This month KOMET Korner welcomes back our friend and colleague, Tina M. Calloway, CDA, who helped design the Tina Calloway PRO-Visional Kit. Tina will share her insight into what makes assistants so valuable to a practice. She gives advice to her fellow assistants on how to get published, prevent the spread of flu, and help with 2010 budgeting and long-term planning. Be sure to be on the lookout for Tina’s exciting and informative lectures, scheduled for April 22 and May 28, 2010.Dental Assisting Digest™ wants to know what’s on your mind. This is an interactive forum, so if you have something you want to ask KOMET USA’s esteemed panel of assistants, please e-mail questions to [email protected]. Your continued success is beneficial to your office’s success.DAD: What do you recommend to fellow assistants who want to get published?Calloway: I recommend finding the dental journal that best fits them and the topic they’d like to write about. The journal should be one they want their name associated with. Most journals’ Web sites have article submission/guideline information posted, including proper contact information. I also suggest speaking with the editor. This way they can find out what topics the editor is looking for, or they can suggest a topic for a future issue. They should make sure to write about a topic that they not only are passionate about, but that the journal readers care about as well. Of course, every author is nervous about submitting his or her first article; however, if you don’t succeed with your first submission to a dental magazine, don’t give up. Many dental journals, newsletters, and magazines would like to publish an article by a clinical/business assistant, and they are always looking for fresh, new authors.DAD: What has your office done to prevent the spread of flu, especially H1N1?Calloway: H1N1 has been a huge concern this year. Our office has done the same thing to prevent H1N1 as we’ve done in the past to prevent seasonal flu. We use a hospital-grade disinfectant — the same disinfectant used in neonatal care units (Sci-Can 33 TB). Not only is it important for us to keep surfaces germ-free, but also to use products that will not interfere with our respiratory system. Transcendentist, the first “green” dental facility, recommended this solution to us. It is especially important to follow the directions regarding how long the product should sit in an operatory before being wiped away. Many offices do not allow the right amount of time for disinfectants to do their job and assume everything is OK, especially when the office is running behind. Always wear the proper attire while working — gloves, facemask, and eye protection. We prefer an anti-fluid mask that is nonlatex. I also recommend researching your dental distributor catalog for the mask that best fits your needs. Know how to properly wash your hands after each patient. For me, proper hand washing dates back to something I learned as a child — use soap, warm water, and say your ABCs slowly while lacing the soap through your fingers and cleaning underneath your nails. If your facility has the benefit of a washer and dryer, use them. I’d also suggest taking a change of clothes to wear home.DAD: Do you have any suggestions on how assistants can become involved in their practice’s 2010 budget, especially long-term planning, supplies, and inventory?Calloway: It is important for each team member to be involved in setting the budget every year. This builds the team and gives each person a sense of ownership. Each team member needs to have an area of responsibility, including the lab/sterilization area, and the ordering and organizing of office and dental supplies. All team members should understand that they must be successful in running their specific practice (organizing, spending, tracking, etc). Each year, team members should set goals for areas of responsibility. Our dentist and inventory control officer sit down and discuss what it took to supply the office that year. We take 6% of our monthly collections and put it toward the monthly budget. If our supply cost did not exceed our monthly budget, then we use what was left and add it to the next month’s budget. If we exceed the budget, then it is counted as a negative on our spreadsheet and is taken out of the following month’s expense. There are many ways to come up with a budget plan. I suggest sitting down with your local sales reps to help come up with a budget plan. This lets them know how they can help your practice save money. Also, an electronic ordering device is helpful in letting us know what’s on sale when placing an order. Comparing prices and asking your local dealer to match the price of a competitor without losing quality is another way to help with budgeting. Office purchase and inventory control is a lot like supplying and inventorying your household items — waiting for the sale, looking for deals through ads and coupons, and online shopping for free delivery.About Tina M. Calloway, CDAMs. Calloway is a Texas native who served in the Navy in 1992 and received her dental assisting training in Marietta, Ga. Now living in North Carolina, she has worked in dentistry for 14 years as a full-time dental assistant, currently serves as president of the Piedmont Dental Assistant Society, and is a clinical assisting consultant. Ms. Calloway is a member of the North Carolina Dental Assistant Association and the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA). She is also an award-winning graduate of the Dale Carnegie Organization, and an advisory board member of Dental Assisting Digest™ and Inside Dental Assisting magazines, with several published articles. She is a member of the Speaking Consulting Network and the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s Team Advisory Council. Ms. Calloway has also been a guest lecturer at the Thomas P. Hinman Meeting, the Holiday Dental Conference, the University of North Carolina, School of Dentistry, and PennWell’s Professional Dental Assisting Conference.