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  07.08.05 Issue #174

How To Improve Team Relations

Belle M. DuCharme
RDA, CDPMA. Director
The Center for
Dental Career Development

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As a Business Administrator in charge of office operations and patient relations you need to be reminded that you are not separate from the rest of the dental team. After meeting with the clinical team for the short morning huddle and even more briefly at each patient dismissal, the day goes on with little contact between doctors and clinical staff. This feeling of isolation is more noticeable as you hear laughter and the exchange of camaraderie floating up from the clinical area to the desk. As the patient is being checked out you are often reminded of your responsibilities when you hear remarks such as “Oh, this the part that really hurts, when you extract money from my wallet.” You smile and collect for services rendered.

To be part of the team is to stay connected to the team . Walk the clinical areas at least three times a day to check to see that the treatment areas are running smoothly and if there are any areas of concern voiced by dental assistants, hygienists and doctors. Make yourself visible, maintain a positive attitude toward other member's feedback and be an active listener to all that is happening .

To be an effective leader you need to “join the troops at the front line” to show your commitment to the practice. When you make yourself visible and accessible you bring cohesiveness to the team. You also learn things about the clinical area that you would not know if you never set foot there other than to inform them about a change in the schedule. Some of the observations you would make are as follows:

  • Are instruments stacking up and not being processed?
  • Are doctors or hygienists running behind due to a problem?
  • Are patients left unattended in treatment rooms for long periods of time without contact from a team member?
  • Are dental assistants educating the patients on products or services that would benefit them?
  • Are treatment rooms set up efficiently so that the doctor or assistant is not constantly up and down to get something?
  • Are labs slips filled out and signed and cases boxed up and ready for pick-up?
  • Are there cases in the lab that have not been delivered because the patient has not been scheduled?
  • Are there charts on the doctor's desk that need notes and review?
  • Is the dismissal of patients from treatment rooms to front desk smooth and efficient?
  • Are patients receiving post-op information and explanations about the next appointment?

I am not advocating abandonment of the front office area at critical times during the day. Time your “clinical walk through” between patient arrivals and patient departures. The clinical team should never feel that the Business Administrator (Office Manager) is unavailable or detached from the rest of the team. Being visible on a daily basis will eliminate this assumption and help to achieve respect from the clinical team.

Improve your business and leadership skills by joining me for customized training at THE CENTER FOR DENTAL CAREER DEVELOPMENT.

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