KOMET Korner Q&A with Tina M. Calloway, CDA

April 20, 2010
In this month's KOMET Korner, Tina M. Calloway, CDA, shares with DAD readers her opinion on how you can get back into the industry after being away for a couple of years, how to combat a workflow slowdown, and what to do when you're asked to perform duties outside your legal responsibilities.

This month, KOMET Korner welcomes back our friend and colleague, Tina M. Calloway, CDA. Tina shares her opinion on how you can get back into the industry after being away for a couple of years, how to combat a workflow slowdown, and what to do when you’re asked to perform duties outside your legal responsibilities. We encourage you to sign up for Tina’s informative lecture being held next month in Las Vegas. For more information or to register for Tina’s course, please visit www.discusdental.com/lasvegasextravaganza.

Dental Assisting Digest wants to know what’s on your mind. If you have something you want to ask the KOMET USA esteemed panel of assistants, please e-mail your questions to [email protected]. Your continued success is important to your office’s success.

DAD: I am a CDA who has been out of the trade for a few years. I enjoyed my work as an assistant; however, all the assisting jobs being posted are through staffing agencies. Do you have any ideas on how I can get back into assisting without going through an agency?

Calloway: One of the best solutions is to network. Our office has hired assistants who are friends or acquaintances of our colleagues. Make sure that all of your state and national requirements are up to date. Show that you are current on the latest dental sciences by taking any online clinical courses you can. I’d also recommend joining your local dental assisting society to help get your name out there. If a friend recommends sending your resume to a practice, don’t just mail it in or drop it off at the front desk. A drop-off with little verbal or physical contact does not leave much of an impression — it is a passive approach. When you deliver your resume, ask to speak with the office manager/dentist or make an appointment to meet the person. Let the staff know you are new in town and are professionally qualified to help provide great dentistry. Also, a firm handshake with eye contact means everything. People hire people, not paper.

DAD: Our office is experiencing a slowdown. What suggestions do you have to encourage patients to progress with treatment?

Calloway: Most patients do not schedule treatment because they feel they were not listened to, or the value and urgency of a recommended treatment was not explained to them. Listen to what your patients want and ask them about their oral health goals. Customize treatment plans to their individual desires and goals. The use of new technology such as intraoral cameras or a DIAGNOdent can assist patients in self-discovery, especially when they’re not sure what they want. Using these tools can empower patients to make good choices in proceeding with dental care.

DAD: I am a newly licensed assistant and primarily work for a temporary agency. I am often asked to perform duties that are outside my legal scope of practice. How do you recommend I inform and educate the doctors who may not be aware of these current duties?

Calloway: “Appeal to the nobler motives.” — Dale Carnegie
Ask to speak with your dentist privately. Explain to him or her that you are thankful for his or her trust and that you’re capable of performing such duties. Let the dentist know that while you may be capable, it is important to the value and quality of the practice that your state dental assisting rules and regulations are met. Let the dentist know that you recognize his or her hard work and good judgment in helping you honor and keep your certification by complying with these guidelines. Perhaps the dentist may even help improve these rules by writing a letter to the state/national board requesting that these specific duties be added to clinical assistant guidelines. This support might help you legally comply with the dentist’s requests, and any additional help and support will allow you to expand your career.

Ms. Calloway is a Texas native who served in the U.S. 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, is the past president of the Piedmont Dental Assistant Society, and is currently a clinical assisting consultant. Ms. Calloway is a member of the North Carolina Dental Assistants Association and the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA). She is also an award-winning graduate of the Dale Carnegie Organization, an advisory board member of Dental Assisting Digestand Inside Dental Assisting magazines, with several published articles. Ms. Calloway is a regular KOMET Korner participant in Dental Assisting Digest, and in conjunction with KOMET USA, helped develop the Tina Calloway PRO-Visional Kit TD2103A, the first bur kit from KOMET USA designed for dental assistants by a dental assistant to work on provisional temporaries. Tina was named by Dental Products Report as One of Five People to Watch in 2010. 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.