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5 essential staff training strategies within the dental practice


By the same token that you deserve success, your team members deserve the proper, ongoing training that will enable them to contribute to that success.

By the same token that you deserve success, your team members deserve the proper, ongoing training that will enable them to contribute to that success.

If you’re like most dentists, you’ll be able to increase production and profitability (and reduce stress) by upgrading your training program.

Conduct a systematic review of how you approach increasing the knowledge and skills of your staff, focusing on the following five strategies:

Also by Dr. Levin: The biggest mistakes dentists make: Not crafting a new patient experience

  • Document step-by-step business systems. All the administrative protocols you use at your office, from answering new patient calls to collecting overdue payments, should be designed as a series of steps. By learning the proper steps and following them consistently, staff members work more efficiently. The best way to ensure these systems are clearly defined and readily learnable is to document them. By generating what amount to step-by-step instructions, you’ll be laying the groundwork for training new team members, cross-training staff and creating system checklists to prevent procedural “drift.” Documentation also facilitates troubleshooting when bottlenecks develop.

  • Conduct special training days. While some training, such as a new employee shadowing an experienced team member, can be worked into the daily schedule, much of what needs to be learned is best handled in more formal sessions. Schedule days devoted to training several times a year. Written agendas can include presentations by accountants and other experts, manufacturers’ reps and clinical staff. Role-playing sessions, based on scripts, can also be included.

Related reading: Why it's critical to lead with vision and goals in the dental practice

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  • Rely more on scripting. Practice success depends to a large extent on what you and your staff say in interactions with patients. Use step-by-step system documentation to generate scripts and then teach those scripts during training days as well as staff meetings. This will dramatically improve your team’s interpersonal skills and effectiveness.

  • Use job descriptions and performance reviews. Prepare a detailed, accurate and up-to-date job description for each staff member. Then, every six months, use it as the benchmark for an individual performance review. Arrange for a one-hour lunchtime meeting out of the office. Follow a written agenda and encourage the team member to do most of the talking. Ask what has gone right, what improvements are needed, how to upgrade practice function and what career development opportunities would be welcome. Overall, keep the tone positive.

Also by Dr. Levin: The 4 key questions to ask before investing in new technologies

  • Don’t confine your thinking to in-office training. Some of the most valuable learning experiences for your staff will be available only away from the practice. Plan (and budget for) staff training at practice management seminars, workshops and presentations that will build skills needed to reach your goals. This investment in your team members will not only yield tangible business results but also strengthen their commitment to your practice.


Whatever your current approach to staff training, there’s probably room for improvement. Start with these strategies and you’ll not only produce a better team. You’ll also become a better team leader.

Seminar Savings: Learn how to improve your training program and implement the systems needed to achieve your practice vision. Save $50 on any Dr. Levin seminar when you register 30 days in advance. Use code EARLYBIRD2016. See the 2016 seminar schedule and get your savings here.

Related reading: 5 ways to boost your dental practice's patient referrals

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