Thursday Troubleshooter: The dentist won't pay for my CE courses

Oct. 31, 2013
I need CE but the doctor won't pay for it

QUESTION: How do I approach my boss about paying for more CE? I have asked a few times but she seems reluctant because of the cost of the courses, plus having to pay me. Can you help me with what to say to her to justify the cost? I've been a manager here for two years and need help! Thanks!

First let me commend you for wanting to further your education. The most important thing to remember is that you have to show your doctor the value of the continuing education. Allowing her to see that the practice is benefiting from the courses you take will help strengthen your argument. It is not enough to just attend these courses, you must bring back ideas and suggestions for new equipment or software that will help the practice grow and focus on patients. Remind the dentist too that any CE you take is a tax write-off for her.

I wish you success as you continue to grow your knowledge and help your practice be the best it can be!

The main point for the doctor is that she needs to have continuing education in order to provide patients with the most up-to-date treatment possible. The office manager needs continuing education in order to run his or her office to the utmost level of efficiency. That means having a better managed team, increased cash flow into the office, and giving patients the best possible experience when they visit the office. Another point is that dentistry is a constantly evolving profession. The doctor isn’t performing the same dentistry as she did when she graduated from dental school. The same is true for the office manager. It’s an ever-changing position and you need to be educated in order to keep up.

If you can’t convince the doctor of this necessity, you need to find a way to get continuing education in order to make yourself the best manager you can be. This might mean making an investment into your own education. The American Association of Dental Office Managers offers free webinars to their members. They can provide you with a list of local dental administrative study clubs that are filled with motivated office managers that meet to network and share their knowledge. The Crest Professional website also has free online CE.

ANSWER FROM BRIDGET FAY, BBA, [email protected]:
Convincing doctors to spend more money is sometimes a very hard sell. If you’re dealing with someone that is budget conscious and concerned about the costs of having a practice, you will have to put some serious value behind your desired CE credits. For example, if you take a class on coding and narratives, you could tell the dentist how your new knowledge can be used to increase the amount of services paid for and have claims paid faster. Don't be afraid to print out the outstanding claims report or show her previously denied claims. Present the credentials for the course presenter, and any feedback attendees have shared about how the course benefited their offices.

Planning ahead is very important as well. Before you present the opportunity and cost to the doctor, print out any materials from the class so she can review it. It may not be enough to just talk about it. If you give enough notice then the cost can be worked into the following month's budget. If this doesn't work, express your desire to learn more and help the practice as a whole. Your ultimate goal is to learn so the entire practice will benefit. Compare it to her education to become a dentist. You’re looking to be an exceptional, experienced dental office manager, so you’ll need extra education to be just that!

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