Tips for Hiring New Staff Members

You’re busy, you’re stressed and now you must dedicate time to hiring new staff to fill in the gaps left during your dental practice transition. So where do you start? There may be a great temptation to hire the first person who looks like he or she might fit the bill, but if you make a mistake, it’s going to cost you.

Prepare Yourself

No matter how excited or relieved you may feel, jumping into your new recruitment exercise without any thought will just hurt you in the long run. Ask yourself these important questions before you even place your first recruitment ad:

– What role will the new hire fill in the practice?

– How much help does the practice need?

– Will this need be long term or short term?

– What salary can you afford to pay?

Focus on Strategic Recruitment

You don’t want to hire the first person who comes along, you want to hire the best recruit for your practice. But how do you find the right candidate? It might sound obvious but start in places that offer the most help. Ask other employees for referrals, you’ve got the best chance of making a quality match through your current staff.

If that doesn’t work, check reputable job boards before branching out into social media.

Take Your Time

Sure, you might have needed the help three weeks ago, but making a rushed decision could mean hiring the wrong person and upsetting the well thought-out dynamic of your practice.

Go through the right procedures to ensure you attract the right recruit: conduct first and second interviews, conduct the relevant background checks, and make sure your next recruit is in it for the long haul.

Be Ready

On-boarding a new employee takes up precious time and effort. But if you’re not ready, it will waste even more of your precious time. Make sure you can tick all the boxes on this check-list:

– Is the new hire’s work-station ready?

– Do you have a standard operating procedures document for the tasks the new hire will complete?

– Have you introduced the new person to the rest of the team?

– Have you written out the new employee’s job description?

– Have you assigned another employee to assist the new hire?

Maintain realistic expectations for your new hires, and make it as easy as possible for the new person to ease into their new role.

Don’t Be Afraid to Let Someone Go

If a new person doesn’t perform well, don’t be afraid to fire them. You can’t afford to keep someone on board if he or she is not performing. Not only that, but what you let new employees get away with will be seen by the rest of the team. If it’s not working out, don’t keep the person on.

Building a quality team in your dental practice is crucial to your success.

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Creating a Respectful Work Environment

Respect is part of the glue that holds your dental practice team together, and if your team isn’t feeling respected by their employer, it’s likely that they won’t be dishing it out, either. Let’s take a look at why respect is such an important core value in your practice and how you can cultivate it.

Respect Starts With You

Respect starts at the top, and the best way to earn an employee’s respect is to pay it forward. As a practice owner, you get to make most of the rules, as well as set the stage in terms of the conduct you want your employees to follow in your practice.

Choose your language wisely; encouraging and honest talk is more successful than implementing autocratic policies that don’t give staff members a voice. Make an open space for discussions and let your staff know that you welcome their suggestions about making the practice a more productive space. Be explicit with each staff member about what is required by them in terms of key performance areas.

Hold regular performance reviews where you give positive feedback on successes and suggestions for improvement in areas of weakness. Recognize and reward good accomplishments and encourage your staff to keep raising the bar.

Watch your mood. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day stressors of running a practice or to be distracted by what the day holds. Work to stay positive and it will trickle down to your employees too. 

Respect Is Nurtured

Employees who feel respected will treat others with respect, resulting in a comfortable environment for everyone. Your management style will permeate every department, so a respectful tone will benefit and rub off on everyone who works with you.

Respecting Patients 

If your receptionist is stressed out, or your dental nurse is undervalued and overworked, your patients will feel the brunt of it. Your patients do not want to visit a practice where they feel like a number, or where making an appointment is a major effort on behalf of the receptionist. If patients are treated with respect and gratitude, they will feel the intent.

Respect for patients extends to those in the waiting room and those on the telephone, and even though the patient standing in front of the receptionist should always take priority, the way you handle your telephonic inquiries says a lot to the patients sitting in your waiting room.

Express Gratitude

Gratitude goes a long way in conveying and cultivating respect. Thank every staff member and every patient when you have the chance. You can never thank someone too much; those two words will make a major difference in the lives of everyone you meet.

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Dealing with Medical Emergencies in the Dental Office

A medical emergency is one event that dental practices should be prepared for, and the level of preparation determines whether the emergency is handled successfully or not. In this article, we will examine how to develop a plan for handling a medical emergency, and which medical emergencies are most commonly experienced in the dental office.

How Does It Start?

