As a follow-up to my last post, my outreach stint in Willmar was a great experience. I was able to treat a wide range of patients and performed a few procedures under faculty direction I had not had a chance to do before.
One of my favorite parts of the clinical experience was working with an assistant. The efficiency of four-handed dentistry was a dramatic change compared to my dental school solo attempts at multi-tasking. I noticed immediately that the assistants were always busy. Whether they were setting up the cubicle, sterilizing instruments or taking inventory of supplies, they kept the office and the patient flow running smoothly. I remember reading an AGD Impact article on suggestions to prevent burnout. The article says that a dentist should spend the majority of their time with patients, so other roles and tasks must be delegated to the rest of the team. I think most of us struggle with control issues and perfectionism, so it can be hard to give up the reins on things. Given the investment we make in our education and in our practice, who can blame us for our urge to micromanage? This emphasizes the importance of hiring the right people for the job who will fit together as a dental “team.”
What traits do you suggest a dental office looks for in an assistant? How do you match an assistant’s personality with the dentist’s? What suggestions do you have for maintaining authority but still being friends with your employees?
Now that I am back at school, I am marking off my to-do list for graduation requirements. I am also preparing myself for my patient-based board exam in March. Today, you can find me in Saint Paul at “Dental Day at the Capitol,” lobbying with classmates and area dentists.
With only 79 days left until graduation, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!
Katie Divine, Minnesota ’13