Should You Be In Charge? Qualifications to Manage a Dental Practice
I have been out of the dental field for about ten years and would like to get a position as a dental office manager. Prior to my hiatus I was employed as a dental manager for ten years and thought I was a good one. Upon contacting a dental employment agency, I was told that my skills need to be updated and that the dental office has changed. What is expected from today’s dental office manager?
Today’s dental office manager needs to be savvy in ways that the old school or traditional manager never dreamed of. If you are employed in a small practice of four or less employees, your challenges will be different from those of a multi-doctor and or multi-specialty practice with ten or more employees. The skills you will need are directly related to your written job description, which was not a standard hiring policy ten years ago. For instance, if you are in charge of scheduling, insurance, financial/collection, supplies for the office and internal marketing, then you are a systems manager not a staff manager. In practices such as this, you would be accountable for your area and the other staff members would be accountable for their work habits and would answer directly to the dentist for any human resource issues.
Today’s dental office manager needs to understand the overhead of the practice and how it directly affects the profitability of the practice. Old school was to fill the schedule holes without any knowledge of whether the practice was paying its bills and growing, or in the red and shrinking. Just showing up regularly and doing your job duties as understood was enough to continue receiving a paycheck.
Analyzing practice vital signs monthly and implementing policies to improve the financial health of the practice is a requirement of a dental office manager. Today’s dental office manager must be able to produce computer reports that can provide the following:
Depending on the practice, there may also be other figures that are necessary to make sure the practice is on target for growth. It becomes imperative to be accountable for tracking vital signs on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis, to show trends to recognize successful performance by staff members and to uncover problem areas in the practice before they cause deterioration of the practice.
Managing office systems that require the cooperation of other employees may be part of the dental manager’s job. For instance, the dental manager may have to supervise the work of the scheduling coordinator, seeing that the schedule is balanced and meeting the production goal for the day. Monitoring to make sure recall systems are producing productive hygiene schedules with limited changes and failed appointments is important as well. The dental manager may also be required to become involved in follow-up on difficult customer service issues such as complaints against a staff member or doctor or unpaid billing/insurance issues.
Handling most of the human resource issues may be a large part of a dental manager’s position, as well as scheduling vacation breaks and making sure the office is covered in times of staff illness or other reasons for absence. Hiring full-time or part-time personnel and overseeing orientation and training of these new staff members ensures that fewer errors or misunderstandings occur.
Delegation of tasks to underemployed personnel to see that areas of the practice are not ignored, such as having clinical staff help with reactivation of patients in recall or in unscheduled treatment plans, is often the office manager’s responsibility. Monitoring the website and overseeing changes and updates is a new requirement to today’s dental manager, as well as seeing that updates to the computer software are made and that the rest of the team learns and implements the changes into their daily routine. Being able to email digital images and PDF files to other professionals involved in the treatment of our patients is also necessary for credibility in today’s ever changing technology.
A successful dental office manager understands all practice systems and how they are interdependent upon the viability of the practice, and can be counted on to step up to the plate and take a leadership position if necessary to move the practice in a positive direction. Want to become an exceptional dental manager? Call McKenzie Management today for information on taking our dynamic interactive course.
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