Need a 2017 resolution? Become the best dental assistant you can be!

Jan. 10, 2017
Dental assistants need to let dentists know what their interests and motivations are on the job so that they can excel in their position. Assistants also need to realize their importance to the dental office.
Kevin Henry, Cofounder, IgniteDA.net

It’s 2017! How did you celebrate the New Year coming in? Did you stay up until midnight partying with friends, or were you tucked in your bed and awoke to the unlimited potential of a new year?

One of the best things about a New Year is that it’s a time for fresh beginnings. It’s a time when people dust off the old ways they’ve been doing things and try to better themselves. That’s why gym memberships skyrocket in January, right?

We all want to be better at what we do, don’t we? Dental assistants are no exception. I sincerely doubt any of you wake up and get out of bed with the thought that you’re going to be horrible at your job that day.

So how can you be better in your chosen career in 2017? How can you climb ever closer to being the best dental assistant in your practice, city, state, or even the nation? Hey, the sky is the limit, right? But to get there, you have to have a plan. Make sure it includes these five things.

RELATED ARTICLES:The importance of dental assisting certification
Dental assistants have the caring and passion to help
Employment trends in dentistry lead to a bright future for dental assistants

Know what you can and can’t do
You know what would get 2017 off on the wrong foot? If you were caught violating your state’s dental laws and performing procedures that you weren’t legally allowed to do in your state. Do you know what you legally can and can’t do in your state? If not (or if you need a refresher), check out DANB.org. The site has an easy-to-read list for every state. Remember, every state is different, so make sure you know exactly what you can or can’t do in your practice in your state.

Do everything you can do
So now you’ve read your state’s list and you know what you can do in the practice. I’ll bet there are some things on the list you’re not currently doing on a daily basis. If that’s the case, talk to your dentist about it. Show him or her the page and ask if there’s a way to incorporate new offerings into the practice. It’ll show you’re not only on top of your game, but that you also want the practice to grow and succeed. As I say in my lectures, when the practice succeeds, dental assistants will succeed, both financially and personally. Everyone wants to be part of a winning culture. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to make sure your practice is a better business in 2017.

Invest in yourself
If you’re going to be doing new things in the practice, you’re going to need to know exactly what you’re doing … and the best way to do that. It’ll take an investment on your part in terms of time. You’re going to need to read articles, attend CE courses, join online communities like IgniteDA.net, and stretch your personal boundaries.

Ben Franklin once said, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” So what are you doing to grow in your career?

When it comes to CE courses, ask your local sales rep about opportunities for lunch and learns. Ask about upcoming meetings in your area and what you can attend. Make sure you’re talking to your dentist about what interests you and what could benefit the practice. If there’s a CE course you could attend together, that’s a perfect scenario. You’re both learning at the same time and can implement the same thoughts into your practice mix.

Communicate with your dentist
It may sound simple, but does your dentist know what motivates you? Does he or she know what you love to do in the practice? Does he or she know which procedures are your favorite? So many times, you only view the dentist-assistant relationship as a boss-worker relationship. It should be a team effort. You should know what drives the dentist just as much as he or she should know what inspires you.

When I’m lecturing to dental assistants, so many of them tell me they love to work on oral surgery procedures. But does their dentist know that? Does he or she know you’re doing what you do because you love it and not just because it’s a paycheck? If not, change that today.

Believe in yourself
I often tell assistants that if you don’t believe in yourself, who will? You have to believe in your abilities, skills, and the difference you can make for your patients and practice every day.

You’re not “just an assistant” as my friend Angela Severance points out through her NINJADentistry.com site. You are the assistant. You are the rock star of the practice. You are one of the people patients trust. Start believing that today and you’ll be amazed how your perspective and your career can change.

At IgniteDA.net, we’re here to empower, enlighten and educate dental assistants. We are designating 2017 as “the year of the dental assistant.” Amazing things are ahead. Take these five suggestions and put them into action and watch how your daily activities and career can take off. The sky is the limit.

For the most current dental assistant headlines, click here.

For the most current dental headlines, click here.

Kevin Henry speaks to dental audiences across the nation on topics that empower dental assistants, helping them recognize the leadership role they hold in the practice. With 16 years in the dental publishing industry, Kevin is the cofounder of IgniteDA.net, a community designed to empower, enlighten, and educate dental assistants.