More often than not a medical emergency starts off like any other dental appointment. It doesn’t have to be a new patient either; it’s highly likely that an existing patient you have treated for many years may present a problem. The scenario could play out like this: you administer a dose of local anesthesia and leave the patient with your assistance. When you return he doesn’t experience any numbness so you administer another dose. The next thing you know, your patient is clutching at his chest before becoming unresponsive.

Believe it or not, this scenario has a very real chance of happening. In fact, medical emergencies are 5.8 times more likely to take place in a dental environment than a medical one.

What Are the Most Common Medical Emergencies You Can Expect?

While an emergency could arise from almost anything, statistically these are the emergencies most likely to occur:

  • Adverse reactions to drugs
  • Changed mental status
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Diabetes complications
  • Seizures
  • Cardiopulmonary arrest

Statistically, tooth extractions carry the highest element of risk, followed by pulpal extractions.

So How Do You Prepare Yourself?

The three cardinal rules involve having:

  • The right tools
  • Adequate training
  • Enough practice

The American Dental Association stipulates that dentists and all practice staff members have the right training to deal with any emergencies that may arise in the dental chair and every dental practice should have a plan to deal with medical emergencies.

Step One: Assess

In a medical situation, your first step is to assess it. Is the patient breathing and does he or she have a pulse? Once you have determined an emergency is taking place, you need to call for medical transport and begin treating the patient with the appropriate tools.

Step Two: The Tools

Your emergency medical kit needs to be pre-assembled and kept in a place where everyone in the practice may access it quickly. The essential tools are:

  • Positive pressure or supplemental oxygen
  • Epinephrine to restore cardiac rhythm
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Glucose
  • Benadryl or diphenhydramine
  • Albuterol
  • Aspirin

Optional extras for your medical emergency kit include:

  • An automated external defibrillator
  • Nitrous oxide

Medical Emergency Training Sessions

It is highly recommended that your entire team has BLS (Basic Life Support) and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) training. A well-trained team has more confidence and skills available to handle any medical emergency.

Some pointers to enhance your medical training include:

– Hold training sessions in your practice.

– Practice your medical emergency response with your employees, using your own equipment.

In addition to practicing your responses every six months, you should have a written plan on hand to inform all staff members of standard operating procedures to follow during a medical emergency.

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Celebrating the Holiday Season in Your Dental Practice

December offers up many reasons to celebrate the Holidays and it doesn’t really matter what your personal beliefs are; the festive season presents a wonderful opportunity for you to engage with your patients, and attract new ones. The rule of thumb here is to tie your messaging in with seasonality, weather or holiday celebrations.

Show You’ve Got the Spirit

Brighten up your practice with some low-key decorations such as lights or snow on the windows. Perhaps hang Christmas bulbs or snowflakes from the ceiling.
If you usually play music in the practice you might want to swap it for something a little more festive.

Give the Gift of Good Dental Hygiene

The festive season offers many relevant topics you can use to inform and educate your patients—and, of course, write about topics that matter to them. While many patients will be worried about their expanding waistlines over the holiday season, it’s a good idea to remind them about the dangers of sugar to their teeth.

Offer up sugar-free alternatives to tasty festive recipes or eating and chewing tips to minimize sugar damage to the teeth. Encourage year-end appointments before your practice closes for December so your patients can have cavities addressed before the end of year binge.

Send out a holiday newsletter full of useful information so you stay top of mind while your patients are away.

To Gift or Not to Gift?

If 2016 has been a good year for business, you may want to gift your patients. Gifting is a good way to thank your patients for their support during the year, but if you decide to do this remember to keep the gifts simple and be sure to give one to everyone.

If you want to make more of an impact on your community, consider taking the money you would have used to buy gifts and support a local charity with presents or a donation.

Put a Christmas tree up in your reception and ask patients to donate any new or used toys they want to get rid of. You can donate these toys to a children’s charity and make someone’s holiday season extra special.

Communicate Your Opening and Closing Times

If you are closing at all during the festive season, November is a good time to advise your clients. This gives everyone time to plan their end-of-year check ups. Also remind your patients to use their dental benefits up before they expire.

Remember to include a backup number for emergencies. You might be taking your first vacation in a very long time because you’re always around for your patients. But, if someone does have an emergency and doesn’t know who to turn to, you could very well end up losing the patient to another dentist.

