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8.22.08 Issue #337 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague


Belle DuCharme CDPMA
Instructor/Consultant
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DANB Recognizes Business Manager’s Changing Role

DANB has discontinued administration of the current Certified Dental Practice Management Administrator (CDPMA) exam as of May 31, 2008, in order to evaluate the possibility of updating the exam to more accurately reflect current practice managers' responsibilities.

Excerpts from the DANB publication Certified Press, Volume 27, Issue 3, Summer 2008.

DANB is the nationally recognized premier certification and credentialing agency for dental assistants. Since 1948, the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB), a nonprofit organization, has played a vital role in the oral healthcare community. Recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA) as the national credentialing agency for dental assistants, DANB serves the public good by providing a means of identifying qualified and competent dental assistants and by measuring and promoting excellence in oral healthcare delivery. DANB exam programs are accredited by the National Commission forCertifying Agencies (NCCA) for meeting the highest standards of validity, reliability and objectivity.

Last year, in conjunction with the American Dental Assistants Association and the American Association of Dental Office Managers, DANB conducted focus groups with dental team members employed as dental office managers, many of whom held the CDPMA credential. DANB learned that the scope of the CDPMA role is expanding, with many managers entering the field with strong business backgrounds rather than dental backgrounds.

As a result of these findings, and after an analysis of CDPMA exam results, DANB determined that the current CDPMA exam content coverage might not reflect the practice of many, if not most, dental practice managers today. Therefore, the administration of the CDPMA examination will be discontinued during DANB's content validation study of this aspect of dental office practice.

The current CDPMA credential is not affected by this change. CDPMAs can still annually renew their credential by meeting DANB's recertification requirements (12 hours of continuing dental education, holding current DANB-accepted CPR certification and submitting the renewal fee). After June 1, 2008, reinstatement of a lapsed CDPMA certification will only be possible if the credential has been lapsed for less than one year.

McKenzie Management’s Advanced Training Programs have long supported the CDPMA credential and have recommended that career Dental Business Office employees prepare for and take the test. In taking the proctored CDPMA exam (prior to the decision to revamp it) the challenge for Business Managers without dental clinical background was questions concerning mounting x-rays, identifying teeth numbers and other items that only an applicant with clinical knowledge would have known how to answer. For dentists seeking someone to manage the front desk, the quest to find qualified applicants with both clinical knowledge and excellent business skills has been difficult, and for some doctors impossible. The search for applicants with polished customer service skills or applicants with business, marketing, advertising and strong computer skills to fill their front office positions became the next plausible step. Because of the dental software technology and patient education products available for staff training, many business personnel can become quite an asset without prior dental clinical knowledge.

Teaching dental terminology and dental insurance coding can occur over time, as can instruction about dental procedures and their benefits. With many dental practices today producing millions of dollars, it is poor business to employ someone as a Business Manager who does not have formal business training coupled with exceptional customer service and communication skills.

Scheduling daily for a dental practice is not about filling in lines on a page—it is about constructing a profitable and well-balanced day. Understanding overhead demands and its relationship to meeting production and collection goals is basic business knowledge that is not necessarily understood by a clinical assistant who was moved to the front office because she “knows” the patients.

McKenzie Managements Advanced Training for Dentists and their teams has always maintained high-standard course information to serve the needs of the professional business administrators of today’s dental practices. The course information is designed to teach both the Business Coordinator with a clinical background and the Business Coordinator with a formal business education how to understand the business of dentistry.

In its update, DANB has also added three Background Information questions in its 2008 national exam applications and annual Certification renewal notices. These questions are in keeping with DANB’s mission of public protection and DANB’s Code of Professional Conduct, and are in line with national trends in hiring and credentialing practices. All current DANB Certified Assistants (CDPMA also) will be asked annually to respond to these questions, which relate to prior conviction of a crime, revocation or suspension of a dental credential or a court declaration of mental incompetence. This is not a background check but not disclosing information constitutes a violation of DANB’s disciplinary policy and may lead to disciplinary action. All of these changes indicate recognition for the professional status of today’s Dental Business Coordinators and Managers.

For more information about McKenzie Management’s Advanced Training courses, email training@mckenziemgmt.com, call 1-877-777-6151 or visit our website at www.mckenziemgmt.com.
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