Dental practice teams have the capacity to create
unique synergies and workflows supporting team cohesiveness. This allows for a
readiness to accomplish goals and shift teams from good to great.
During discussions with dental practices, I've
found common goals are to provide exceptional patient care and to exceed
patient expectations with a unique patient experience.
We can all agree these are big goals. A fundamental
area of the dental practice that can make impactful steps in supporting
these types of goals is the hygiene department. When a dental practice fully
understands the role and contributions of the hygiene team and prioritizes
dental hygiene leadership it can accelerate the accomplishment of big picture goals.
Registered dental hygienist are providers, ultimately leading their patients to health or keeping their patients engaged and
motivated to stay healthy. If we apply the same principle to the
hygiene team, and the dental practice this “lead” role is equally important.
Some of the key benefits of having a designated
hygiene leader to propel a practice forward and elevate patient
care include the following.
- peer to peer support addressing the unique needs of each dental hygienist
- collaboration in creating and understanding both hygiene team and practice
- dental hygienists that understand they play a key role in
contributing to the success of the dental practice
- minimized gaps
with administrative and clinical team members
When it comes to supporting the unique needs of the hygiene team, it’s all about understanding team strengths and weaknesses and coming together to build solutions. Having a designated leader skilled at identifying how each person can be part of creating desired results will provide everyone with job fulfillment, and support team retention.
The fast-paced demands of a dental practice can be
challenging. When teams make a conscious effort to slow down and collaborate on team goals this can be both exciting and motivating for all. Once goals
are set, a hygiene leader can take on the task of meeting with hygienists as a
group or individually, to encourage and inspire individuals to continue to be part of making goal attainment happen.
The role of a dental hygienist has evolved over the
years and so has the evidence of the oral systemic link. Dental
hygienists are viewed as preventative care specialists that address oral
inflammation directly impacting systemic health. When each hygienist
at the practice believes the treatment they provide can be lifesaving, and their
knowledge and skills are valued by the practice and their patients, it puts the
practice at the forefront of dentistry. A lead hygienist demonstrates daily the importance of identifying patients red flags and risk factors impacting
oral and general health. Making this a top priority and focusing on ensuring
team members strongly believe they are supporting the patient’s whole health will
contribute to exceeding patient care expectations. In the end the relationship
and services provided by each hygienist plays a critical role is ensuring the
practice is a success.
A dental practice relies on each team member for effective delivery of care. In order to have smooth team
member handoffs from clinical to administrative staff everyone needs to
understand all roles and responsibilities. This will allow for bridging of gaps between
administrative team and the care delivered in dental hygiene operatory, essential for success. This
is an area a hygiene leader can focus on, that being, training and awareness to
calibrate patient communication verbiage. This will boost team credibility and
have positive impact on the patient experience.
A dental hygiene leader is not necessarily someone
with the highest billings, it’s an individual willing to go out of the way to understand their colleagues, keep the team accountable, be open
to all possibilities, and have empathy. The desire to learn is a top quality that can allow an individual to build on other skills and grow as a strong leader. As John F
Kennedy said “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other". As practice owners and practice management
prioritize hygiene leadership, it will position dental practices to be at the
forefront for leading with greatness when it comes to patient care and their