Do you have a solid foundation?

Aug. 20, 2012
Tina Brown, FAADOM, explains what dental team members need to do to build a strong foundation for their careers that will spur growth.

Whether you’re starting in a new practice, helping to build a practice, or wanting to take your practice to a new level, you need a solid foundation. Just like a house, a relationship, or a business, you need to have a good foundation on which to build these things. Here you are in a dental practice that’s been running OK for a while, with nothing really exciting going on, and you have this feeling that things could be better, but you don’t know quite how to get there. So, let’s start with your foundation.

The first thing is to develop a good working relationship with your doctor. To do that, you may need to have a meeting or two with him to make sure you’re both on the same page and rowing in the right direction. (I say “him” because I work with a wonderful man.) You need to find out what his goals are for the practice. This is where you find out that you may not be rowing in the same direction, but that’s OK. This is what the initial meeting is for. Often we office managers have really high hopes and big dreams for our practices that don’t quite match up with the doctor’s thoughts and dreams, so this is where the foundation is built.

Once the two of you have the same clear vision, it’s time to bring in other senior team members from the front office, hygiene, and assisting departments. This is where you need to keep in mind that although you may want to be the best practice in town, it is still “his” practice, and more discussion may be needed with other team members ... and again, that’s OK. This is how a solid foundation is built.

Now you may think that all of these meetings and discussions are time-consuming, maybe even frustrating, and they are! This is just like planning a major event in your life — it takes a goal, time, effort, a willingness to participate, and of course, the means to do it. So now that you have all of the key players with the same vision and goal, it’s time to present it to the rest of the team.

The doctor is all pumped up and feels like he has a great group of leaders in his court. You are excited beyond belief, and the other leaders are doing the happy dance. You’re now at the staff meeting presenting this to the rest of the team, and you just know that everyone else is going to love it. Well, you know this is not always the case.

Unfortunately, you’ll always have your fair share of Negative Nellies, but don’t let them discourage you. You can handle the negativity by asking for their ideas, or inviting them to oversee the new project.

You have now built a great foundation, so take this opportunity to share with team members how much they are appreciated, and also let them know that you want to see them grow with the practice. It is our responsibility to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to grow and learn within our practice. So now that you have your foundation, GO OUT AND BUILD!

Author bio
Tina Woods Brown, FAADOM, has more than 30 years of experience in the dental field. She attended San Diego State University and Pacific College of Dental Assistants in San Diego. She is a retired RDA, and has spent the last 20 years in the front office. She is a lifetime member of the American Association of Dental Office Managers (AADOM) and has written articles for the front office team. Tina is currently working as an office manager in San Dimas, Calif., and continues her education through seminars, workshops, and conferences. For more information on AADOM, check out