Have you ever heard the words, “No one ever taught me that?” I can’t count how many times I have. Coming from the trainer’s perspective, it is difficult to first, translate all your dental knowledge in one training session and second, hold the trainee accountable when the information being taught is not on paper. It becomes a game of "he said she said", which tends to not be very efficient when trying to run a successful practice. I wouldn’t say the trainee is exactly lying when they use the line, “No one ever taught me that,” because it is very easy to forget information in your first week of training. Most learners have to hear the same information 3 times, if not more, to really retain the knowledge. Often times, information gets missed by the trainer and the trainee when you don’t have a systematic way of training each new hire. It becomes very difficult not only on the owner, but also the staff when the information provided to the trainee is not documented.
Let’s start with the owner’s perspective of training. Being a practice owner and a doctor keeps you very occupied. It is very difficult to know what is going on in your front office when you are in the treatment room all day providing services to patients. By the end of the day you are exhausted, most of the staff are already gone, you most likely have to finish your notes, catch up on any emails from that day, sort through any mail that may be on your desk, return any left messages, pay bills, and maybe balance out the end of the day if someone is not doing it for you. It is very difficult to find out the status of your administrative staff’s knowledge and whether or not they are doing the tasks they are hired to do. For a doctor, you can’t truly hold your staff accountable for any mistakes if they say, “No one ever taught me that,” since you do not have true documentation to go back and say, “Yes, I did.” Most times, the doctor is putting blind trust into their staff, only to find out later that jobs are being done incorrectly, when the schedule gets lighter and the production decreases. By that time, it is much more difficult to bring the practice back up to where it needs to be. Putting a systematic training into place and having a way to monitor your staff’s progress is crucial when onboarding a new employee. It allows the doctor to hold their staff accountable without spending hours trying to figure out why production has decreased. This is not only unfair to the doctor, but also the patients. Running a successful dental practice requires happy patients, which will stem from the quality of care they receive.
Lastly, I want to look at the trainee’s perspective. The dental industry has endless amounts of information to learn and it is always evolving. Starting a new job can be nerve racking by itself itself, but starting a job and not receiving the right knowledge to do the job correctly is even scarier. When the trainee is not receiving the information orderly, training becomes very confusing. Information begins to not translate correctly, and they do not see the big picture of running a dental office. Whenever crucial information gets miscommunicated, errors start to arise. Not only does this hurt the practice and the patient, but the staff member as well. It is embarrassing making a mistake in front of a patient and they believe that you do not know how to do your job. This reflects poorly on the practice and it decreases your energy for the day. When mistakes start to arise, the owner is not pleased when they find out. It truly might be an error based on never receiving the information, or the person who trained you is no longer there to answer your questions. If the trainee does not have information to go back and reference, that knowledge is lost. Most employees will leave a job due to improper training simply because they don’t know how to do their job, they are tired of making mistakes, they don’t want to look incompetent, and they do not want to continue to be told they are doing their job incorrectly. This in return leads to high employee turnover which will cost the practice and make it very difficult to keep a stable environment within the office.
For the sake of your staff, your patients, and yourself, finding a systematic way to train your staff will alleviate a lot of headaches in the future. This will provide every employee with the same knowledge for years to come. You won’t have to worry about one staff member leaving with all the knowledge that helps run your dental practice and you will not have to worry about your staff saying, “No one ever taught me that.”