Top 5 Soft Skills Every Dental Pro Should Have Up Their Sleeve
Dental professionals have to know their stuff; and while technical talent is what makes you a good healthcare professional, from performing initial teeth cleanings to conducting x-rays, it’s those softer qualities – the way you perform your “hard skills” – that make you great.
These are the top five soft skills every dental pro should practice:
Be a great communicator
Communication is key in any profession, but especially in the dental field. Fear of the dentist is common, and it’s not difficult to understand from the patient’s perspective; they’re often not informed about what’s really going on – and it’s difficult to ask anything with a scaler stuck in your mouth. As a hygienist or assistant, it’s your job to positively communicate with your patients – be thorough in your explanations of procedures, answer any questions they may have, and never underestimate them. If you can explain the “why” behind what you’re doing, they’ll be able to better understand and take ownership of their health, empowering them to maintain proper oral hygiene – which keeps them healthier and your job easier! And keep it conversational – a friendly tone can ease anxiety, and help you build better relationships.
Don’t forget the importance of communication with your team members, either; openness and transparency create a smoother workflow, which optimizes your ability to successfully and efficiently treat patients. No patient wants to stare at a clock in the waiting room for an eternity, and no professional wants to stay after hours.
Doctor appointments (of any kind) can be scary – dentist appointments, especially. People report fear and anxiety about everything from tooth pain to the sound of a drill; whatever the source of these phobias, it’s important to be compassionate in your communication – have patience with your patients. Reassure them that you’re there for them, to keep them healthy. Have empathy for their concerns; make them feel safe. When you establish a comfortable relationship with your patients, they will learn to trust you – which has been proven to increase patients’ willingness to adhere to treatment plans and to decrease dental anxiety, so that your patient is making the most of their oral health journey. Your voice has a very real impact; use it wisely.
Dental professionals are intelligent – no question about it. Becoming an assistant or hygienist can take months to years of higher education, and the learning doesn’t stop there – on top of having to pass board exams, continuing education courses are regularly required in order to maintain state licensure.
And this lifelong learning makes sense; there are constantly new developments occurring in the dental industry (see: holistic dentistry and digital dentistry). For a dental professional, it’s important to remain a curious and constant student – it’s how you will provide the best care for your patients. Never be afraid of new information.
Be wise with your time
Every day at a dental practice runs on a tight schedule; everyone has to be running on time, at the top of their game. Running behind schedule can result in unhappy patients, affecting their relationship with you, which can ultimately negatively impact their health; and if you’re rushing to catch up, you can create an unsafe environment. Take your time, prioritize tasks, and plan ahead. Make sure rooms are ready, and that your mind is prepared – it will reduce stress, and you’ll be more efficient. And, of course – loss of time equals loss of productivity equals loss of money.
You also have to be adaptable; changes in schedule are inevitable, so be prepared to get creative. Manage your time wisely, and you’ll be the best professional in the biz.
And for temping, time management is vital – knowing when and where to be, and how to manage your own schedule, is what it’s all about.
Read more fun facts, expert advice, and dental industry news on the Biteline blog.
And don’t forget to share with your dental friends!