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Enhancing Patient Care: How Owners Can Support Associate Dentists’ Clinical Excellence

Updated: Jun 17

Providing exceptional patient care should be a top priority for any practice aiming for growth and a positive community reputation. While dental practice owners have control over their own patients, ensuring consistency across Associate Dentists in their team can be challenging. As such, they must provide support, encouragement, and guidance in their Associates’ clinical and experiential aspects of patient care. This article will explore ideas that can help practice owners achieve this.

  1. Set Clear Clinical Protocols: Establish precise clinical protocols and standards outlining the practice’s expectations for patient care, covering infection control, treatment planning, patient communication, and follow-up care. Clear guidelines ensure consistency and quality across the clinical team. Begin with a collaborative exercise to identify what exceptional patient care looks like, gaining emotional buy-in from the team.

  2. Regular Clinical Reviews and Feedback: Conduct regular clinical reviews and provide constructive feedback to Associate Dentists, supporting them and ensuring alignment. These reviews allow reflection, identification of improvement areas, and guidance for refining clinical and non-clinical skills. Constructive feedback fosters a culture of continuous improvement, and time should be set aside to ensure these important meetings occur.

  3. Provide Recognition: Acknowledge Associate Dentists who consistently demonstrate excellence in any capacity. Recognising achievements, patient success stories, and contributions to practice growth not only enhances an individuals’ self-image but helps to inspire others. This can be as simple as an announcement in your team meeting and a round of applause. Positive reinforcement motivates Associates and the team to continue striving for excellence.

  4. Promote Evidence-Based Practices: Encourage evidence-based practices in clinical decision-making. Provide access to reputable dental journals, research papers, online learning and clinical guidelines. Encourage sharing of this knowledge and ideas across the whole clinical team. Investing in continuing education as a practice creates alignment and a culture of progress, which can help attract new quality talent when the time comes.

  5. Emphasise Patient-Centred Care: Instil a patient-centred approach in the practice’s culture. Discuss how patients should be treated, emphasising addressing their concerns with empathy, clear communication, and a concise presentation of treatment options. Appreciate the spectrum of patient attitudes and how individualisation is important to enhance patient satisfaction, the overall experience and loyalty to the practice.

  6. Establish a Mentorship Program: Pair experienced dentists with junior associates for guidance, insights, and feedback. Encourage collaboration with other clinicians and specialists on more complex cases where required. Set guidelines and time aside for these interactions to foster a culture of mentorship and support.

  7. Provide Access and Training to Technology: Equip associates with access to advanced dental technology to enhance their clinical capabilities. Ensuring they receive proper training and guidance on digital imaging, CAD/CAM solutions, CBCT machines, and other modern practice equipment will aid their confidence in using them with patients.

  8. Support Work-Life Balance: Recognise the impact of well-being on the ability to deliver quality patient care. Encourage work-life balance with reasonable schedules and self-care opportunities, and foster a positive and supportive work environment.

In conclusion, practice owners are pivotal in helping Associate Dentists achieve clinical excellence and provide the best possible patient care. Committing to investing in education, mentorship and technology will give Associates the confidence and support to deliver their best work.

Collaborative efforts between practice owners and Associate Dentists ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes, increased patient satisfaction, and the establishment of a practice recognised for its excellence.

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