Dental assistants: How your office can avoid the summertime slump

It's hard to believe this summer is already half over. But summer can be a great time to get things accomplished, and there's still time. Here are some ideas from the AADOM president.

Jul 12th, 2019
Surprise At Date

School is out, team members are headed off on vacations, and the shocking reality hits you that summer is already half over. It seems as if the year has just gotten started, and now everyone has to work even harder to meet their personal and professional goals.

In the dental office, your summer work routine is one of the best reflections of your office norm. From the way cases are presented and patients are scheduled, to claims processing and office repairs, you’ve formed habits and things may even start to feel a bit mundane.

Now is a great time to sit back, reassess, and make sure you hit the second half of 2019 just as hard as you did the first half. Here are a few tips to get you started.

 Assess your continuing education

How are your team trainings coming along? Is everyone up to date on HIPAA and OSHA requirements? What about new procedures or certifications you want to incorporate? If you have an annual conference you like to attend, great. If not, look into local or regional training options that you can attend. 

Get going on cross-training goals

Speaking of training, how is your team doing toward their annual goals? If you’ve been meaning to cross-train or teach a new skill to one of your team members, now is the time to do it. Set some time aside during the next couple of weeks to list who needs what, then delegate accordingly.

Perform informal midyear reviews

Ask your team to perform self-assessments on their yearly goals, then talk them over during lunch or a break. As an informal review, this casual meeting will feel less intimidating to your team (and less stressful for you), but still be very productive. For goals that aren’t yet met, work to adjust due dates and find time to accomplish them during the next few months.

Evaluate repairs

Does the ultrasonic machine still have some problems? Is the x-ray arm still wobbling? Are all of your printers and computers talking to each other? If you haven’t made the needed repairs or corrections, the time is now. Chances are that if you keep putting things off, you’ll find yourself in a bind. Instead, choose a time that’s convenient and be proactive about fixing things. The last thing you need is for something to break in the middle of a procedure.

Consider an extern

This is the time of year when high school and college students are looking for opportunities to shadow dentists, or area dental assisting schools are scheduling externs for the upcoming fall academic year. Having someone rotate through your office for a couple of months as an extern has two big benefits—it encourages others to pursue a career in oral health, and it lightens your team’s load without adding anyone extra to the payroll. You never know; your extern could become a permanent part of your team someday!

Put the time crunch on cases

Before you know it, patients’ annual allowable amounts for their insurance benefits will be running out. Now is the time to encourage patients to start their necessary treatments before they lose the benefits they’re entitled to. If some things involve procedures that patients need to do in phases, now is the perfect time to schedule their  first appointments.

Tidy up

Have someone sort through magazines and brochures to make sure everything is up to date. Schedule someone to come in and perform a deep clean. These people can give the office a second set of eyes and catch any areas that may not be getting cleaned each week. Along these same lines, work with a company to shampoo carpets or polish hard surface flooring.

Treat your team

It’s amazing how many dental practices have full-time team members who never get the chance to keep up with their own prophylactic appointments. If you haven’t already, set aside times to ensure that each of your team members is seen for a cleaning, exam, and x-rays if needed. The best times to see your team are at the beginning of the year and middle of the year so that any dental coverage can be used as soon as care is needed. 

Think about next year

Don’t wait until the end of the year to think about your goals for 2020. If it’s something you know you can’t reach this year, place it at the top of your to-do list. That way when December rolls around, you won’t be scratching your head when it comes to what’s next.

 Seek input

Set up a comment box in the break room for your team to share ideas or suggestions as they see things that pop up. Some of a business’ best changes come from internal viewpoints and ideas . . . your team just needs an opportunity to share them!

Heather Colicchio is the founder and president of the nation’s largest professional organization for dental office managers and practice administrators: The American Association of Dental Office Management. AADOM also produces the Annual Dental Management Conference.  

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