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A Well-Trained Dental Manager is Priceless

Posted Jul 11 2011 7:05pm

What if your office manager had the ability to help you manage your practice? Imagine that she could confidently and correctly handle the variety of business decisions that occur throughout your practice – from handling upset patients to making financial arrangements, to running the practice’s marketing budget and even helping negotiate new technology purchases? On top of saving you time so you can be focusing on your clinical care, what if you had an intelligent, well-trained office manager who could implement your ideas and help you to accomplish your goals – moving forward to create the practice you want to have, but never seem to have enough time to make the necessary changes?

All this and more is what you can gain for your practice when you invest in training your dental office manager. Most of the office managers I know feel that they want to do their very best for their dentist. They see the many demands on the dentist and appreciate their job – but they don’t know what to do. They don’t know how to get the training they need so they can be a real asset to their dentist. We have a perfect opportunity – a dentist that could really use some business management help and an office manager that is enthusiastic to step up.

Now, all we need is the training!

There are many benefits to investing in a training plan for your office manager:

- The dentist knows exactly what the office manager is doing and has been trained to do.

-The dentist spends time working with staff who are developing their career and contributing to the practice, rather than to the people who are causing trouble in the practice.

-The office manager knows exactly what is required in her job.

- The practice improves because the OM is focused on accomplishing the goals that benefit the office.
The dentist feels confident that he is managing his staff well.

-The OM gets used to learning from and meeting with the dentist in order to improve the practice – this sets a precedent for a long term professional relationship.

Thanks to the dentist investing his time in training – the secretary is now receiving positive reinforcement to develop her skills. She is motivated and enthusiastic about the opportunity to really help the practice. She sees firsthand that the dentist is responsible for setting the philosophy and standards for the practice in enough detail so that she can carry out the tasks. The dentist appreciates the personal time invested in learning to improve the practice – and he receives positive feedback for taking his time to clarify his expectations and guidelines in the practice. Now, we have accomplished the opposite of a ‘vicious circle’ – perhaps we could call it a “happy spiral”?

The training program should start with the basics and advance to tasks on hiring other staff, managing marketing programs, tracking statistics, etc. As the secretary and dentist continue to work together – the office manager is transforming into a real business manager. She eventually will bring ideas and programs to the meetings that the dentist never considered. She will begin to read dental journals and participate in online forums and learn about dentistry outside the walls of the practice. That will lead to even more new ideas and opportunities – and if the dentist likes the new idea the office manager presents, he already has the person in place to implement! This also takes the stress off the dentist as he feels he has another intelligent, caring person who he can bounce ideas off of and together they can start to become partners that share the burden of running the practice.

As dentistry changes, we need business professionals in practices that can successfully manage the office. These office managers play a major role in reducing overhead, evaluating dental insurance plans and managing the fast-changing world of marketing. The office manager position becomes full of variety and challenge – and makes a difference in the lives of not just the dentist and staff, but also the patients and the community. A successful dental practice serves a vital role in the community – and the well-trained dental office manager is at the heart of this practice.

In part II, Jill will discuss her approach to dental office manager training and provide helpful tips for implementing a dental office manager training program within your practice.

Do you have an office manager? Does your company offer office manger training? What benefits of having a dental office manger are you seeing in your practice?

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