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Do you have what it takes for a career in dental practice management?

June 15, 2022
OMs often have a background in dentistry and excel in managing a team and many tasks at once. If this piques your interest, read on.

Do you have “The Right Stuff,” to quote the title of one astronaut-focused movie? Dental practice managers are a bit like the copilot of an airplane or spaceship, responsible for making sure the practice runs smoothly and serving as the right-hand man (or woman) to the pilot (aka, practice owner).

Managing a practice, the team, and the patients is an exciting and challenging role with a wide variety of duties such as:

  • Conducting new employee interviews
  • Mediating employee conflicts
  • Keeping the schedule full and productive
  • Handling patient billing/insurance issues
  • Ordering supplies
  • Directing payroll
  • Paying office bills
  • Managing accounts receivable and collections
  • Maintaining a safe environment for all patients, team members, and visitors

There are many more duties that vary from day to day, and you’ll wear many hats as a dental practice manager.

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The manager is also in charge of making sure that all legal, ethical, and organizational guidelines are adhered to by team members, and that the practice complies with industry and government guidelines such as HIPAA and OSHA.

Some practices also require managers to carry out a certain amount of non-managerial duties, such as providing reception or dental assisting coverage when necessary.

Required skills

Most dental practice managers have a background in dentistry, however some have managerial and business experience but no background in the dental field. Many dental assistants and hygienists have found practice management to be a great next step in their careers.

Prior dentistry experience and general knowledge of how to use and maintain equipment and materials will go a long way when managing a practice. The more you know, the better you can steer the ship.

Organizational and forward-planning skills are essential to any managerial role and enable one to juggle priorities and tight deadlines. Leadership and team management skills are important when coordinating team members and encouraging them to perform to the best of their abilities. Outstanding communication and social skills are imperative to reduce and resolve conflict, and relate to and engage others. Being a good listener and multitasker are great skills to have as well.

Relevant training 

No academic qualifications are required to become a dental practice manager, but there are several options for gaining formal management qualifications, and with it, more confidence. Dental practice managers’ knowledge, skills, and career prospects can be enhanced by business and administration, customer service, management, and team-lead courses which are available at various levels at a local college or business school. The American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM) is a great resource for education and connecting with other managers. Finding a local AADOM chapter is a valuable resource to help you grow in your new role.

Dental practice management is very challenging, yet so rewarding. As the practice manager, you contribute to the growth of the practice and team, all while making sure the business runs like a well-oiled machine. Take time to invest in yourself and learn as much as possible for a truly rewarding career. You’ll be glad you did!