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The 5 Qualities of an Excellent Assistant

For many dental offices the greatest challenge is to hire and develop excellent personnel. The tendency is to look for an assistant with experience and one who mirrors the doctor’s detail oriented personality.  Experience is always desirable, but for those offices who desire to thrive in a competitive world of customer service, experience might be sixth on the list of indispensable qualities of the excellent dental assistant.  Instead the top five qualities would demand that the assistant, 

1) Be presentable and well groomed.  Your assistant represents you and will be considered the reflection of your values and the quality of your work.  If you cannot manage your personnel’s “look” then it will be distracting to your client’s and detract from your service.

2) Be eager and willing to learn and grow.  This will include the willingness to be corrected, as far too often staff members become defensive when given constructive criticism.  Personal and professional growth only takes place when we become aware of those things one need to change, and are willing to accept an honest appraisal of one’s weaknesses.

3) Be willing to invest herself in the office.  Any assistant who has her plate full in her personal life, or does not show a strong work ethic should be rejected as a long term employee.  A family life should encouraged and admired, but this must be balanced with a commitment to the office, arriving on time and staying late when necessary. 

4) Enjoy working with people. There are many assistants who like to work with charts, instruments and teeth, but they do not really enjoy people.  A successful office needs personnel who enjoy and love their clients as much as they love their work.  Not only do you have to work all day with this assistant, but she must perform “showtime” for you in greeting client’s and making them feel a part of your enjoyable dental family.

5)  Have an attitude of joyfulness and thanksgiving.  Skills can be trained, but it is very difficult, if not impossible, to train someone to have a positive and happy outlook on life.  Joyfulness is contagious and all of your patients will appreciate the ambiance that a positive and friendly attitude creates.  Hire nice, enthusiastic and outgoing assistants and then the training you provide will be an excellent investment in your future.  

It is said that the greatest business asset is its people.  This is not true!  Only the right people are an asset, and the wrong people can be costly to profits each year.  Your motto should be:  This bus stops only for pleasant, coachable, self-disciplined and invested people.

You will never regret hiring an assistant who shows an excellent attitude with good people skills no matter what her experience and training.  Overcoming poor attitudes and personality is too costly for any service business, especially the small dental office that needs its personnel to be not simply workers, but the doctor’s associates.  Treat your personnel with respect, and be sure that you are modeling the same qualities that you desire to see in them.  Your office will become what you live out each and every moment of the day in your work.  So choose joy, choose thanksgiving and most of all choose to please your client’s and personnel as you make your office into a place where everyone will enjoy the experience of a beautiful smile.

K. Ryan Alexander, Sr. Consultant