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Job Descriptions: Best Practices & Sample Templates

June 23, 2022 11708
A small business affords its employees the opportunity to “do it all.” Gaining diversified experience and developing an impressive résumé are advantages of working in small offices. Yet, the small business employer should not let the employee’s status be completely undefined or all-encompassing.

Developing a job description for every position outlining required qualifications, duties, regular and predictable attendance and physical requirements for every employee benefit both the employer and employee.
To get you started, utilize the following job description templates for positions found in your dental practice. You can customize for your specific needs.

Best Practices

  • Job descriptions should be reviewed and updated prior to each new hire. When evaluating a job description for a new position, consider your current employees, how roles have changed and if duties are better suited for other positions.  Use the job description to develop your interview questions.
  • In the “job requirements” section of the job description, be specific about expectations and ask if the employee can meet them. For example, “This position may require working beyond 5 p.m. Would you be able to meet that requirement?” or “Will you be able to perform the essential job duties listed with or without accommodation?” (i.e., Can a chairside assistant’s brace for carpal tunnel syndrome be accommodated to meet sterilization requirements?)  
  • A well written job description clarifies who is responsible for each task in the practice and can guide initial training and the expected outcomes of that training.
  • When grievances or conflicts arise, a clear job description, detailing responsibilities of the role, can improve communication and foster a more harmonious relationship..
  • Without a job description, the requirements of a job can be ambiguous and open to debate by employer, employee, attorneys, doctors and government regulators. A well-written job description details the fundamental physical and mental requirements of a job. Many misconceptions occur at the time of hiring when expectations are formed in prospective employees’ minds.
  • Include a notation that other work may be assigned as necessary for the operation of the office. State that the practice reserves the right at any time, with or without notice, to alter or change job responsibilities, reassign or transfer job positions or assign additional job responsibilities.  
  • Employees benefit from knowing what is expected of them. Performance reviews are more meaningful for the employer and the employee when guided by the roles and responsibilites outlined in the job description. 

Other considerations


Federal law requires a HIPAA covered entity to implement policies and procedures to ensure only authorized individuals use and disclose protected health information (PHI) that is necessary to carry out their job responsibilities. An employer required to comply with HIPAA must determine by job category or by individual whether access is permitted to clinical PHI, to financial and insurance PHI or to all PHI. An employer should include PHI access level on job descriptions or create a separate document that lists job categories or individuals with access level to PHI. For example, an office manager may need access to all PHI to perform her job functions and a dental assistant may only need access to clinical PHI to perform her job functions.

Reasonable Accommodation

Job descriptions allow employers to effectively manage a claim for disability (leave of absence or reasonable accommodation) or workers’ compensation. When an employee returns to work from disability leave (work related or not) a physician must determine whether that employee is physically capable to return to the job. Sending the physician the employee’s written job description that includes the essential functions and physical requirements of the job is the best way to determine whether the employee can perform the duties described with or without limitation, with or without accommodation and for what period. With job descriptions that detail the physical and mental requirements of a position, you can defend decisions regarding accommodation or termination.

  • Essential duties: Describe what is to be accomplished in terms of guidelines instead of specifying the method of performing duties. For example, describe a task as “communicating information,” instead of “writing information on a notepad.” Workers with disabilities may perform certain jobs in a unique manner, such as typing or audio-recording information, if writing is a problem.
  • Mental function: List all elements that might be required, such as cataloging and calculating, so you can determine what abilities are required. For instance, if a job requires visual inspection, the ability to see is required.
  • Physical functions: Break down each task into physical elements such as lifting, carrying, bending, and twisting.
  • Methods: List the factors necessary to accomplish the essential duties of the job, e.g., the extent of twisting or reaching involved, the amount of interaction with co-workers or the amount of manual dexterity required.  
  • Output: Estimate how many times a day physical tasks are performed and how much stamina is required.
  • Working conditions: Include factors such as noise levels, gases, fumes or hazardous materials, and space restrictions.
  • Equipment, tools, materials: Will slight adjustments mean that the individual with the disability will be able to perform the job effectively? 


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