How my lifelong pursuit of clinical and personal growth led me to 'corporate dentistry'

After 25 years in the trenches of hygiene followed by nonclinical endeavors, my simple goal is to help all dental team members understand and reach for "best practice" protocol and philosophy.

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"As I get to know my rapidly growing team, they count on my ability to draw on my skill set from working chairside and lecturing to create and deliver PowerPoints on relevant clinical hygiene topics. Topics include the oral-systemic link and the importance of periodontal health. My passion is mentoring hygienists to become true health-care providers, influencing the overall health of the patients they serve."

After 25 years in the trenches of hygiene followed by nonclinical endeavors, my simple goal is to help all dental team members understand and reach for "best practice" protocol and philosophy.

Working with teams in diverse locations from rural to urban, I realized that the financial and clinical success of a practice and the stability and happiness of the team can be increased by addressing two topics-appreciation and accountability.

An article I found while researching the topic helped cement that I was on the right track. The two topics atop the list were "full appreciation for work done," and "feeling 'in' on things." (1)

Enter my opportunity—I am now director of hygiene for a fast-growing corporate dental group, also known as a dental service organization (DSO). One of the main factors that makes this setting different in a positive way is state-of-the-art technology for the entire team. This includes digital radiography, panoramic x-ray machines, intraoral cameras, DIAGNOdent, VELscope, chemotherapeutics, and more.

Learning how to use and implement all of this can be a challenge. That is where my role begins. Lifelong learning and adapting research to guide our dental teams and improve patient care keep me busy.

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Since becoming director of hygiene for a DSO, most days my phone begins to ring before 7:00 a.m. Why? I'm here to help hygienists with clinical questions, provide support for dentists and team members, and resolve challenges in locations far away.

I cover 19 practices in Pennsylvania, and I mentor practices in two other states. However, I am not alone-within my DSO we have a built-in safety net to share ideas and solve puzzles that ultimately creates the utmost professional patient experience.

Beyond technology, my days include assessing the talents of our RDH team, mentoring and fostering professional growth, and working to increase productivity. Input from the hygienists allows us to outline a professional improvement plan (PIP), complete with clinical productivity goals, professional development aspirations, and periodontal therapy proficiency standards. What does this provide? It fosters a sense of appreciation and accountability, otherwise known as feeling "in" on things.

READ MORE | My experience as a DSO-supported dentist

As I get to know my rapidly growing team, they count on my ability to draw on my skill set from working chairside and lecturing to create and deliver PowerPoints on relevant clinical hygiene topics. Topics include the oral-systemic link and the importance of periodontal health. My passion is mentoring hygienists to become true health-care providers, influencing the overall health of the patients they serve.

At the start of this journey, the DSO setting seemed so structured, but isn't that how businesses outside of dentistry thrive? Historically, dental practices tracked the number of procedures performed, but not necessarily the quality of care provided to the patients. Working within a DSO, I am tasked to ensure that the hygienists on our team are committed to raising the standard of care for our patients.

If you are new to the profession, or looking to become jazzed and accountable by being appreciated and "in the know," consider working for a DSO-managed practice. I'll be there!

READ MORE | 'Corporate dentistry'—defined

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the March-April issue of Apex360 as part of a special feature on "corporate dentistry." To access the complete feature, click here.

Reference
1. What Do Employees Value in a Workplace? Quandora. http://www.quandora.com/what-do-employees-value-in-a-workplace/. Published November 27, 2012. Accessed February 4, 2016.


Lisa C. Wadsworth, RDH, BS, is the director of hygiene at a DSO. She is a key opinion leader for Philips Sonicare and has served as a dental hygiene educator for OraPharma. She can be reached at lisa@lisawadsworth.com and (215) 262-6168.

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