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Thursday Troubleshooter: Dental assistant refused raise promised when she earned her RDA

Nov. 9, 2017
This dental assistant worked hard to earn her RDA. The practice told her she would receive a raise for her new credentials. They not only refused the raise, they bullied her as well. What can she do?

Nearly everyone has problems and concerns on the job, and sometimes you're just too close to a situation to solve something yourself. Share your concerns with Team Troubleshooter, and the experts will examine the issues and provide guidance. Send questions to [email protected].


QUESTION: I just acquired my RDA this year. I was told by the practice where I work that once I earned my RDA I would receive a pay raise. I turned in my new license and asked when I would be receiving my pay raise. I was informed I would need to wait a year, and the person who told me was not very nice about it and actually bullied me. There is another DA in the office who makes the same salary as me. I know this because we were hired at the same time at the same pay. I do way more than the other DA, I earned my license, and now I’m not get paid for my efforts. What actions should I take?

ANSWER FROM KEVIN HENRY, cofounder of IgniteDA:
I’m sorry to hear you’re having these problems. It’s frustrating when you think you’ve done what you’re supposed to do and then the rules of the game change.

This sounds like it’s going to take a very tough conversation to bring some closure, but without a conversation, nothing will change. If you were told to accomplish a goal and then you would be rewarded, a conversation needs to happen about why that didn’t happen. That’s the main question here. Sit down with the dentist or office manager or whoever told you that and ask what changed and why. It won’t be easy but it has to be done sooner rather than later.

The most concerning thing to me in your entire question is the part about being bullied. There is never a reason that should happen in any setting and at any age. While I may not know the entire extent of what “bullying” may entail in your practice, I do know that it is never OK for that to happen. This also needs to be a part of your conversation.

I am a firm believer that, when there is drama in a practice, the patients can sense it. If you think of your practice like a business, then your customers are walking into a place of business and sensing something isn’t right. If this is happening, then your customers may not return. If you walked into a restaurant and you could tell there were problems between the wait staff and chef, would you be comfortable eating your meal or going back there again? There are plenty of dental practices out there that are drama-free (no really, there are, I swear). Your customers will find them if they’re not comfortable in your place of business. Trust me, I did. I left a dental practice because of an argument that happened between the dentist and assistant right in front of me.

You have the opportunity to sit down and have a discussion in a business setting. You, as an employee, can say that bullying and empty promises are not good for any business, and that your customers will be able to tell something isn’t right. That should be something no one in the business wants to have happen.

If you have the conversation and nothing changes, then it’s time to find somewhere else to work. Life is too short to be unhappy, or bullied, or promised things that never come true. With your new credentials, you have the opportunity to find a practice where you can grow and prosper rather than struggle to get through the day with all of these things hanging over your head.

Your business should be about providing the best patient care and being a place where all employees feel valued and want to contribute to the success of the business. If you have a talk and nothing changes, it’s a pretty clear sign that your priorities and the priorities of others in the practice may not be in line. If that’s the case, find somewhere else where things align and you are valued rather than treated poorly. Good luck!

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About the Author

Team Troubleshooter

This weekly column on DentistryIQ features questions from everyday people who work in dental practices, who have issues they would like addressed by the experts. Those who regularly take the time to answer questions include Rebecca Boartfield, Patti DiGangi, Dr. Chris Salierno, Laura Hatch, Karen Daw, Jill Townsend, Lisa Marie Spradley, Shelley Renee, Judy Kay Mausolf, Robin Morrison, Paul Edwards ... and the list is growing.

Send your question or issue for an expert to address to [email protected].. You'll be glad you did.