Make sure your backup dentist is reliable and prepared to be contacted by your patients.

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Mistakes for Dentists to Avoid When Considering Retirement

In 2014, the average dental salary was $166,000, making it one of the top ten earning professions in the country. Those statistics mean that dentists have a great base when it comes to planning for retirement. However, as with any entrepreneur, owning a practice usually means you have a large list of tasks and priorities that you need to address on a daily basis.

It may have been your dream to sell your practice and move to another country to live out the rest of your days, but if you haven’t got all your affairs in order, the dream can quickly become very stressful.

Here are some mistakes to avoid when planning for retirement

Not Setting Clear Goals

A successful retirement requires you to establish concrete goals. Do you want to buy a house by the beach? Do you want to pass on $20,000 to each of your children? At what age do you want to stop working completely? Do you want to travel? These are all important questions to ask when setting goals.

Make sure you have a detailed plan in play in order to ensure that your transition into retirement is as stress-free as possible.

Not Investing Outside the Practice

A lot of dentists spend their time re-investing everything they earn into a practice for years in order to ensure growth, but it’s important to consider other means of income. If you haven’t done so already, setting up an automated savings program is important to consider when you’re planning for retirement. Remember that the earlier you start saving the better, as it takes years for compound interest to provide rewards.

Not Handling Your Debt Before Retiring

When you run a busy practice it’s easy to fall into the habit of avoiding or overlooking pressing debt issues. This, however, is a huge pitfall. Make sure all your personal debts are taken care of before you consider retirement, whether they are related to the business, your property or vehicles.

Spending Too Much

Earning a comfortable living as a young dentist can create some unhealthy spending habits. Over time you may chip away at your income and end up with a lot less money for retirement than you otherwise would have expected. Habits are very difficult to break, so the sooner you get started making sure all your spending is in check, the better.

Consider hiring a transition expert to help prepare you and your practice for retirement.

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Top 5 Qualities to Look for When Hiring an Office Manger

When recruiting an office manager, you’ll need to make sure your new hire has skills including initiative, character, experience, communication and a positive attitude. Making sure you hire based on these traits will put your dental practice and staff on the road to success.

A Healthy Attitude

When the going gets tough, it helps to have someone with a balanced and healthy attitude leading your team. When a patient has a toothache and a low pain tolerance, it’s common that his or her mood may be affected, which can lead to communication struggles between your practice and the patient. Having an office manager that can deal with difficult patients on a regular basis is the difference between a successful practice and one that lags behind the competition.

Taking Initiative Is Part of The Job

Initiative is what will move your practice forward. Sure, you need someone diligent who will dot the i’s and cross the t’s but your practice requires more. An office manager who is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty and do his or her job without your constant direction, can take the weight off your shoulders.

A Hardy Character

Hire a manager with a resilient character who is able to work with difficult patients and vendors.

Employ an office manager with a tough character who won’t go to pieces every time someone complains or who isn’t easily overwhelmed when the phone rings off the hook. Check out the recruits’ EQ before hiring and you’ll spare yourself many headaches in the process.

Experience is Critical

Your dental practice manager is essentially the face of your business, and if that person is inexperienced, it will show. What kind of experience are we talking about? The answer is varied experience, which ranges from your practice management software, finances, and patient records.

It All Starts with Effective Communication

A good dental practice exhibits effective communication, and before you can convey this to the patients, it has to take place internally. An effective office manager can use his or her discretion to gauge which incidents need to be conveyed to you and which can be handled without sounding the alarm.

Of course, for this decision-making to take place it helps if your new office manager is empowered and knows where they stand with you and your dental practice.

Once you’ve decided which traits are most important to you and your practice, structure your interviews so your candidates can effectively demonstrate their capabilities. Ask how they would perform in certain situations and make your hiring decisions based on their answers.

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Maintaining a Healthy Work-Life Balance for Dental Professionals

There’s a lot more to life than dentistry. Even though your profession may take up most of your time, it’s important to note that sustained, long term stress is bad for your health and your personal life. Making small changes now can lead to a better experience and a healthier work/life balance.

If you’re a hard-working dentist who’s used to burning the candle at both ends, just how do you take a break and get away from it all?

Figure Out What You Enjoy

If this is the first time you’ve heard about the importance of maintaining a work/life balance, chances are you might need to spend a little extra time figuring out what drives you. What do you enjoy doing? What relaxes you? This is the first step to planning the life you want to live.

