Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2018 09 Baseball 1

How to be an all-star rookie dental assistant

Sept. 18, 2018
You did it! You completed your education, and you're a practicing dental assistant. Want to shine on the job? This seasoned dental professional shares a few words of advice, and she likens the advice to starting on a sports team.
You did it! You trained hard and finished your dental assisting classes. You’ve been drafted to a team and you’re ready to get in the game and play ball. It’s your first time up to the plate and you want to hit the proverbial “ball out of the park.”

Here are some tips that are sure to help you become an all-star rookie dental assistant.

Be a sponge

Have you ever wondered how a sponge absorbs so much water? The loosely-bound particles in the sponge create space for absorption. The wetter the sponge, the more it can absorb. As a rookie, you cannot be tightly bound to “This is what I learned in school” or “I was taught to do it this way.” If you are, you’ll miss the experiential knowledge and talent all around you. Be open to learning and soak it all in. Even though you’ve graduated, the learning has really only just begun.

Do the math

I’ve always been in awe of those who are gifted in math, but even I know that 6+4 and 7+3 both equal 10. There is often more than one way to arrive at a solution or solve a problem. This is especially hard for rookies because they tend to be “by the book.”

You may have learned in school to do a procedure in a particular order, to mix a material a certain way, or to take radiographs in a specific sequence. However, if someone does it differently, but the end result is still the same and patients are still well-cared for within the standard of care, you don’t need to sweat it. In fact, this is a great time to practice point one and become a sponge.

Make connections

Most diehard sports fans have their favorite players. When a rookie steps onto the playing field, fans are waiting and watching to see what the newbie will bring to the game. Similarly, the team takes on a rookie in the hopes that the person will add value to the team. You might be the next dental assisting MVP for your practice, but until you authentically connect with and earn the confidence of the patients and the team, don’t expect cheering from the stands. Get in the game, give it your all, and be a team player. Over time, patients will welcome you as though you’ve always been on the field, and your teammates will recognize you as a valuable team player.

Keep your head in the game

There will inevitably be times you strike out or miss the fly ball that comes right at you. It’s OK. Don’t let it get you so rattled that you can’t keep your head in the game. Like all good athletes, watch your mental replays, be open to feedback from seasoned players and coaches, and consider what you can do differently the next time you step on the field.

Finally, stay focused on why you decided to play in the first place—for the love of the game! Being an all-star rookie doesn’t mean coming to the game with perfected skills and seasoned abilities. It means recognizing that you are new to the game, but you have trained for this moment and you’re ready to play. So get in the game and let’s play ball!

For the most current dental assistant headlines, click here.
For the most current dental headlines, click here.
Jennifer Zabel, RDH, CDA, MHA, is a dental professional with more than 20 years of combined practice as a dental assistant and hygienist. Jennifer is the dental assisting program director at ECPI University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where she serves as the faculty onboarding coordinator for her campus’ health science programs. She is a workplace culture warrior and believes in the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to dental and health care. She can be reached at [email protected].