Time Management When Working in Multiple Dental Offices

Many dentists are now expanding their dental practices and employing associate dentists so that there are 2 or more offices under the same management. Some practices are more like business chains, with branch offices found in multiple cities. Because of this, they are able to offer lower, competitive fees that drive in new dental patients from all of the surrounding areas. Branch practices work well when different neighborhoods are trying to be served, or a certain type of patient sought out. While managing multiple dental practices can be a rewarding experience, it can also cause job related stress. It’s important to know how to manage your time and stress, so that your energy is well spent on your career and personal life.

Keeping a Schedule

Although it can be difficult to manage time when you have so many responsibilities, it is essential for your success. Write down a schedule that outlines when and where you will be on certain days of the week. Remember to be flexible should something come up last minute, but otherwise try to always abide by this schedule. Not only will you find it helpful, but the dental staff at other offices will know when and where you’re expected to be each day as well. Once you’re where you are going to be, rank your duties from which are most important to the least, and how much time is needed to complete them. Give yourself a number of minutes or hours.

Delegate

Making assignments for other dental team members will lighten some of your responsibilities. If the practices are all open during the same times, then other team members will need to know how to operate during your absence. Discuss possible situations that could come up given the patients on the schedule that day, and what they should do if a problem comes up. Don’t throw these responsibilities onto the newest team member; instead, rely on someone with a longer background and investment in the office to represent your choices if you’re gone. A dental practice management program can help train a team leader at each office to equip them with the knowledge and skill to take this type of task on.

Maintain Communication

It’s important to be accessible when you’re running an efficient dental team, even more so when you’re managing multiple offices. When someone calls or emails you, you need to be able to respond to them in a very timely manner rather than letting the messages pile up and left unanswered. A personal cellular phone works well if you’re going between several offices, so that team members never have to guess about how to get a hold of you. Don’t stress, you’ll only need to answer these calls during business hours or emergencies!

If you have confidence in your team, you’ll be able to go further and they’ll be able to succeed under your supervision. No one can afford to micromanage in this situation. When all team members have the same training, standards, policies and expectations, management will flow more smoothly. When you know where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing, you’ll be able to focus on getting the job done.

Dental Assistant Training And Programs

The main focus of this article is dental assistant training. Assistants are usually employed by most dentists today. These assistants are responsible for completing tasks that could include assisting in treatment of patients, educating patients on aftercare, lab work, or management of office duties.

Dental assistants are not licensed to perform certain procedures and treatments that either a dental hygienist or dentist are allowed to perform. Dental nurses is the name these assistants are commonly called. To become a dental nurse, the CDA (Certified Dental Assistant) exam must be passed after completion of a dental assistant training program. In order to become active for practice, all assistants must pass this four hour exam. Training programs offer many different paths for preparing for the exam.

One method is to complete a two year associates degree program through a university or community college that offers dental assistant training. To be eligible for the associates degree program, the student must have a diploma from high school or an equivalent measure. It is not required to have an associates degree before one can become an assistant. Although, having an associates degree would help tremendously for those seeking career advancement later, since most dental hygienist have a two year degree.

Vocational studies schools and technical institutes also offer one year dental courses that offer another method to becoming an assistant. This training program spends more time towards hands-on experience and in turn is usually faster paced. To enter a one year training program, one must provide a high school degree or the equivalent. This program is intended to provide a large completion rate for those looking to become dental assistants.

Although rare, in some states individuals are able to work under a dentist’s supervision and get on-the-job training in preparation for the CDA exam. This is possible because many states are able to hire individuals who are not certified in the field that they will be training towards certification at a later date (the rules and regulations vary from state to state). To be eligible to apply for certification, one must work under a licensed dentist’s supervision for two years.

The course work for dental assistant training is divided between theory courses and clinical study courses. The theory courses covered will include such classes as dental science and office procedures and fundamentals. Updating of patient’s records, equipment maintenance and taking of x-rays are all classes that would normally be offered as clinical study courses. One year technical institutes and vocational schools offering dental certificate programs will usually include classes as previously mentioned.

Most programs that offer diplomas will provide more classes that expand further into the clinical study courses. Oral anatomy, human biology, radiology, and other related subjects are many of the classes one can expect from these types of programs. These classes will allow the students to work in the field of periodontics and orthodontics.

The associates degree programs will have further classes in dental assistant training than the diploma programs offer. Health/safety classes (OSHA), dental procedures, impression making, and many other classes are to be expected in this type of dental program. In preparation for the CDA exam and a career in dentistry, the understanding and implementation of these classes are vital to the students success.

How to Establish Yourself As a Leader in Your New Dental Practice

If you have recently purchased an existing dental practice you are probably facing a number of transition challenges. Not the least of your concerns will be human resources related. If you have decided to retain members of the preexisting staff, you need to identify ways of putting their minds at ease while also establishing yourself as both a competent business manager and doctor.

