When we look at something like a “job,” we tend to just show up and get paid, do a job and consider ourselves, dare I say, “just a dental assistant.” Compare this to the professional dental assistant attitude — the knowledge that this is a vocation that requires an education and continual learning, that we educate others, create smiles, and impact people’s lives. We need to quit the mindset that we are “just dental assistants,” and quit sucking spit and begin talking dentistry.
Dental practices are companies, and companies are in the business of making money. Therefore, staff must become businesspeople and not employees. Employees do as they are told, businesspeople figure out what needs to be done and then do it. Businesspeople are peak performers. They have different beliefs; they look at what is possible or what they are willing to change. They ask questions and enjoy the process. Businesspeople bear full responsibility for their actions, and employees do not. Businesspeople know they are accountable for results and accountable to each other. Employees are not expected to understand the big picture; businesspeople know they must see the big picture.
Interpersonal communication – How do you communicate with yourself and your team? You must be able to communicate with yourself effectively first so that your message to others can be heard.
• Self-motivation – This is the ability to create value for yourself in the practice. It is often said that dental assistants do not produce, but in actuality the doctor and hygienist cannot produce without the dental assistant. This is known as “keeping one step ahead of the doctor.” Being prepared, having the same set-ups in each room, directing the doctor, knowing when and how to ask for training, showing the doctor how your expanded functions create more time, all relate to the overall production of the practice. How you are able to make a difference in the delivery of quality dental treatment is the difference between being a productive member of the dental team or not.
• Conflict resolution – Nobody likes confrontation, so it’s important to know how to handle the uncomfortable upsets that inevitably occur. Conflicts occur due to unmet expectations, it’s as simple as that. You need to be able to find the source of the upset and handle it eloquently, otherwise there is resentment and blame.
• Salesmanship of yourself and your product – What makes you special in what you do in the practice? We all have distinct talents. Promoting what you do best sets you apart and elevates you to professionalism.
• The ability to give presentations – Does being asked to give a presentation make you weak at the knees? Does the thought of speaking in public terrify you? Do you realize that every time you speak to a patient you give a presentation? It’s true! Become comfortable speaking even in small groups because this tool will always be important.