Are you thinking about pursuing a career as a dental assistant? The dental assistant market is on the rise! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the market for dental assistants is expected to rise 7% between 2019 and 2029. There are important attributes needed, in addition to training and a certificate, to perform top-notch work as a dental assistant. Hard skills are important, but soft skills are also essential.
Dental assistants should be good at communicating with patients and teammates. They must also be compassionate about people and their work. Practicing professionalism in the workplace, maintaining an organized environment, and functioning as a team player are also important attributes needed to succeed as a dental assistant. Let’s explore a bit more about these characteristics.
Communication with other people is necessary for the dental assistant. One must communicate effectively with patients, family members and coworkers, and all in various situations. Communication can be in person, over the phone, or via telehealth. The dental assistant must be able to explain complex medical procedures, diagnoses, infection precautions and discharge instructions in simplified terms. One must also be skilled at initiating and maintaining small talk and communicating routine updates in status throughout patient visits.
Communication is not only verbal but also nonverbal. Nonverbal communication is as important as verbal communication. For example, a smiling face makes patients feel relaxed and welcomed as they enter the office. When offering communication with a closed-off posture, it can make a patient feel defensive or uneasy. Healthy verbal and nonverbal communication are essential to providing the highest quality care to patients.
It is estimated that almost 60% of people have anxiety about dental procedures and dentists. Some people have such severe anxiety, that they require medication both prior to going to the dentist, and during most dental procedures. It is so important for a dental assistant to understand the real fear that people have surrounding the dentist, and practice empathy.
Empathy can be defined as the ability to identify and understand another person’s emotions. It is necessary to feel empathy when practicing compassion toward patients. Empathy, over against sympathy, allows a dental assistant to feel what the patient feels, and identify with those feelings. When dental assistants are compassionate for patients, it can help ease anxiety and lead to a better experience for the patient.
Dental offices can be fast-paced environments, with patients constantly checking in and out. A dental assistant will be responsible for patient records, appointments, schedules, procedure preparation, patient education and assisting the dentist with procedures. Preparation for each patient must be made prior to appointment times, to assist the dentist in procedures.
It is important to make sure all needed materials are in the right place and they are well stocked. Try to anticipate the materials needed for the upcoming procedure. With practice, you will learn essential materials, and which dentists prefer certain materials. Being well-organized and detail-oriented will go far to help ensure patient safety and provide good patient care.
The primary reason for practicing professionalism is to maintain patient safety. According to the National Institutes of Health, quality health care is delivered by those who “respect the principles of honesty, respect for others, confidentiality and responsibility for their actions.”
Being a professional dental assistant requires maintaining honesty, respect, and confidentiality when communicating with patients and peers. And it is important to maintain patient privacy. Even when faced with a difficult situation, maintaining professionalism in the workplace demonstrates personal maturity and competency as a dental health care provider.
As a dental assistant, you will be required to jump in and help your fellow teammates whenever necessary. Assisting with the handling of instruments, helping with exams and testing or assisting with patient paperwork may be needed by different providers. Helping with necessary tasks will be needed to keep the office running smoothly and make for a good patient flow. Also, your coworkers will value you as a teammate and will be willing to help you when needed, as well!
When you act as a team player, resiliency is a must. Resiliency allows one to cope in times of adversity. Blogger Rosalyn Nelson gives us five ways we can build resiliency. These include expressing your emotions safely, “building little gems,” practicing emotion regulation, being optimistic, and accepting what you cannot change. Maintain a strong work ethic and practice resilience to succeed as a dental assistant.
Do you have these essential qualities to thrive and succeed as a dental assistant? The market for dental assistants is growing! Strategic Practice Solutions, LLC Dental Academy can help you on your road to success. Their accredited 10-week program comprised of both lecture and clinical experience can leave you prepared with the knowledge and skills needed to excel as a professional dental assistant. With affordable tuition, career guidance, and advisors ready and willing to help, there are no excuses for why you cannot enjoy a great career in dentistry. Give them a call or click to learn more today!