“Help Me To Grow Our Practice…Please!”
Dear Dr. Bill:
I love being a dental assistant, especially since my doctor bought the Omnicam and Galileos! I love assisting when she does crowns/bridges and places implants and restores them. But I want to do more! My problem is that I feel like I can offer so much more that could benefit the practice but she wants to control every aspect of the procedures. I’ve been trained but why won’t she allow me to do more and grow personally?
I hear you! The digital workflow works best when all members of the team are trained, involved, and trusted. As discussed in my previous articles, many dentists are not only obsessive-compulsive, which can be a good thing when used with balance and reason, but are controlling to the detriment of the practice. Delegation of clinical duties to dental assistants and dental hygienists is very hard for some dentists. Why? I would suggest that the inability to delegate has more to do with the dentist’s insecurities than the employee, resulting in the dentist being overworked and the staff underutilized. Dental assistants, I feel strongly, don’t wake up every morning and think, “Oh boy, I can’t wait to get to work and suction spit and blood!” I suspect that is not what motivates a dental assistant but instead they want a fulfilling work experience just as the dentist.
In recent issues of Dental Assisting Digest, 367 dental assistants were asked what they considered to be the best and worst parts of their job. The top four results in each category revealed:
What do you consider to be the best part about your job?
Interpersonal contact with patients ………… 24.3% (87 people)
Improving the health of patients ……. ……. 20.4% (73 people)
Personal pride in your career ……………… 19.3% (69 people)
Variety of tasks during the day ……………… 14.5% (52 people)
What do you consider to be the worst part about your job?
Salary and benefits ………………………… 19.2% (65 people)
Lack of room to grow in your profession …. 18.3% (62 people)
Perceived lack of respect ………………….. 15.7% (53 people)
Politics within the practice ………………… 15.7% (53 people)
This survey suggests that dental assistants love dentistry and their patients, enjoy doing different tasks and take pride in their profession. This information is a golden opportunity for the dentist to capitalize and invest time and education in their dental assistant and then let them do the task!
In a November 16, 2015 article in www.dentistryiq.com entitled, “Become a Better Boss: Master the Art of Delegation”, the following 8 suggestions were made to maximize your managerial delegation effectiveness as dentists:
8 Ways to Maximize Your Managerial Delegation Effectiveness
- Clearly define what can and cannot be delegated (Check your State Dental Board for clarification of allowed and disallowed procedures by dental assistants/hygienists)
- Create a prioritized delegation plan
- Provide clear instructions and define specific expectations
- Provide a safety net
- Let go and allow people to do their work
- Be mentoring and instructive
- Give credit to those doing the work
- Actively solicit feedback from your team
Most dentists aren’t born natural managers or delegators. We need training and instruction like anything else we learn. Investing in a dental practice consultant can help to develop a plan for the immediate and distant future. Sometimes when our dental practices don’t flourish like we wish, it may be mismanagement of our workforce. Someone with training and skills to help us redirect and focus our energies in the right direction may be exactly “what the doctor ordered!”
(The comments and suggestions from Dr. Bill are not to be construed as professional medical advice or treatment but are to be used as Dr. Bill’s thoughts and opinions. Your comments are encouraged and valued.)