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Lisa Wadsworth, RDH, BS, is president of Lisa C. Wadsworth, Inc., a company focused on consulting and personal coaching for the dental community. Lisa earned a BS in Psychology, received Fellowship status with the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries and is recognized by Philips/Sonicare as a Key Opinion Leader. Lecture topics include implant dentistry, periodontal protocols, professional development, and ergonomics. As a speaker, she has been honored by Dentistry Today as a Leader in Continuing Education since 2007. She served as a contributing editor for Modern Hygienist from 2005 to 2007. She can be reached at (215) 262-6168 or via the website at www.lisawadsworth.com.
Two simple words create the scaffolding for “best practice” success across professional businesses and particularly ensure harmony in the dental practice: consistency and respect. Sure, there are other words that may come to mind, but at the heart of successful teams are consistency and respect.
Webster’s Dictionary defines consistency as, “conformity in the application of something, typically that which is necessary for the sake of logic, accuracy, or fairness.” Application, accuracy, and fairness are the underpinnings of clinical and administrative success.
Dissecting each word brings clarity and importance to the meaning of teamwork. The application and logic of administrative systems, e.g., medical intake sheets, new patient forms, interoffice, and intraoffice communication style, add to the efficiency and productivity of the clinical team. Practice communication represents the keystone of a smooth handoff to an adjunct team member, or referral to a specialist.
The clinical team and administrative staff must work together to prepare the patient to be scheduled, diagnosed, and treatment planned without the distraction of locating radiographs, confusion about the dentist’s request, or inaccuracies of medical needs. The logic and presentation of information provides a sense of calm and focus for the patient and the team.
Accuracy in the clinical or administrative setting may include intake of pertinent information ranging from insurance information to surgical or restorative protocol. The dentist who leads by example and demands accuracy will reap the rewards of higher case acceptance and team morale.
Accuracy and consistency provide a platform of stability and ensure that protocol and treatment are not in constant flux. Of course our patients are individuals with varying medical histories and personal needs, but protocol backed by research and consistency will boost team confidence and the bottom line.
Fairness, and the second word for success, respect, run a parallel course. The practitioner who maintains open lines of communication, seeks input from every team members, and treats deviation from the norm with a keen eye for transparency will be reap the reward of a happy and stable team.
Respect breeds inner confidence and self worth, and this will be noticed by peers and patients. In time, respect, and praise will produce outward praise for team members. Are you able to receive a compliment without following the nicety with self-deprecation? Are you able to utter a simple “thank you,” make eye contact, and keep the conversation flowing? If not, respect may be lacking between the dentist and collective team members.
Offering compliments to team members each day can change the dynamic of interoffice communication and will be noticed by the patients. Remember, the simple action of a heartfelt “please” and “thank you” represents the beginning of trust and appreciation for your peers and practitioner.
Respect and consistency are simple words but the meaning envelops the core of “best practice” treatment and team continuity.