5 simple ways dental assistants can make 2019 their best year ever

The new year is almost here! Dental assistants want to make 2019 a great year for their careers, no doubt. What can they do to get there? Kevin Henry has some helpful suggestions to prepare for a terrific 2019.

Dec 3rd, 2018
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It’s finally happening. After discussing what dental assistants can do in 2018 to prepare for an amazing 2019, we’re almost to the end of preparation time! It’s now time to put into place what you’ve thought about for next year and the plans you have to rock your DA position like never before.

Wait . . . what? You didn’t make your plans yet? You don’t have a solid game plan for how to make 2019 better for you than 2018? Well, don’t worry. You’re in luck. This article has just what you need!

I’m writing this at the end of a day giving lectures to dental assistants at the Greater New York Dental Meeting. One of the things I heard from some of the amazing assistants I met in the Big Apple was their desire to make their careers more rewarding, more exciting, and filled with more of what they wanted when they first decided to become dental assistants.

With that in mind, I’m sharing my top five ways that you can start 2019 off right and make it your best year ever professionally.

1. Embrace the differences in your practice

You know, we as human beings spend a lot of time trying to “fix” other people and make them think the way we do. We want people to act like we do, vote like we do, worship like we do, and work like we do. Wouldn’t that be awesome? No, actually, it wouldn’t.

I believe that our differences as a society (and a workplace) can make us stronger if we take a few moments to listen to other viewpoints. With those differing viewpoints comes the opportunity to solve problems with more than one idea or one way of thinking.

Use your practice’s mission statement as an opportunity to bring everyone together on one uniting thought, and then listen to the ideas that will branch out from there. You might be surprised what happens when everyone is free to voice their own opinions with little fear of repercussion.

2. Know you’re a leader

How did you demonstrate in 2018 that you are not “just a dental assistant?” How are you going to show that even more in 2019? These are things to think about, and they will help you start formulating a plan right now to take on even more of a leadership role in your practice.

You may be reading this and thinking, “I’m not a leader.” Well, with that thought process, you’re right, you’re not, because your thought process is limiting your potential.

The important thing is to know that your opinions and beliefs matter, and then you need to walk around all day and night actually believing that. I’ve told my daughter since she was an infant, “If you don’t believe in yourself, who else is going to?” You know what? She’s a very smart and confident almost-21-year-old woman. She exudes confidence every day and others are drawn to her because of it.

I’ve seen this same thing happen in dental practices. Dental assistants who believe their voices make a difference can set the tone for their businesses. In good times, these assistants are always ahead of the curve when it comes to their duties, in addition to helping others rise to the challenge of succeeding every day. In tough times, these assistants help others understand how to not only get through the not-so-easy times, but also how to make sure those times don’t happen again.

Assistants have so many good ideas but are often afraid to voice them. Be a leader. Step up and take control of a situation. Do what you know needs to be done to help your business grow.

3. See if your core values align

I think it’s important for every member of the dental team to look at the practice’s mission statement and use it as the baseline for every decision that impacts the business. If team members can’t agree on anything else, they should be able to turn to the mission statement of the business for common ground.

But what if the mission statement is not current? What if the mission statement does not align with what you believe? If it doesn’t, it’s going to be hard for you to succeed in your current environment.

Think about this: If you’re working in a practice that doesn’t believe in upgrading technology, but your heart races when you think about learning CAD/CAM or 3-D printing or lasers, maybe you need to look at whether this practice is the right place for you to grow your career.

When everyone in the practice is on the same page, great things can happen. But this isn’t something you can fake. Everyone needs to work for a business that matches what they believe in as individuals. Take a few moments to write down where you want to be this time next year as a dental professional. If you don’t believe you’re working in the business that can help get you there, perhaps it’s time to look at where your future path will lead.

4. Understand your weaknesses

No one likes to admit they don’t do something well. But it’s important to acknowledge the areas where we can improve in order to truly improve. What responsibilities could you perform better with the right training, or even the right shift in attitude? These are things to focus on heading into the New Year.

What courses can you take to improve yourself? Where will you take the courses—online or live? Will you take this path alone, or will you seek out other assistants who have taken these courses, or who have the skills to help you in these areas? Will you attend the courses with your doctor? These are just some of the questions you need to consider.

When you know what areas you want to strengthen in your career and you make the plans to really do it, that’s when real growth will occur.

5. Picture 2020 right now

Yep, I’m asking you to think ahead about the next decade before we’re even close to wrapping up this one. Here’s why.

I’ve written a lot here about getting a plan together for 2019. And you should do that. But part of putting that plan together should lead you down the path toward thinking even further into your career. What steps are you going to take next year to be better at what you do, and what kind of success does that set up for you when the new decade begins?

Ask yourself: Where do I want to be 12 months from now? Part of the answer to that will lie in what you do next month and the month after that and the month after that to get there. That’s part of “laying out the road map” to know how to get from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be in the near future).

Think about it, then write it down. Visualize it. Come up with a plan on how to make it a reality. Yes, it’s going to take some extra work, but isn’t your career worth it?

I know 2019 can be an amazing year for you, but you can’t just sit there and wish for it to happen. You have to invest your thoughts, time, and energy into making it a reality. I know you can do it. Set your sights on your future and don’t let anything distract you from it!

If you’re still stuck, join me on IgniteDA.net, a free community designed to empower, enlighten, and educate dental assistants. Once you’ve done that, drop me a line at kevin.henry@igniteda.net. I am happy to help you in any way that I can.

Here’s to a great New Year ahead for you! I have every belief that you are going to rock 2019!

MORE ARTICLES FROM KEVIN HENRY
How a South African safari got me thinking about dental assistants
Dental assistants and front office staff: How to work well together (video)
The power that a dental assistant's simple smile can carry (video)

An advocate of today’s dental assistant, Kevin Henryspeaks to dental audiences across the nation on topics that empower dental assistants, helping them recognize the leadership role they hold in the dental practice. He is the cofounder of IgniteDA.net, a community designed to enlighten, empower, and educate dental assistants.


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