Being a dental assistant is not an easy job. It requires skill, precision, compassion, and dedication. While it is true that dental assistants have many tasks to perform in their jobs, there are five essential tasks to be successful at the office. The five essential tasks for dental assistants are to be compassionate, a team player, proactive, knowledge-seeking and flexible. We will look more into these tasks to help you be successful in your dental assisting career. 

Be Compassionate

Dental assistants care for people. But being compassionate to patients can often be difficult. Being compassionate means actively listening to patients, maintaining a calm and understanding demeanor, and maintaining patient confidentiality. When faced with difficult situations, dental assistants must maintain their composure, practice empathy, and be as supportive as possible to the patient, while still performing their necessary duties. 

Practicing empathy involves allowing oneself to be sensitive and aware of another person’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Patients may feel anxious or nervous about seeing the dentist. It is important to provide non-judgmental support to help patients be at ease about their appointment. 

Communicate Effectively

We have already discussed being compassionate. But, as a dental assistant, you must practice compassion while still communicating well. As mentioned previously, patients may experience anxiety at the dentist. Some anxiety can be relieved by effectively explaining procedures and treatments to patients. Explain procedures step-by-step, in layman’s terms when able. Patients will also benefit from printed instructions for their post-procedural care. 

Communicating effectively also includes follow-up calls to patients. For example, consider calling patients prior to appointments to ensure that they will be coming, and to answer any questions beforehand. Follow-up calls to check on how the patient is doing after a procedure and answering questions are also important. Dental assistants must be able to communicate well with patients to ensure patient satisfaction and improved health outcomes. 

Be a Team Player

When it comes to providing quality patient care, health care providers must work as a team to be successful. Dental assistants are responsible for assisting dentists, dental hygienists and even the clerical staff. They may be given several various tasks in a day to help support their team. Being a team player could be setting up the materials needed for a dental hygienist, or taking on all the clerical tasks so another team member can have a break! One bad apple can bring the entire team down; or, if everyone works together, it will make for a vastly better environment. Dental assistants must work well with others and maintain flexibility in the workplace, to ensure patient safety and a healthy office culture. 

Be Proactive

Dental offices are a busy place. Patients come in for appointments throughout the day, and no two situations are the same. As a dental assistant, it is essential to anticipate the needs of the patient, and other dental providers. This will ensure effective workflow, as well as ensure patient satisfaction. Anticipating needs of the patient could involve evaluating the clinic wait times. Patients are frustrated by long wait times. Being efficient will help decrease patient wait times, thus increasing patient satisfaction. 

Anticipating needs of the other dental providers would involve knowledge about each one’s treatment preferences. Some dentists may prefer to use certain brands of equipment or prefer a different treatment setup. Anticipate the needs of patients and coworkers, and address them quickly and efficiently to prevent backups in patient flow. 

Be Flexible

Change is inevitable in dentistry. New procedures, products, and treatments are made available seemingly every day. Dental assistants must be flexible in their careers and adjust well to the frequent changes. Changes may also include patient flow, new office processes, or changes in management. Due to the recent pandemic, many offices were implementing schedule changes and staff reassignments. This is also an example situation when dental assistants would need to demonstrate flexibility. Being able to adjust to changes well can help you be happy and successful in your career. It will also impact patient safety and satisfaction. 

Constantly Seek Knowledge

As with any healthcare career, the learning does not end after graduation. Dental assistants will continuously learn through experience in their careers and connections with coworkers. However, one should actively seek to learn more about the dental profession. Dentistry, being a dynamic profession, enjoys medical updates that are constantly evolving. Dental assistants can keep their knowledge updated by attending seminars, online education, getting involved in the community, or returning to school to further their education. Depending on your state, dental assistants may be able to acquire certifications in certain procedures. 

Do you have what it takes to be a dental assistant? Are you adaptable, knowledgeable, and have compassion for others? Dental assisting may be the career for you! Let Strategic Practice Solutions Dental Academy help you achieve your goals. Their quality learning opportunities at an affordable rate can help you succeed. Call or click today for more information.