Whether you need to start a new hobby or rekindle a leisurely past time you haven’t explored in a while, make the time and space for it in your schedule.

Start off by introducing your hobbies or interests two to three times a week. Whether it’s going to the gym, spending time with friends, or booking a date night, give yourself a chance to make time for your interests outside of your practice.

Plan Your Vacations in Advance

Yes, you read that right. As well as giving you something to look forward to in the year ahead, booking your vacations in advance ensure that you will actually go. If you wait around for your schedule to clear, you’ll never get away. Your vacation days will pile up, get dusty, and your work and home life will suffer.

The good news is that studies show it doesn’t matter if you go away for six long weekends or one two day break, it’s getting away that will make the biggest difference to your body, mind, and soul.

Innovate Better

Don’t have an extra four hours a week to lead a balanced life? Optimize your time better. What does that mean? Well, if riding your bike just can’t fit into your schedule, consider riding to work. Or, get an exercise bike to use at home while you watch your favorite TV show. Sure, you might not be training for a triathlon this year, but it’s infinitely better than doing nothing at all.

Open Your Mind

Don’t have hobbies or interests? Not interested in anything other than your profession? Don’t worry, here are some ideas just for you:

Travel more. Travel has unintended benefits for dental professionals. Because we work in a multicultural society any kind of travel or learning about other cultures offers a beneficial experience.

Listen to music or better yet, learn to play music. Why? Well music has been proven to improve sequential skills development and memory.

Art and drawing have been shown to improve memory, concentration, and attention to detail.

Playing sports is physically beneficial in terms of stress management and can also improve hand eye coordination. There’s also a recreational and social element if you choose to participate in extracurricular activities with friends or colleagues.

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How to Make Your Office a Positive Workplace for Your Employees

“Teamwork makes the dream work,” but how can a leader influence their environment so that it’s an optimal workspace for others? What’s important to remember is that if you cannot build a positive practice and give your patients a positive first experience, you may quickly lose them to your competitors.

A negative practice atmosphere may include a high staff turnover, personal conflict and even a higher incidence of illness. Your employees are your link to your patients and any cracks in your team will be obvious to those who visit.

However, if you can maintain a positive climate in your office, your practice is more likely to flourish. Here a few tips for keeping the atmosphere in your practice on the right track:

Encourage Career Building

There’s a big difference between having a job and building a career, and if you want your employees to be engaged in their work, helping them pave a career is a great way to keep your team moving forward. Show your team the vision you have for the business and keep them informed of any upcoming changes. By keeping your team in the loop, you give them the opportunity to align their personal goals with your expectations.

Lead by Example

Perhaps it goes without saying, but we’ll say it just to be sure: be the change you want to see in your practice. Your team is an extension of you and if you lead in a positive and strong manner, your team will follow your example. The impression you make on your team is a lasting one, so make it a good one. The example you create contributes to the culture you grow in your practice.

Your company culture influences the attitudes of your staff and their behavior. It also affects the harmony of the team, the type of employees you attract, and the levels of stress present in your practice.

Involve Your Employees

One of the tenets of a positive workplace is employee engagement and involvement. For this to happen, the practice owner needs clear and direct communication channels with all employees. Yes, your dental practice staff need to know what their roles and responsibilities are, but more than that, they need to be involved in the bigger picture. They need autonomy in their jobs and the ability to make decisions based on the practice philosophy.

Show Your Appreciation

Paying a regular salary to your employees is the minimum you can do as a leader and practice owner. If you want to engage your employees and make them feel valued, you need to show your appreciation.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Give a note that says how much you appreciate the effort or extra input provided by an employee. Stop by a co-worker’s office to let him or her know how much you appreciate their input and involvement.
  1. Send a small gift to single out someone who has gone the extra mile for the practice. Be sure to let others in the practice know the reason for the gift and that they, too, can earn one. Showing favoritism is not encouraged, but having a special gift as in incentive is a good idea.
  1. Provide a structured bonus and raise plan for your employees based on their performance. Maintaining quarterly reviews for your staff allows you to engage them on a one-on-one basis.

Having a positive attitude, clear objectives, and excellent leadership skills will help you build an exemplary practice that both patients and staff will love.

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Explaining the Dangers of E-Cigarettes to Your Patients

In the last ten years, the use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed.

