5 ways for dental assistants to stand out from their colleagues and get that pay raise

Dental assistants should go above and beyond what's in their job description to make themselves stand out. This will hopefully lead to more satisfied patients, and maybe even a pay raise.

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This article originally appeared in Dental Assisting Digest e-newsletter. Subscribe to this informative monthly ENL designed specifically for the dental assistant here.

If you’re just starting out as a dental assistant or even if you’ve got 20 years under your belt, it’s imperative that you try and stand out from your colleagues. Doing so could land you a nice pay raise. These days it’s not enough for you to simply follow your job description. It’s essential for you to go above and beyond what’s laid out in the job description if you want to advance your career.
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HERE I PROVIDE YOU WITH FIVE TOP TIPS that will allow you to stand out from the crowd and develop your skills. This will be noticed by your employer and patients alike.

1. Work hard

In the busy dental office, there are often many tasks to do and not enough people to do them. If you find yourself at a loose end after finishing your own tasks, look for ways you can help your colleagues. They will then hopefully do the same for you if you’re overwhelmed sometime. It’s a great way to bond as a team and show your employer that you have initiative and truly care about the practice, rather than just your individual duties.

If your colleagues don’t need help with their tasks, there are always general tasks that need doing. For example, you could help sterilize instruments or spend a few extra minutes bonding with patients. This allows patients to feel more at ease, which helps create a good reputation that will lead patients to return time and again. Your work ethic will be noticed by your peers and employer, and this will cement you as someone who is vital to the practice. When it comes to a salary review, you can draw your employer’s attention to all the extra tasks you do each day that are not included in your job description.

 2. Push other dental services

Another way that you can stand out is to offer patients additional dental services that would benefit them. Make sure that you don’t come across to patients as a pushy salesperson because this could have the opposite effect and patients might become irritated.

For example, if a patient mentions that he or she struggles to keep his or her teeth clean, you could suggest that the person book a series of tooth whitening appointments to keep that smile looking pearly white. This will not only provide the dental office with more work, you will also help the patient improve an aspect of his or her oral health.to s

3. Volunteer

Yes, you may think I’ve gone mad recommending that you volunteer as a dental assistant, especially when you have to work full time in the dental office. Hear me out!

Dental assistants who volunteer have reported that they have a greater sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in their careers. Also, volunteering looks great on your CV and resumé. It shows that you have a real passion for being a dental assistant, and that makes you more employable. Not many dental assistants will consider this route, so invest in yourself and you’ll reap the rewards.

4. Interact with patients to build relationships

As mentioned earlier, developing excellent relationships with patients will help you stand out. Calming patients can relax them during treatment, and this allows the dentist to complete his or her work stress-free. Identifying when a patient looks worried, for example, is to look for various verbal cues, or if the person makes faces during treatment. That’s when you’ll know that you need to help someone relax.

It really does make a difference when you show compassion toward every patient. This extra care helps keep patients happy, and happy patients are imperative to the success of the practice. If your employer recognizes that a patient is a big fan of yours, he or she will be more likely to want to keep you in the practice.

5. Complete regular continuing education credits

Continuing education credits are an absolute must for dental assistants who want to advance their careers. The dental industry doesn’t stand still, and new technologies are constantly being introduced, as well as new techniques that you will not have learned during your training. It’s safe to say that dental assistants who qualified 30 years ago will not have the same level of expertise regarding modern techniques that newer dental assistants have.

Continuing education credits ensure that all assistants have a working knowledge of new techniques and technology to help them provide the highest level of care. In some states, dental assistants are required to complete a set number of credits in order to renew their licenses. I recommend that you go above and beyond the minimum number of recommended credits as this will tell your employer and any future employers that you have a real interest in your role as a dental assistant. Plus, the more techniques you learn, the more tasks you can take on in your dental office. With enhanced responsibility normally comes increased pay.

These are just some of the tips that will help you as a dental assistant stand out from your competition. My advice is not to settle for being an average dental assistant. Push yourself to become an excellent assistant. By implementing even one or two of these tips, I’m sure you’ll develop in your role and bag a pay raise.

Do you have any tips for your fellow dental assistants to stand out from the crowd? Let us know below!

Peter Cargill is an entrepreneurial executive leader and founder of DentReps, The Dental Jobs Site, and DR Recruiting, Dentistry’s Recruiting Solution. Peter Cargill has now assumed the role of Vice President of Sales for GPS Dental Products, Inc. and will oversee all divisions including products, technology, e-commerce, and hiring solutions. Peter has spent the past decade primarily in the dental industry, both domestically and internationally.


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