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Why is continual training for your dental team important?

April 16, 2020
Laura Hatch believes that the front office team will be more engaged if they're kept up to date about the latest developments in the field and reminded that they're an important part of the team.
Laura Nelson, BS, MS, FAADOM, Founder of Front Office Rocks

If a patient only brushed his or her teeth once a month, would that be enough to prevent cavities? If you went to the gym only one time a month, would you lose weight? If you told your kids once to eat healthy foods, would they automatically make healthy choices from then on? With all of these and many other things, repetition is the key to growth, improvement, and success. It takes doing something over and over to create a lasting outcome.

The same principle holds true with education and learning. Why do you think that many dental team members are required to take continuing education in order to keep their dental licenses? What they learned in dental school is not enough to get them to where the profession is today clinically or to keep them up to date on the latest developments in dentistry.

The same goes for training when someone joins the dental team. How much training does the front office team receive in order to do their jobs? Are they offered a good training program in order to teach them how the job should be done and how the office runs? Maybe they used to work in a different office that had specific ways of doing things, but unless they’re trained in an office’s ways of doing things, they may continue old and potentially bad habits. Most dental offices do not train new employees well. Instead, often the office manager or owner simply hopes that new hires know what to do or they assume new hires will figure things out somehow.

Don't let the team burn out

Employees may star out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but like all team members, they inevitably lose some of that excitement and motivation over time. Working in a dental office can be stressful, and that stress can wear someone down. The front office team deals with insurance companies that beat them up over fees and codes. They have patients telling them how awful it is to come to the dentist. There are times when an unexpected balance can result in an upset patient, who may take it out on the team member. If all of this turns a motivated team member into a less than excited person, they will start finding shortcuts for routine tasks and forgetting some of the good habits that they developed.

Also, just like dental procedures and technologies grow and change, so do all of the other aspects of the industry. There are regular changes with insurance billing and codes, and many offices have even added medical billing to the mix. The software and technology a team uses is always changing and improving, and they have to stay up to date with it or risk getting left in the dust. Life does not stay the same, and employees cannot stay the same, either.

Consider all of the things that are changing or weighing down employees. If those are not addressed on a regular basis, employees will get beaten down over time. By offering continuous training, employees feel supported. They know that their role is important and that the dentist-owner values them enough to make sure they know the latest.

There is a need for strong onboarding training as well as continual training for the entire dental team, not just the clinicians. The dentistry is one small part of all that happens in the dental office, so everyone should be continuously growing and improving. Employees need to be trained correctly from their very first day if the goal is to have a productive team with low turnover. Onboarding employees the right or wrong way often determines their long-term happiness and employment.

Continual training helps employees do their jobs better, faster, and more efficiently. When someone first trains in their position, they’re often overwhelmed and trying to comprehend as much as possible. The focus is on understanding the foundation of the job role and how they fit into the office. Once employees figure out the basics, continual training will help them thrive. At this point, they’re not just keeping their head above water but have become a team member who’s able to help the office move toward long-term goals and thrive.

Remember, as employees feel the pressure of the everyday stuff in the office, they can fight off the pressure by remembering their why” and refocusing on patient care. Providing continual training for the team will lead not only to happy patients but also to an awesome team that is loyal to the practice and dedicated to staying on the team for as long as possible.

Laura Hatch founded Front Office Rocks, which offers web-based, on-demand front office training for dental practices. As the leading authority on virtual dental front office training, Laura helps dental professionals who want to be better at what they do gain the training they need through online video courses, live seminars, and coaching.