Why the challenges of training are absolutely worth it


Being an instructor in this age of technology is exhilarating ... most of the time. My favorite part about this position is seeing and hearing the excitement during the training when, all of a sudden, something clicks and the dentist or staff member becomes confident.

Being an instructor in this age of technology is exhilarating ... most of the time. My favorite part about this position is seeing and hearing the excitement during the training when, all of a sudden, something clicks and the dentist or staff member becomes confident.

On the other hand, I have had some training sessions where some staff members are reluctant. Sometimes I am not even sure they are still with me! Still, once the team understands how the technology will improve life around the office, its members are usually eager to forge ahead.

Typically, trainees are hesitant either because they are intimidated by the new technology or fear that learning the new system may entail a lot of extra work. I tend to cater toward those who feel intimidated and build confidence in their capability to learn. I ask about their hesitations or intimidations and, then, I then give them analogies to other things they have accomplished in life.

I am an upbeat person, and not an ounce of negativity is with me when I walk through the office doors. I keep everyone involved in every aspect of the training. Creating a hands-on experience builds confidence. I also start out showing them a few functions that can be done with the software to “wow” them, which piques their interest.

Related reading: How DEXIS Digital Imaging System can improve case acceptance in your dental practice

Teaching can be challenging

Sometimes learning takes perseverance. I trained an office that included two hygienists who both had decades of experience. Although they were very sweet, one of them told me, “I don’t own a computer. I have a flip phone and I don’t understand computer lingo.” I smiled and told them that anything can be accomplished with the right attitude and that once they grasped the basic concept, repetition would make it stick. They had great attitudes and took a lot of notes. They both had bright red cheeks by the time we were finished and were a bit overwhelmed but felt a sense of accomplishment. They both hugged me when I left, which is the ultimate reward.

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The range of technological abilities varies in all offices, but I gear my training sessions toward the most technologically challenged participants. Even though the dentist usually gives me an idea about the skill level of the employees, I always conduct my training from scratch as if no one is familiar with the topic. They appreciate that because sometimes the dentist can be as intimidated as the staff.

Some people have personal reasons for their resistance. At a recent training, one assistant used DEXIS at another office and was excited about the switch from the previous system. She was my biggest cheerleader, but the other assistant saw the new software as overwhelming. She proceeded to tell me about the merits of the previous method and fussed for more than 15 minutes, but I let her talk and listened. Then I demonstrated how change would help. They had a conversion done from a previous software and had more than 10 years of X-rays on the screen.

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I took one patient’s chart, cleaned it up and showed her how the screen should look after archiving the older X-rays. I quickly demonstrated a few of the icons just to calm her down and show her the DEXIS software is capable of doing everything she was accustomed to and more. She started to relax. Then she had lots of input and questions, which I appreciated and accepted. Throughout the training ,she would say, “That’s a better way to do it,” or “That’s easier and faster than the other software.” After a while, she smiled and said, “OK, I think I can handle this now.” I told her she made my day, and I’m glad she smiled and felt comfortable.

Fear creates resistance. We all get comfortable with our daily routines, and anything new feels like more work. But, actually, it’s the opposite; every new upgrade offers more efficient processes. When I train in an office that used film, and I explain the new sensor and software will allow them to take a full mouth series in five minutes, they laugh at me. Then I show them the video that DEXIS has on their website of an assistant doing just this, and they get it.

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Rewarding breakthroughs

Over the years, I have noted some “game-changers” for training. When the first-time staff members see the clarity and size of a digital X-ray on the screen, they are sold. One of the best parts of my job is hearing the “Wow!” or “Oh, my gosh!” when I demonstrate putting an intraoral camera picture next to an X-ray on the same screen. Being able to quickly compare an X-ray from the same area from two different dates side by side is another good example.

More from DEXIS: DEXIS unveils the all-new DEXcam 4 intraoral camera

During my training, I have the staff take a full-mouth series on an office member or patient who needs radiographs for diagnostic reasons, and they get to use all of the system’s accessories. I have heard several times, “This is the best series ever taken in this office.” They sometimes need to be coaxed to use the bar, ring and biteblock system. I tell them to think of accessories as tools to capture better X-rays without thinking about the angulations anymore. By the end of the series, they understand why they use the accessories because placement is different than with film.

Since training involves human nature, and as much as I try to create excitement and involvement, sometimes, for some, it just doesn’t happen. Happily, those trainings are few and far between. I love the questions, and I like to see when the trainees are intensely concentrating on the moment. I also enjoy when someone recognizes me at a seminar or other event. They always tell me, “I don’t know why I was so freaked out during the training. I love DEXIS.” Another day made!