6 Steps to Becoming an Exceptional Clinical Leader

Practices looking to recruit and retain quality dentists should take a close look at these necessary items designed to help lead their team of associates.

One of the biggest challenges I hear from colleagues is that they’re unable to recruit and retain quality associates and specialists. If you’re expanding and hiring associates, what will your application pool look like? You will get many new dentists applying for a job, maybe a few seasoned dentists.

Seasoned dentists will come with their own skill set and most likely will need very little mentoring. The downside, however, may be that, by the time they begin to work with you, they already know their preferences and have their own treatment philosophies, which may or may not align with your own clinical vision.

Looking at it from a different angle, let’s realize that the new dentists are fresh out of dental school. Most of them want to perform quality dentistry and grow to become confident dentists. They just don’t have the speed and experience to tackle all of the clinical challenges.

No matter who you trust to take the very best care of your patients, the question is, how do you support them to get them to where they want to be?

So how do you lead a team of associates? How do you support and/or mentor them, no matter what their experience level might be? Let’s look at 6 things that are necessary to make that happen.

1. Practice Vision

Remember, whatever you and your team do should support the vision of your practice. Vision is a vivid image of what you want your ideal practice to look like based on your goals and aspirations. Your vision statement should be a guiding light to everyone within your practice which should always be considered while making internal decisions. A practice without a clear vision is like climbing a mountain without knowing where the peak is and how to get there. So, the first step is clearly to define your vision if you don’t have one. Your Fortune Management coach can help you with that.

2. Clinical Vision

Just like practice vision, you should also have a clinical vision for your practice. This could be what type of services you would like to deliver to your patients based on your own treatment philosophies. Your clinical vision shouldn’t be based only on your own clinical skills, but rather be holistic in nature. This should be considered when you hire associates and specialists. While interviewing, one of the main themes should be that you make your practice and clinical vision clear to the interviewees and ask each candidate about his or her clinical vision and see if that aligns with yours. Look to onboard associates and specialists who possess a skill set that brings you closer to your vision.

3. Get to Know Your Clinical Providers

Your job as a clinical leader doesn’t end when you hire that perfect candidate. The main challenge is to retain that ideal teammate. Make conscious efforts to establish rapport with your clinical team and get to know them, their goals, vision, preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. Listen to their ideas rather than shooting them down, and guide them to the right path if their ideas do not align with yours. Nurture their strengths rather than focusing on their weaknesses. They will be more likely to work on improving their weaknesses and challenges if you recognize and support their strengths.

4. Standard of Care

No matter how skillful your clinical team is, there should be a standard of care that everyone needs to follow. For example, this could be that every new patient that enrolls into your office gets a full mouth series of X-rays, clinical photos, CBCT and/or panoramic X-ray as necessary, and a full digital scan if that supports your vision. The standard of care could be divided into 4 or more main categories, such as diagnosis, treatment planning, enrollment, treatment delivery, and specialist referrals. These protocols should support your vision, be in writing, and shared with the entire clinical team.

5. Communication

I have been to many offices where leadership is never shown in meetings revolving around the clinical side of the practice. Remember, your teams thrive when they’re given feedback on their work. Just like office meetings, clinical meetings are just as important. Regularly scheduled meetings with your associates, specialists, and hygienists bring everyone together to work collaboratively. This is your chance to celebrate successes and to understand the challenges that each member of the team is facing. This is your chance to mentor your clinical team and lead them to their individual successes.

6. Leadership

As an executive and CEO of your practice, your leadership should work towards creating more leaders. We often fall into management because that’s an easy thing to do, but we miss the idea of giving freedom to our people and watching them grow. An effective leader in your practice is one who works independently and effectively towards the vision of your practice while maintaining high-performance standards. These are the people others will follow because they support them and they pull them up. Your job, as a Level 5 leader is to grow more Level 4 leaders within your practice. Magic happens when your entire practice becomes team-driven.