Continuing Education

The importance of educating your dental team

May 15, 2019
It's important for the entire dental team to be on the same page. Continuing education together is a good place to start, as is sharing current updates in dentistry with the team.

If you’ve been in dentistry for 10, 15, 20 years, or more, you’ve experienced firsthand all of the ways that the industry has evolved. Now, think about the ways that your personal life has changed. You use apps, you can look up information at the click of a button, and you have auto-reminders for absolutely everything.

While we usually pick up on technology trends from our friends, trial and error, or (let’s face it) our kids, the learning process takes time before we become fluent in any of the resources in front of us. 

This is not necessarily the case when it comes to dentistry. Inside of dental practices, we have to take proactive steps in training and educating our teams so that we all grow along with the industry and don’t remain stuck in the 1990s. But chances are that even if you do train together regularly, there will be updates and changes in your office technology that nobody is aware of. Learning how to use them can save you time, increase productivity, and expand your practice’s quality of care. 

Great ways to get started

Book a monthly lunch and learn

Choose a different product or technology rep each month to visit your office and speak with your team. For example, you may want to have the manufacturer of your year-old CT scanner do a refresher on proper settings, patient positioning, and software upgrades. If your office management software has been updated, ask a rep to show you the latest changes that are hiding right in front of your eyes. 

One of the biggest mistakes that many dental practice teams make is that only certain people in the practice go to continuing education courses. While it’s legally required for dentists, hygienists, and assistants to earn a certain number of training hours each year, it does the team a disservice when everyone comes to work on a different page. Instead, take everyone to the conference. When you all hear the same things, it will be easier for your team to incorporate successful changes. Of course, I recommend the AADOM Dental Management Conference, which is perfect for the entire team. 

Prevent staff from going stagnant 

A job that feels repetitive and doesn’t give you a chance to grow can lead to burnout. By constantly looking for ways to help your staff learn new skills, cross train (as appropriate), and get better at what they do, you’re investing in both your business and your team’s value. Having a manager who values his or her team members and helps them reach their full potential will lead to satisfaction on everyone’s account. 

Regulations and research are always changing

Each year, scientific research and new laws come out that change the way dental teams do their jobs. From recognizing the signs of child abuse to when and how fluoride is applied, there is a lot to keep up with. As a manager, it’s important to always be on the lookout for changes in the dental industry. Consider browsing the abstract summaries in dental journals to spot significant changes that your team needs to know about.

Team building builds team rapport 

As cliché as it sounds, team building is important to help your practice grow and function as a cohesive unit. When you have healthy relationships among staff, people will be more likely to help one another and make sure your schedule is running on time. Not everyone needs to be best friends with their coworkers, but team-building activities intermingled with regular training can help promote a positive atmosphere so that people actually enjoy going to work each day.

Training puts your office goals into action

When it comes to putting new policies into action, your team needs the right training on how to do it. For example, if you’ve developed a new payment protocol or changed insurance partnerships, your staff need to know the right way to communicate those changes to patients without discouraging them from making their appointments. The better they understand the details and are provided with verbiage (not necessarily scripts) to relay that information to patients, the more prepared they will be to work through policy changes. 

Keep your team efficient 

Each year during a lunch and learn or annual staff reviews, present a refresher on job duties in the office employee manual. Even if your staff members do a great job, verbally reinforcing and reminding them of what they were hired to do will serve as a reminder so that tasks don’t go overlooked. It’s also a good opportunity to look for ways to grow or expand their skillsets.

Remember that you, too, need training as an office manager. As lifelong learners, we lead our teams and instill an attitude of consistent self-improvement.

Heather Colicchio is the founder and president of the American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM), the nation’s largest professional organization for dental office managers and practice administrators. AADOM teaches business management skills for the dental practice. Heather is passionate about small businesses and entrepreneurship. She is excited by vision and building and seeing ideas come to life, especially when these ideas empower others. One of her strengths is connecting people to achieve their goals. She appreciates quality collaboration and thrives working with a talented team of professionals in her organization and within the dental industry. Learn more about AADOM and Heather’s efforts and advocacy for dental management professionals at