Professionalism can be set by anyone in the dental office and is a standard that will benefit the dental practice and the patients as a whole.
One of the most telling things as soon as someone comes in is the appearance of the staff, and of the office. In large corporations and big businesses, there is often some form of uniform that all staff wears to make sure they portray a certain kind of professionalism as well as uniform code. Dental practices don’t necessarily have that.
Instead, they typically have everyone wear scrubs. Some dental practices will allow you more flexibility with the color, design, and patterns of your scrubs, while others prefer a very traditional approach to the apparel. No matter what it is that you are wearing, making sure it is not overly wrinkled, or stained, will ensure that you are portraying a professional appearance to your patients.
It’s also important to make sure that you take care of your dental office in general. That means if you see something on the ground inside that shouldn’t be there to make sure you pick it up and put it back where it is supposed to be.
That also means to make sure that your treatment room is clean and organized before any patient walks in.
Strive To Follow Up With Patients
Be sure to follow up with patients before their upcoming appointments, as well as after if they were having any issues that needed to be followed up with.
Typically this is not as applicable for dental hygienists, and dental assistants.
Following up with patients before their upcoming appointments will help to reduce no-call no-shows. Nothing can throw off your team’s day like patients not showing up.
How you treat patients and your attitude when dealing with them will reflect either very positively, or very negatively on the dental practice as a whole.
One thing that we have always reinforced is that connections are made between people. This is you and the rest of your entire team, and the patient. You can have some of the most convenient things for the patient available to them, but if the demeanor of all of the staff portrays negativity and unprofessionalism, then the patient will think that of the entire dental practice despite everything else.
It’s also important to remember that a lot of people coming into dental practices have some form of anxiety about the dentist. Whether this is typically from negative reinforcement due to their previous experiences with dentist and dental offices, or from the pain that teeth cleaning can often bring out when there is poor oral hygiene.
A dental hygienist, dental assistant, or Dentist should all work to make the patient feel comfortable, to educate them, and give them positive reinforcement on the things they have improved upon since your last visit with them.
Be True To Your Ethics
This is something that anybody in any position can do in a dental office. If you ever feel that anybody is acting unethically then be sure not to let it pass. Bring it to the respective supervisor, or the owner of the dental practice if you feel it is necessary.
Dental patients are coming to your dental practice and trusting you to be the expert and professional. Abusing that trust could lead to a plethora of legal issues, ethical issues, and complete destruction of trust towards your dental practice.
News and word-of-mouth tend to travel very quickly through communities, so it is important that you are not known as an unethical ethical dental practice.
Be As Transparent As Possible
The fastest way to lose a patient’s trust in both a team, as well as the dental office as a whole is a lack of transparency.
One of the biggest things to be transparent about is cost. Some patients have no idea whether certain things are going to be covered by their insurance, or how much general procedures or cleanings even cost. All of these unknowns may result in a patient not getting the care that they should be getting.
Sometimes as a dental hygienist or dental assistant you may not know the cost of certain procedures at your practice, or what each insurance covers.
In cases like this is important to lean on your team. Direct them to speak with the team member in the front of the office so that they can help them out by giving them some more information.
It’s also important to be transparent about what procedures entail if they need one, or even what the devices do that you are using if it’s something they’re interested in. Sometimes a lot of the anxiety that patients experience is from not truly knowing what’s going on, but only feeling pain. So being able to explain the processes in a way that doesn’t make it sound as scary will allow the patient to understand more and be able to calm down more.
Of course, in situations like this, the word choice is going to be extremely important.
Professionalism is something that can always be improved throughout the office, no matter the position. We have more useful tips and guides below. Be sure to read through all of them so that you are prepared and are able to be the best dental hygienist, dental assistant, front office member, or dentist you can be.