One argument against these devices is that although they were created with the intention of weaning smokers off cigarettes, they may now have the adverse effect of introducing teenagers to smoking, acting as a kind of ‘gateway drug.’

Various studies have recently emerged to suggest that e-cigarettes may have negative impacts on our dental health too.

As a dentist, you need to offer your patients value. This means providing them advice on how to maintain dental hygiene both inside and outside of the office.

E-cigarettes may be better than traditional cigarettes if you compare overall dental health outcomes, however, educating your patients as to the real risks of e-cigarettes is a responsibility that you have as a dentist.

Here are some of the findings that you need to know.

  1. They cause damage to gum tissue

A study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center found that e-cigarettes can damage gum tissue just like conventional cigarettes.

“We showed that when the vapor from an e-cigarette is burned, it causes cells to release inflammatory proteins, which in turn aggravate stress within cells, resulting in damage that could lead to various oral diseases,” said Irfan Rahman, lead author of the study.

  1. They inhibit the body’s ability to produce saliva

One symptom that e-cigarettes appear to share with traditional cigarettes is that the nicotine inhibits the body’s ability to produce saliva. The result is that you can become susceptible to bacteria and build up, as well as other negative outcomes such as dry mouth and tooth decay.

  1. They lower immune defense and alter gene expression

One study out of the University of North Carolina found that e-cigarette use altered hundreds of genes, some of which were the same ones that are suppressed by smoking.

“We honestly do no yet know what long-term effects e-cigarettes might have on health,” said Ilona Jaspers, lead author of the study. “I suspect that the effects of e-cigarettes will not be the same as the effects of cigarette smoking,” she continued.

  1. They may be harmful to lung health

Research out of the American Thoracic Society (ATS) found that e-cigarette use was related to a range of respiratory symptoms. Included among these was the exacerbation of asthma.

Whether you are looking to hold on to your practice for a while or sell in the near future, educating your patients on dangers of e-cigarettes adds value to your practice and is always worth the extra effort.

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Dos and Don’ts for Blogging

Ten years ago, a dentist could have been forgiven for questioning the validity of blogging and social media. Today, however, these channels have become essential tools for any dental professional hoping to add value to their practice.

A dentist with an active online presence shows that he or she cares about educating his or her patients. Blogging also helps establish professional credibility and can improve your status as an industry leader. Maintaining a blog, with relevant keywords also has the power to boost SEO rankings and keep your website at the top of Google, which can lead to increased online visibility and in turn, more clients.

So, how do you get started blogging and what components of a blog can help or hurt your practice? Here are a few Dos and Don’ts to consider when adding a blog to your website: 

  1. DO Know Your Target Audience

Establish the type of patient you want to attract to your practice. Focusing on your specialty can help you to further understand your clientele. Once you have identified your audience, write content that speaks to their interests and needs.

  1. DO Invest Time Developing High-Quality Content

A patient could probably find a dozen articles online regarding dental implants and the importance of good dental hygiene, but what do you have to offer that is unique to your target audience and its needs?

Blogging is an effective way to circulate informative and interesting content that your audience will care about, which can lead to higher engagement and potential clients. Consider your strengths and feature content that showcases what makes you different from other dentists. We recommend offering your readers a level of information that they’d be unlikely to find elsewhere; in a language they can understand.

  1. DO Participate and Listen

Are you experiencing commonalities in the problems your patients are facing? Could a single blog post help more than one patient?

Use any feedback you receive from your patients, and let it inform the topics you cover on your blog. Let the chair-side manner you’ve worked so hard to cultivate over the years shine through in your writing. Utilize friendly language when speaking to your audience.

Listening, responding, and considering feedback is an essential component of building any great business. Make sure you follow, read, share and comment on any content written by your peers.

  1. DON’T Forget to Use Your Own Words

Don’t make use of trademarked or copyrighted information without a citation of the author’s permission.

  1. DON’T Infringe on Patient Confidentiality

While it can be effective to showcase studies and examples of your work, remember not to post anything about a patient or employee without their written consent in the form of a signed waiver. This includes photographs, radiographs and even testimonials.

  1. DON’T Post Graphic Images

While images can add to your blog posts, make sure they do not depict overly graphic material. You don’t want to scare patients away.

  1. DON’T Forget to Share Your Content on Social Media Channels

Blogging provides SEO value for your website but your articles can reach a wider audience if you share them on your social media channels too.

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