Columnist appreciates dental team members who reach out to share their experiences, struggles while working in dental practices.
Dear Dental Products Report® Readers:
I have had the pleasure of writing articles for the past 8 years for MJH Lifesciences and the other parent companies of DPR who came before them. No, this is not a “Dear John” letter. I am not leaving, just felt a need to write this article.
What has been so wonderful is being given a platform to reach out to not just doctors but to everyone from the front office staff to the hygienists and office leaders. But the population that has touched me the most, if I am honest, has been the dental assistants. So many of you have reached out over the years to speak your truth and share some painful experiences. I am humbled and honored that you have done so.
When I get email from the readers, I get excited to hear what you are thinking. Quite often the experiences you share have been about issues of ethics, sexual harassment, disrespect, bullying, pressure for production dollars, etc. that have motivated you to pick up your keyboard and shoot me an email. Many of you I have spoken on the phone with and you asked why I take the time to have a call.
The reason is simple. So often dental assistants don’t feel like they have any power in the office. (Some of you may disagree with that statement, but I would wager that most of you think I am correct.) Giving you a platform to share your feelings is the least I can do. You make a difference. You work very hard and have a big impact on the comfort of your patients.
I have seen firsthand the value of solid, dedicated, wonderful dental assistants who do the right thing. For some, it has been a very difficult struggle. One reader told me how she was sexually harassed over and over in the practice she was in. She didn’t feel that she could leave as she is a single mother and was afraid she would be blackballed in such a small town if she quit. Basically, she felt trapped.
Then, there was the dental assistant who was horrified over how patients were being taken care of. She witnessed how trusting patients were upsold products and services that may not have been necessary. Ethically she struggled with what to do. She didn’t want to be a part of this yet needed the job. Patients trust you. This is a special relationship you have with your patients similar to a bartender or therapist.
Each of you makes a difference when the patient walks through the door. You greet them. Some hugging might happen. You basically play your role and make the patient feel safe and comfortable. As a patient, I am grateful for your hard work. So often, we don’t thank you for sterilizing the dental instruments to keep us healthy. We don’t acknowledge you handing the dentist their instruments or suctioning during a procedure.
But you are appreciated! Even if no one tells you that today, I am going on record telling you how special and important you are to every dental practice out there. Without you, the practice can’t function correctly. You know what I mean. When you are down 1 dental assistant, it hurts. You know that finding replacement dental assistants is hard, expensive, and exhausting. But, you are a professional, and you do the best you can.
I am not trying to get all sappy. Instead, I wanted you to realize that I hear you…and see you. I am grateful to those readers who come forward with their stories that with their permission I have shared. You are the reason why I keep writing and listening.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your story. The good, the bad, and the ugly…I am here to listen.