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7 Tips for Being a Truly Outstanding Dental Assistant

(1) Arrive for Work 15 Minutes Early.

Dental offices are hectic places and coordination is critical. By arriving 15 minutes before the start of the work day, you can discuss any special issues for the day with the dentist and your co-workers. Does Mrs. Jones, the 9am appointment, have trouble with climbing stairs? May be you can be ready to help her when she arrives. This shows you care and makes the dental office look good, making you look good.

(2) Learn to Anticipate the Day.

Before leaving for the day, check the schedule for tomorrow or 4 days from now and see what the day looks like. Do you have 3 crown inserts? Have the crowns arrived from the lab? Make sure, that everything is taken care of to ensure a smoothing running day. Perhaps the oral surgeon is running late with a particularly difficult extraction. Calling the patient scheduled next and asking them to come 15 minutes later will take pressure off the oral surgeon and avoid dealing with an annoyed patient in waiting room. Prior preparation avoids a poor performance. By anticipating the events of the day and taking action to ensure the smooth delivery of patient care, you will be the dental assistant everybody wants working for them.

(3) Dress Appropriately.

Dental offices are professional environments, so dress professionally. This means looking neat and clean. Avoid wearing sandals or any other open toed shoes. Think of the body fluids commonly found in a dental environment and you can be sure that they are on the floor. Wearing scrubs and a lab coat helps to identify you as a dental assistant and keep your street clothes clean. Many dental offices will provide scrubs and lab coats to their employees. If you are working as a temp, showing up in scrubs will almost always be fine. Many states require dental office personnel to wear a name tag identifying their first name and job function e.g. Jane, Dental Assistant. If the dental office does not provide you with one, ask or have your own made at a nearby office supply store. Dressing professionally does not mean you should wear the attire you wear to the beach, a date or on Sunday mornings. If you suspect it might not be appropriate, don’t wear it to work.

(4) Answer the Phone using a Phone Script.

Hey, watsup? This is not the way to answer the phone at a dental office. You want to project a professional image. The phone is the first point of contact for patients in about 95% of cases, so you want them to be impressed by your professional phone skills. A polite: “Thank you for calling York Dental Center, my name is Jane, how may I help you today?’ is a great way to start a patient’s interaction with your dental office. Many dental offices have phone scripts that should be used to answer the phone. Ask to see the scripts or suggest one if they do not have one.

(5) Notice when Supplies are Running Low and Inform.

Tons and tons of dental supplies are consumed by the typical dental office in a year and having a sufficient supply on hand is vital. If you notice that you are down to 9 boxes of medium unpowdered nitrile gloves and will run out in 5 days, it is time to either order more gloves or inform the dental office person tasked with this job, that more are needed soon. Most dental offices have an order list to keep track of the supplies that need to be ordered. Do not just write the items down on the list and assume that someone else will take care of it. Inform the person responsible that action is needed. This will help avoid the embarrassment of explaining why there are no gloves for your co-workers to wear.

(6) Avoid Texting, Facebooking and Twittering.

Social media have changed all our lives, however twittering about your favorite celeb or texting your friend about the latest OMG event that occurred in your life, have no place in a busy dental office. Emergencies happen to everybody. If there is a family emergency, tell your loved ones to call the dental office directly and ask to speak with you. Check your social media during your lunch time or after the workday is over. Texting while you are in the middle of a dental procedure is an excellent way to find yourself unemployed. Respect the work environment in the dental office and it will respect you.

(7) Help Out Where and When You Can

You finished early with the dental procedure and have about 20 minutes before the next patient arrives. Time to check Twitter? Time for a quick snack? Time to veg-out in the break room? No, there are always other tasks that need doing. Perhaps another member of your team is running late, offer to set-up the instruments for their next patient. Ask the front desk person if they need help confirming the next days appointments. Check the lab log to see if the crowns you need for next week are in. Dental offices are busy and there always seem to be more tasks to complete. By helping out when and where you can, you are well on your way to being a truly outstanding dental assistant.





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