February 19, 2013
on rising up to the challeng(ing patient)
I fell in love with prosthodontics when I was a dental assistant in the Navy. Sometimes patients arrive in our office because they have tried solving their dental issues with many other dentists. By this time they have convinced themselves that they are beyond help. I take great pleasure in being part of a team that rises to each and every challenge, where the result is creating a beautiful smile. We’ve had patients test our patience by walking in without an appointment and insisting on being seen that day. We’ve treated patients from other states and countries who needed their treatment completed within a certain timeframe. We remain flexible and assure them they will be seen as soon as the schedule allows. Whether it is an extreme bite issue, a single crown, veneers, or a full-mouth reconstruction case with implants, we treat every patient with the confidence we can help them.
the new patient experience
With over 20 years of dental experience, I’ve come to realize that the most important aspect of the team approach is to make patients as comfortable as possible. After all, where would any of us be without our patients? Since we recognize the significance of a patient’s first visit, we’ve created an approach that is unlike any I’ve experienced anywhere else. It begins with the first phone conversation, during which our highly trained patient coordinator spends as much time as needed with the patient gathering information, discussing their needs, and explaining the details of the first appointment. We believe this process allows them to build confidence in us and reassures them that they have made the right decision by scheduling an appointment with us. The whole team can confidently talk about the beautiful work Dr. Boenning produces and assure every new patient they’re in the right place. Our patients are amazed with their experience and frequently tell us that we gave them the most thorough examination they’ve ever experienced.
transforming patients with fears into patients with smiles
Every patient who walks through the door is treated with the highest level of care. By realizing that every person has their own dental history, it is our responsibility and pleasure to treat patients with respect and compassion and to educate them on their oral health.
Our patients are made as comfortable as possible with pillows, blankets, and eye pillows. A soft touch on the shoulder to calm them and soothing music is offered on an iPod. It’s really all about making every patient feel special, cared for, and confident in every team member.
making every patient a potential referral
We see patients who have been to many dentists and are reluctant to start fresh. We rise to the challenge to create an experience for them, calm them, and build their confidence. When their case is complete, we celebrate with them about their new smile. They are more than patients; they’re potential marketing representatives for us as they share our name with family and friends. When people are happy with the care they receive, they tell people about it. Knowing this, we have created a new marketing tool — gift cards. We have two types — one to use toward a new patient exam, and one for teeth whitening. Our customers can hand these out to their friends and family, and we are confident it will be a huge success!
building a team that works well together
One bad apple does spoil the whole bunch! Like most offices, we’ve had to overcome obstacles created by negativity. It may be a complainer, a drama queen, a negative employee, or even a “princess” that brings everyone down. Communication is the key to getting through this negativity. I make sure every person on the team believes in themselves. If they are confident in their abilities, they’re more likely to be the best they can be. Praise goes a long way, and I post teamwork quotes in our staff room from time to time. If there are personality conflicts, we go to the source and make it a point to not let it continue. We try explaining to the team member the effects their mood has on everyone, and we ask how we can help them solve the issue at hand. We believe in helping each other, not hesitating to ask for assistance, and treating each other with professionalism and respect. Keep in mind that if the employee resists change, you must be willing to let them go.
the importance of continuing education
Everyone in the office believes in continuing education, whether on a new product, equipment, new OSHA and HIPAA standards, software training, lunch-and-learns — the list goes on. Dr. Boenning often attends meetings with his professional groups and attends many study groups as well. He lectures at study groups and associations several times a month. His involvement in the industry encouraged me to do something extra. I joined the American Association of Dental Office Managers in 2009. It is a tremendous group of office managers that offer support and a place to go if someone is struggling with an issue in their office. The virtual study group meets online, and the wealth of information they provide is encouraging. The AADOM hosts an annual conference that I attend every year and I have brought back many useful ideas that we have implemented in our practice.
being the doctor’s right-hand woman
As business manager, my job is to take on many different roles and let the doctor do as much dentistry as possible. It is simultaneously challenging and fulfilling to know I can take burdens off his shoulders to let him do what he does best. My greatest reward is being hands-on with the rest of the team and accomplishing everything by week’s end. You must remain flexible, be able to be pulled away many times a day, and help everyone remain calm. I love every aspect of my job, and I wouldn’t dream of doing anything else.
Jana Bowhall has been the business manager for Keith A. Boenningsince 2006. Dr. Boenning is a prosthodontist and has been recognized as one of the “Best Dentists in America” and repeatedly recognized locally by his fellow dentists in Baltimore Magazine as a “Top Prosthodontist.” Jana started her dental career as an assistant in the U.S. Navy and recently achieved fellowship with the American Association of Dental Office Managers.
Read previous office manager profiles here:
On running an excellent dental office: Danielle Dailey, Kathryn Ehmann & Associates
On being a great office manager: Lori Cline, Discovery Dental
On the right ingredients: Kirsten Zettergren, Blue Back Dental