KOMET Korner Q&A with Shari Becker, CDA, RDA, FADAA -- Jan. 2010

Jan. 19, 2010
In this month's KOMET Korner Q&A, Shari Becker, CDA, RDA, FADAA answers questions on how to get your fellow staff members to partake in continuing education, how to get an aggressive salesperson to back off, and how to inform a coworker that he or she has poor personal hygiene.

Welcome to a new year, a new decade, and the second year for KOMET Korner. This column will continue to address the questions many of you are asking in dental assisting. We begin 2010 by welcoming back our friend and colleague, Shari Becker, to KOMET Korner. Shari works for Dr. Stephen Snow in Danville, Calif., is on the faculty at the Mt. Diablo Adult Education Center in Concord, Calif., and has been teaching dental assisting for more than 12 years. Shari also helped develop the Shari Becker Provisional Fabrication Kit for KOMET USA.

This month, Shari answers questions on how to get your fellow staff members to partake in continuing education, how to get an aggressive salesperson to back off, and how to inform a coworker that he or she has poor personal hygiene. We thank Shari for participating in
Dental Assisting Digest’s interactive column. Don’t forget, we want to know what’s on your mind. If you have something you want to ask KOMET USA’s panel of assistants, please e-mail them to [email protected]. Keep your questions coming, and we promise to answer them in next month’s issue.

DAD: I’m fairly new to this practice and am very excited about my new opportunity. I am a recent RDA and have a great appreciation for continuing education. How do I get my fellow staff members excited about continuing education?

Shari Becker: Let me congratulate you on becoming an RDA. As a licensed professional, there are educational requirements for your renewal. Hopefully, you and the rest of your staff are members of several professional organizations, such as the American Dental Assistants Association, American Dental Hygienists Association, and the American Dental Association. As a member of your professional organizations, you are offered courses that may be available at an annual meeting, such as a live lecture or workshop, or you may be offered a home study or online course. Any and all of these courses can be done as a team. As a new team member, you have the golden opportunity to share your enthusiasm. Discuss the possibility of having a lunch ‘n’ learn program at the office, featuring one of your favorite product representatives. This is a great way to learn together while not interfering with routine office duties. From there, you may suggest that the staff participate in a home study course together on a timely topic that is relative to your office. See if your local dental assisting society has meetings and invite the entire staff. Most importantly, keep your interest in wanting to learn. If you are positive about the opportunity, your enthusiasm will become contagious.*

DAD: How do I get an aggressive solicitor to back off, both on the phone and from appearing at the office?

Becker: Well, like my mother always says, “Honesty is the best policy.” If you’re dealing with a solicitor in which you have no interest, you need to be firm and tell the person you and your office are not interested in his or her services or products at this time. Tell the salesperson that you will be more than happy to keep their card and if, in the future, you find a need for their service or product, you will contact them; however, they should no longer contact you or your office. If that does not work, you may need to contact the solicitor’s manager and inform that person that you have made every attempt to be polite, but there is a problem with this particular person that needs to be addressed by management. The conversation you have with the manager should also be followed up in writing.

DAD: How do I tell a fellow staff member she needs to improve her personal hygiene?

Becker: How many times have our patients come into the office apologizing because they just had garlic at lunch? We are all aware that our personal hygiene is very important. With the close proximity we have with our patients and fellow staff members, it is critical that we abide by excellent personal hygiene standards. If someone on the team is lacking in this department, a very private and gentle discussion is a great way to approach this touchy subject. If this is a new occurrence, perhaps there may be some underlying reasons with health, diet, or other problems at home. Talk to them and say that because you care about them, you could not help but notice there has been a recent change in their appearance/personal hygiene. Ask if there is a problem that you could assist them in resolving. You may be surprised to learn it is a simple solution that just takes a gentle conversation to solve.

*While the information Ms. Becker is sharing is true in California, please note that, depending on the state in which you are employed as a dental assistant, the RDA may not be a recognized credential, and if it is, registration can mean and can require many different things. Registration may or may not be considered equivalent to licensure, and some states that issue the RDA credential may not require RDAs to earn continuing dental education credits to maintain their registration - though we all believe that dental assistants should be lifelong learners regardless of where they are employed! For specifics regarding dental assistant requirements in your state, contact your state's dental board, or go to the State Specific Information section of the Dental Assisting National Board's website at www.danb.org.

About Shari Becker, CDA, RDA, FADAA
Shari Becker has been a full-time chairside assistant for Dr. Stephen R. Snow in Danville, Calif., for 14 years. She is a member of the American Dental Assistants Association, the California Dental Assistants Association, Diablo Dental Assistants Society, the California Association of Dental Assisting Teachers, and the California Council on Adult Education. She is a fellow of the American Dental Assistants Association and is currently serving as the 12th District Trustee to the American Dental Assistants Association, representing California, Nevada, Hawaii, and Guam. She has served in many capacities on the local, state, and national levels, including president of the California Dental Assistant Association and president of the California Association of Dental Assisting Teachers. Shari is currently working in conjunction with dental manufacturing companies to heighten the awareness and acknowledge the contribution of dental assistants to the profession of dentistry.