Striking this balance requires both assertiveness and compassion. Often a dental staff is left ignorant of impending transitions until the sale is completed, and feel betrayed or threatened by the news. To win over your staff’s approval and consolidate their support, try implementing the following tactics:

  1. Ask for your team’s help. Including your staff will not only show your leadership but instill a sense of worth.
  2. Implement changes slowly. This allows time for the staff to acclimate to your leadership style and practice updates.
  3. Meet privately with each of your staff members. Ask them what is important to them, what they like about the practice, and what they think could help the practice improve.
  4. Develop goals together as a dental practice. This will give your staff a sense of pride and ownership.
  5. Establish well defined expectations. Your staff will appreciate knowing where you stand on management issues and respond positively to your initiative.
  6. Show the Staff You Care. Find a way to do something for each staff member that shows you genuinely care about them more than just giving them lip service. For example, offer some dental services to them or a family member.
  7. Abide by your own rules. There can be no double standards. Lead by example.
  8. Slowly adjust patient care. This gives both staff and patients time to develop trust in your capabilities.
  9. Make it about more than just money. Staff and patients alike will sense if you are only in it for the money.
  10. Keep your debt to yourself. Do not saddle your staff with excess financial information. Keep your relationship centered on practice goals.
  11. Hold routine meetings. Meet one on one frequently with your office manager and associates.
  12. Be neither a friend nor a tyrant. Find a middle ground between social acquaintance and despotic ruler. Your staff will appreciate your friendly but professional demeanor.

Demonstrating a genuine concern for the quality of care you provide your patients and establishing a professional, goal-oriented office environment will win your new team of dental health professionals approval.

Four Basic Dental Practice Sale Strategies

To identify the strategy with the best probability of meeting your expectations, you should start by addressing the following assessments:

Personal Assessment.
-Are you envisioning retirement immediately in two or more years or in the distant future?
-Do you need or desire to work in the practice after the sale?
-Would you be happy practicing with someone else in control of the practice?
-Would you be willing to give up sole autonomy for a partnership?

Practice Assessment.
-Is your facility capable of supporting an additional dentist?
-Does your practice have the ability to provide an income for you and an additional dentist?
-Will your staff be open to change and able to support an additional dentist?

Once these assessments are addressed, you can evaluate different sale strategies and initiate a systematic approach to your practice transition.

Strategy 1 – Immediate Sale: If you need or wish to complete the sale in a short time, your best option may be a straightforward strategy that will allow you to sell and exit the practice. If you determine that your practice is unable to support more than one dentist’s income, this may be the only viable option. In this scenario, you would work until you are ready to retire, sell the practice, continue practicing on a very limited basis for a short transition period, and then exit the practice. This is the most commonly used practice sale strategy because it suits the majority of practices.

Strategy 2 – Delayed Complete Sale: If your anticipated retirement horizon is two or more years out, this type of sale may be an appropriate choice. In this scenario, the associate/purchaser and owner/seller agree that the sale of the practice will occur at a predetermined date in the future after an association period. This option is ideal for a practice owner with a larger practice who is not yet ready to retire, but wishes to slow down. This gives the associate/purchaser – who is not yet prepared to manage a large practice – two or more years with the practice to become management-ready. The buy-out mechanism should be clearly documented when the association is initiated. The practice income and facility must be adequate to support both dentists. The selling dentist retains control of personal production and management until the sale is complete, and then retires at the time of the sale unless he or she is remaining on as an associate.

Strategy 3 – Delayed Fractional Sale: If your antici-pated retirement horizon is in the distant future, you may want to consider a fractional sale. In this scenario, a fractional part of the practice is sold to an associate after two to three years of employment, creating a partnership. The goal is to enjoy the benefits of a multi-doctor practice over an extended period of time, with a predetermined buy-sell agreement in place. This form of practice sale is complex and requires detailed planning and documentation. The practice income and facility must be capable of supporting both dentists throughout the association and partnership for this strategy to be successful.

Strategy 4 – Merger Sale: In certain situations, a merger sale may be an excellent option. In this scenario, one existing practice purchases another practice in close proximity, merging the two into one facility and eliminating one set of fixed expenses. The purchasing practice’s net income should increase significantly, allowing the purchasing dentist the flexibility to retain the selling dentist as an associate if this is mutually agreeable.

These strategies work very well given proper planning and structure. Professional advice should be sought from an experienced transition consultant. Exiting your practice is an important professional and personal passage, and proper planning is a wise investment.

How to Manage Dental Cost Wisely

Nowadays, in United States, dental healthcare cost is increasing in line with the general healthcare expenses. Due to this reason, many people try to avoid getting dental treatments as they can’t really afford to pay. Frankly speaking, having oral health problems is always a bad experience as it is indeed suffering. At the same time, maintaining good condition is important too as it affects our physical look.

What can be done when dental cost is unbearable? Here are some tips which allow you to manage it wisely:

  • First thing first, find out the low cost services which are available in your community. There are many organizations which you can refer to, such as the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, National Oral Health Information Clearing House, The American Dental Association, Oral Health America, etc. By referring to these organizations, you will obtain detailed information related to all types of dental assistance programs. By doing so, you are able to find out those free or low cost oral health services.
  • Besides looking for service providers, you are advised to look for dental schools too. Most of them in United States are well equipped with clinic settings and staffed by their practical students. They offer good services and treatments to people in need at a very low rate. You don’t need to worry about their quality of service as all the students who deliver treatment are supervised by experienced licensed dentists.
  • Are you looking for free coverage for your children? You are recommended to look for Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program. You will definitely get your solution there.

To sum up, looking for low cost but quality dental services is not hard. There are many sources you may refer to. By following the smart tips above, you will be able to manage the cost easily.