The Most Effective Way to Educate Your Staff (and it’s free!)

April 8, 2015|Kendall Butler

Dentistry is a field in health care which does not require specialized training for support staff, with the exception of hygienists. As a result, dentists can find themselves frustrated by the lack of knowledge, skill and speed demonstrated by the support staff which surrounds them.

Your practice likely makes a significant investment in advertising, phone book listings, websites, mailers and social media. All these investments are designed to achieve one thing: to generate phone calls that we hope bring in new patients. It is not enough for those answering your phones to be well mannered. They need to be knowledgeable as well.

Front office staff provides the first impression of your practice as they answer your phones. They often answer questions regarding procedures, how many visits are involved with a specific service and the costs involved. If these questions are answered incorrectly or the caller can sense a lack of knowledge or expertise, you have just given a poor first impression and the caller will move on to the office down the street!

Learn together to grow together

Few dental practices consider including business office staff in regular continuing education classes. What a missed opportunity! I believe every dental practice should be holding regular in-office training sessions for their team members. The dentist themselves should kick off this process by hosting a “lunch and learn” on new services they are offering, such as sedation dentistry or sleep apnea appliances. By presenting to your own staff, they learn from you exactly how you will proceed, the number of visits required, the costs involved and any other pertinent information you wish them to know.

Not only will your staff learn from these sessions, but they will all be saying the same thing to patients in the way you want them to. When staff is using the same verbiage, you look much more professional and this in turn leads to fewer communication breakdowns with patients. When teams learn together, they become more engaged about the subject matter as well as with one another. This becomes a good team building experience and it is free! The dentist is not spending money whisking the team entire team off site for CE, and there is no lost production time away from the practice.

Take turns sharing your expertise

Any time you decide to use a new product, offer a new service or even add a piece of new equipment, educate your staff on why you have it and exactly how your patients will benefit. For example, if you have purchased a laser for your hygiene department, your hygienist should educate the entire staff on all the necessary details of those services. This is just good business practice!

Consider a presentation by your team member who handles all the insurance. He or she can discuss which procedures always require a narrative or when to take photos. It’s important team members are aware, for instance, that some insurance companies now pay 100% on bicuspid sealants, and that others may offer specific patients with health concerns additional benefits.

By using the talent within your office, you win in numerous ways:

  • You will gain a well-trained and knowledgeable team.
  • Staff gains more working knowledge to increase their own level of engagement on the job as well as to properly educate your patients.
  • Staff gains a clear perspective of what you want said to patients, which in turn makes your office appear more cohesive and professional to patients.
  • Every team member can have the opportunity to present any knowledge that should be shared for the improvement of the practice, and employees will feel valued by the dentist and proud to lead at a meeting.

There are very few opportunities that present themselves where we can spend so little yet gain so much. The only investment is your time, and that investment will pay you infinite positive dividends for the entire life of your practice!

For more ideas to make your practice stronger, contact Kendall Butler or any member of the Dental Advisory Group at Schenck at 800-236-2246.


Kendall Butler is a dental practice efficiency specialist with more than 25 years of experience in health care. She works with doctors, practice managers, hygiene teams and support staff to identify ways to enhance practice efficiency and profitability.



Tags: Dentists