A tempest in a teapot

In the April issue of Dental Economics®, Dr. Paul Feuerstein described a situation familiar to all of us in his monthly technology column.

In the April issue of Dental Economics®, Dr. Paul Feuerstein described a situation familiar to all of us in his monthly technology column. He questioned what we would do if our only dental assistant called in sick, and then solved the crisis by using one of my favorite products, the Isolite. So far, so good. Dr. Paul mentioned that we could replace our missing assistant with the Isolite (www.isolitesystems.com). Some of the assistants who read DE took offense and felt that he was trying to encourage dentists to get rid of their assistants.

Nothing could be further from the truth! Dr. Paul has long been a champion of the dental assistant, and he still finds time to lecture at a junior college assisting program. He simply needed a good lead-in to this great technology solution to a common problem. He has since apologized to the ADAA, saying that the story was simply taken the wrong way. Another great example of how our choice of words sometimes communicates something that we never intended.

Actually, I am happy this happened because it proves that there are a lot of dental assistant readers out there. It also gives me an opportunity to talk about one of my favorite organizations, the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA). This is the group that officially represents dental assistants in discussions with other political groups. Even if you don’t belong, you are being represented by a group of people who are dedicated to promoting dental assistants as professionals.

I personally think that every assistant should belong to the ADAA, but I know that will never happen. However, times are changing in the dental profession. More dentists are retiring than are graduating from dental schools. Dental assistants will be assuming more duties in the future, and they will need to be trained. The ADAA offers many educational programs which will prepare assistants for the opportunities coming. I think it would be a great benefit for the dentist to pay for membership in the ADAA.

As many of you know, I have a real understanding of the value of my clinical assistants. If they don’t show up, I go home. They seem to know more about the procedures than I do - and I can’t find anything anyway - so I might as well leave. I guess you might call that job security for the assistants. I know that my assistants have established a trust relationship with most of our patients. This is extremely important to me and to the patients.

In my job, I get to speak to many dentists and assistants. I am constantly told that it takes a concentrated effort by all the staff to have a successful practice. Success does not necessarily mean being the highest producer. Success means many things to many people. In my practice, we have always strived for happiness. I feel that a successful dental practice should be fun. Nothing breaks the stress for me better than a smile or a pat on the back.

So that means that you need to turn that staff into a team. This is a group of people with a common purpose who realize that “together everyone achieves more.” This is no easy task! Everyone has to buy into the concept and then work hard to make it happen. Not everyone will participate and you may have to make some changes. This is always difficult. But I can tell you from experience that my best years in practice have been when I was able to put together a team. Everyone in your office deserves your respect and admiration! If you can’t do this, you need to make a change.

I was recently reminded by a dentist that if you want to soar with eagles, you have to surround yourself with eagles! Go for it!

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor - e-mail: joeb@pennwell.com
Toll-free phone number: (866) 274-4500

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