Dentists get the required education from dental school to practice good dentistry, but they are required to take a certain number of continuing education credits annually to maintain their dental license. Many dentists take more CE than the minimum requirement, either because they feel the minimum is not enough each year to remain current, or because they enjoy learning and have the drive to continue their educational journey. If you work for a dentist who regularly attends courses to grow their clinical knowledge and expertise, congratulations—you work with a progressive clinician who wants to improve. As a team member, be proud to support them in their journey.
As dentists cultivate their clinical skills, their desire to implement what they have learned translates to change for the office, which can be difficult for the staff to digest. With the understanding and the right support system, you can make any implementation process a positive experience for both your doctor and the team.
This process is challenging but you can do something about it.
Confusion Over Clarity
When your doctor takes courses, they intend to improve both clinical knowledge and their ability to help your patients. Considering the complexity of the human body and science, the knowledge they garner is not always easy to comprehend immediately. They are challenging their own comfort levels and previous education. As they sit in a classroom listening to the presenter, it can be exciting for them to consider how these changes could positively impact their work and the way the office is run.
However, the improvement process affects the entire team, and that can be difficult. Things aren’t always as simple as they seem in the classroom when they bring it back to the practice and implement it in real time. It may take them more than one course to achieve the level of understanding they need to be comfortable to use a new skill on their own patients. This means a slow adjustment for the office as changes are implemented over time.
It takes the entire team to help your doctor in the process of implementing change. Many times, this evolution will change the way the doctor approaches treatment planning or does certain procedures, and it may slow them down while they process what they’ve learned. If the team prevents change and pushes back to keep everything status quo, eventually the dentist may go back to the old way because the new way is just too much work. The decision to digress and not push ahead would be to the detriment of the practice and the ability of the office to thrive using cutting edge knowledge and procedures.
Support the doctor during the learning and implementation process. Show support and schedule a staff meeting so the doctor can explain what they learned and how it will help better serve patients. It is helpful for the doctor or office manager to facilitate a conversation about potential challenges to implementing change in the practice, how the status quo will change, and what support the staff can give along the way. Create an environment where everyone knows what to expect and what role they play in a smooth transition.
“Shiny New Toy” Syndrome
Oftentimes, doctors will attend a course or a conference and come home with a shiny new toy they bought, or a procedure they studied and want to immediately use it in the practice. While at the conference, the equipment they bought or the procedure they learned felt exciting and made sense clinically to implement in the practice, but they may not have considered the logistics of how to make it all come together as a team. When this happens, the shiny new toy ends up on a shelf in the back (or the new procedure is completely forgotten). After a few times, the team will assume that no new equipment or procedure will ever actually be implemented, so they tune out the doctor’s excitement about it and wait for it to inevitably get shelved.
This happens for two reasons.
The doctor has no plan for implementation and the team has a resistant or unmotivated attitude toward implementing anything new or different. Both obstacles can be addressed by the team to support implementation of new equipment and ideas.
Supporting implementation begins by identifying how the new equipment or idea will affect the way things are currently done in the office. A discussion with the doctor about how this product or procedure will be implemented is needed before moving ahead. How will everyone learn their role? How long will it take for the team to get it into everyday use? How do you move from the current way to the new way, what steps are taken along the way?
The right attitude is very important when implementing something new. When the team has not been trained, resistance will be high, and lack of enthusiasm will reign. No one in the office will feel the same excitement the doctor does, so it will just seem like something more they have to add to their day—in other words, a nuisance. It’s vital to discuss with the team the importance of having the right attitude and being willing to help however necessary to make this work. Remind them that implementing positive change is good for the long-term sustainability of the office and allows the team to provide the best possible care for their patients.
It’s inevitable - some people just don’t like change, especially when they don’t understand it. When the team understands that the change is not just the doctor’s whim but will help patients and the office, they will get on board and become supportive. Recognize that your doctor wants to grow and learn, then challenge your team to support that growth with the goal of providing better service your patients.
Want more guidance, tools and tips to successfully implement change in your office and elevate customer service? Front Office Rocks has you covered! You’ll find what you need to create an environment open to change and how to identify the stop gaps in implementation in your office.