A dental assistant has to do a lot of things in a practice. With so many responsibilities, they naturally need to develop a lot of skills, especially with respect to patient care.
Depending on the allowable duties in their state—they could seat patients, take x-rays, make temporary crowns, place sealants, ligate archwires, do temporary fillings, pour models, trim dies, polish dentures, help out in the front office, and more. It’s clear dental assistants need skills to do a lot of tasks to care for patients.
But dental assistants need more than patient care and administrative skills. There are some skills dental assistants need to develop to work well in a practice no matter what patient care or operational duties are delegated to them.
In the Trapped in an Op Facebook group, members got together to support dental assistants and discuss what skills dental assistants must develop to bring maximum value to their practices and support their careers. Here are three skills practice leaders said they wished their dental assistants would develop to excel in their roles, advance in the practice, and serve patients and the practice well.
Dental assistants need to be team players.
Dental assistants are part of the team. They are as much a part of the practice as the hygienist, technician, or dentist. Many of the practice leaders who commented on the \thread said that they want their dental assistant to be team players. They need to have a passion, good energy, positive attitude, and professionalism. If they don’t get along with the team, problems will arise.
A dental assistant needs people skills and a personality not only to be a team player among team members but also to work with patients, other team members, and doctors to help ease patient anxiety and help patients make informed decisions about their dental care. A dental assistant is often the first person to greet the patient as they come to sit in the chair and they often spend more time with them than anyone else in the practice. They need to be able to make the patient feel comfortable.
Dental assistants need to be one step ahead of the doctor.
Sometimes performing procedures can be stressful for doctors, especially if their attention needs to be split. The best dental assistants make it easier for doctors to care for patients by being one step ahead of the doctor during procedures. Give them that mouth mirror before they ask for it. Know what’s going on and what the doctor might need next.
Some practice leaders in the discussion joked that they’d like their dental assistants to read minds. While that’s a joke, of course, they do want their dental assistant to take initiative, anticipate what the doctor needs next, and get ready for the next step in procedures before the doctor has to split her attention to search or ask for what they need next.
Dental assistants need to be multitaskers.
With all the tasks dental assistants need to do day-to-day, there is never a monotonous day. Things are constantly happening in a fast-paced environment, and it’s rare that a dental assistant will find themselves doing nothing. Often, they’re doing multiple things at the same time. Practice leaders in the Trapped in an OP Facebook group said that multitasking was an absolute “must have” when it comes to dental assistants.
What skills do you think every dental assistant should have?
There are so many skills a dental assistant needs to have. These are only the top skills that were commonly mentioned in the Trapped in an OP Facebook thread. What skills do you think every dental assistant needs? Let us know in the comments below!
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