me why they’re qualified; I want to know their characteristics and what’s made them the person they are. What gave them the passion to be in the dental or medical field? I’m looking for them to tell me about previous positions and responsibilities they’ve had. Of course, a lot of students go straight from high school into the Carrington program, some of them haven’t worked – so I’m looking for them to tell me about any responsibilities they had during high school.
If you were a babysitter, I’m looking to hear that. If you were a straight ‘A’ student with parents who didn’t allow you to work because they wanted you to focus on school, I’m looking to hear that. I want to hear about the positive things you’ve gone through that have put you where you are today. All of that sticks out for me. Resume design – we can tell if a person took their time to complete it properly and line it all up neatly – that alone tells me a lot about the type of person they’ll be in the clinic.”
Students who do their externship at a Jefferson Dental Clinic location certainly get a lot out of the experience.
“We’re giving them an opportunity to learn how we conduct business at Jefferson Dental Clinics; they’re basically getting a sneak peak. We treat them just like employees, and we expect them to act as an actual employee when they’re in our clinics.
We evaluate them half way through their extern hours to let them know how they’re doing and if they are performing at the high level we expect of our JDC employees. If they’re not quite there yet, we let them know what they need to do to get to that level. It’s really like a working interview. We’re giving them an extra push to be able to work with us after graduation.
We place at least 85% of the Carrington candidates sent to us for externship positions; we try to give them an opportunity at a great career. Those we don’t place as an extern may be the ones who decided to go another route in their career.”
So it seems that the Carrington externship program is a vital recruitment tool. For JDC it’s an enhanced way to recruit talent, compared to the more traditional routes of newspaper or internet advertising.
“We never look at a candidate as “just an extern”. We always try to train and prepare them for the field that they’ve chosen, to see if they exude the confidence and can maintain the performance that we look for. If they do, then we definitely look at them as a future star for Jefferson Dental Clinics. I would say that we go on to employ about 90% of the Carrington students who complete their externship with us.”
There are certain things that Erica looks for in stand-out candidates – they have to show maturity, they have to demonstrate professionalism and self-respect, and they have to have passion and a strong desire.
“They have to want it. That’s one of the facts that we let them know during the orientation class. We tell them that you’ve taken your time and spent your money to go into a field that you obviously have passion for, but you have to demonstrate that you really want the position.
We have a career ladder that we follow; students can go from an externship, to being a dental assistant, to performing really well, doing an outstanding job and one day becoming a clinic coordinator or a clinic manager – those positions will be available to them if they want it enough. We also reimburse employees who receive their additional certifications; they get an additional pay increase as well. So if they prove that they want it, the opportunities for success are here.”
As an experienced corporate recruiter, Erica knows that students who come to Jefferson Dental Clinics are among the lucky ones. And for JDC, the business gets potential employees who come to Jefferson Dental Clinic with the training and experience they are looking for in an applicant.
“I tell students all the time that you’re in a very good place to be able to go from school to a job, starting your career based off a relationship that we’ve built with Carrington. The majority of people in the “real world” have to do an actual job hunt, they have to build their resume on their own, and they have to market themselves, go to the job fairs.
Thanks to our relationship with Carrington, I can work closely with the Advisors, communicating on what style of learning the student has, where they would be most comfortable, trying to put them at a clinic location that is close to their home. Because they’re starting a new life, being able to make it as convenient and stress-free as possible is important for their success and ours.”
For comprehensive consumer information on our programs, visit carrington.edu
Program availability varies by location.