Continuing Education – Not Just For Doctors Anymore!
By Stefanie Fario
All doctors and hygienists are familiar with the purpose behind continuing education. Every state has their own requirements set forth for a minimum amount of yearly continuing education providers need to meet in order to maintain their professional licensure. How many of you are taking your team with you though? The answer, sadly, is not enough! While there is definitely a cost associated with enrolling employees in continuing education courses it is so essential to a balanced, functioning team – and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Check out our top reasons why continuing education is just as important for your front and back office team as it is for you:
- LEARN. This may be the most obvious but the chance to learn something new! The operative word in the phrase “continuing education” is, you guessed it, EDUCATION! Rather than attend the conference and have to explain what you learned once you return or, worse, your team not being on the same page as you with the new industry standards and tech – take them with you. The majority of team members love attending CE events with their doctors and getting to bring all that juicy new information back to their patients. Keep your team educated and they will keep your patients educated (which, you guessed right again, translates to more treatment plan acceptance).
- MORALE. We all know things get stagnate in the workplace from time to time. Routine becomes mundane and occasionally it is necessary to “shake things up” to get things flowing again. The dental office is no different and your patients can tell when your team’s hearts are just not in it. If you notice things are getting a little gloomy around the office start looking into a CE about a new service you want to offer or even just a team-building seminar. Getting out of the office and spending the day with your colleagues in a “patient-free” atmosphere can really reinvigorate your team and bring back the passion. Both you and your patients will notice the difference.
- NETWORK. So, maybe you are the most friendly, outgoing and sociable person in your office. Or maybe that title belongs to your office manager, treatment coordinator or receptionist. Whoever it is – that person needs to be front and center at CE events with your team. CE events are just as much about networking with your colleagues and industry professionals as they are about learning. Getting your super-friendly, chatty OM introduced to that GP you just don’t see enough referrals from may be the smartest thing you ever do. Trust your team. You’ve hired them for a reason. Let them help you market how amazing you all know your practice is. It’s their livelihood at stake too and most of them would love to help you take the practice to the next level.
- COMMITMENT. As a general rule your team is going to be more dedicated to your practice’s success when they feel the investment themselves. Just coming to work and taking care of patients isn’t enough. You need to engage your team in your success and your growth. Make sure they have a voice. Even though at the end of the day it is the practice owner’s decision what direction the office goes in letting your team know they are valued and you want them to be an active participant in your success will bring great ideas to the table. Building relationships and an open space for sharing of ideas and feedback is a great outcome of attending CE courses and seminars.
A great resource for CE courses is of course your local dental society and the American Dental Association. Another option is local marketing agencies, practice consulting or large dental vendors (think Zimmer, Schein and Patterson) who often provide seminars not only at no cost to the team but sometimes no cost for the doctor. Start small. Find a local dinner or one day seminar within a reasonable driving distance for your team. If you can carpool even better. Play a team-building game in the car along the way to “warm up” for your day of fun and learning! Some popular options can be a road-trip scavenger hunt, “logistory” or “highs/lows”.
Whatever type of educational activity you choose to start with you will be successful. You will begin to notice positive changes in your team and your practice. Your patients will be thrilled that they not only have a doctor who seeks further education and is up-to-date on the latest and greatest in the field but that the entire team is there to educate and care for them – on the same level.
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