Dentists often prefer to assume that employees know what they’re doing. And who could blame them? They’re busy providing direct care to the patients. So they go along believing that the new appointment coordinator knows how to schedule correctly because she worked in a dental practice before. Yet there seems to be a proliferation of appointment blunders lately.
They assume the collections coordinator is adept at asking patients for money even though the bottom line is continually teetering between feast and famine. They assume that the business team knows how to use the computer system effectively, yet it’s always a struggle to get necessary reports. They think the hygiene department is productive because the schedule is booked out several months, but the hygienist seems to have unfilled appointments virtually every day.
Certainly, it’s much easier to assume that the daily mix-ups and frustrations are just part of life in the busy dental practice than it is to face the possibility that those inefficiencies and shortfalls are an indicator of an untrained or under-trained team. Without question, training issues present many challenges for practices. And the unfortunate reality is that the corner pet store likely invests more money teaching their employees how to sell $5 in fish food than many dentists will put into training for those team members who have direct control over tens of thousands of dollars in practice revenues.
It’s not that dentists don’t recognize the value of training. Almost without exception, every dentist will acknowledge the importance of having a trained team. But they often talk themselves out of pursuing professional training assuming that the costs are too high in both dollars and time. What’s more, they fear that freshly trained staff member will pack up and take their newly developed skills to the practice down the street. In reality, the employee that has the opportunity to improve their skills tends to be much more vested in the success of the practice.
Yet doctors convince themselves that training is really best handled internally. They will tell you about Betty and how well she trained Carol and then when Emily came along, Betty and Carol, just took her under their wing and taught her everything she needed to know, and so on. Dentists convince themselves that this “layered” approach to training is actually working. But they continue to be plagued by problems with the schedule, shortfalls in production, holes in hygiene, inconsistencies in practice revenues, and the inability to get clear reports or straight answers from the staff.
Doctor, you don’t have to tolerate the inefficiencies of a poorly trained team nor do you have to spend a fortune to fix it. Quality training is no longer synonymous with time away from the practice and major expense. Dentists, like thousands of other employers, can now send staff to school in cyberspace, saving considerable time and reducing the cost of employee instruction some 70% to 80%.
For example, The McKenzie Company’s Center for Dental Career Development, www.dentalcareerdevelop.com, recently launched an online training series specifically designed for dental business employees, clinical staff, and the dentist. The online courses, which have become an extremely popular training option for many dental teams, familiarize the staff with a few of the key practice systems.
In roughly 30 minutes, a front desk employee can point and click through a tutorial on the causes and remedies of broken appointments. She/he can review a course on reducing accounts receivables. The hygienist can click through a lesson on patient tracking. And the doctor can learn the latest on conducting salary and performance reviews. It’s the ease and affordability of training programs like these that are becoming more and more popular with dental professionals.
Although the single, biggest contributor to practice inefficiency and mismanagement has been a poorly trained team, with the multiple affordable training options available to practices today it doesn’t have to be. Stop tolerating the inefficiencies and frustrations and explore your training options in the cyber marketplace.
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