By: Rubana Masood, DDS, MS, BA
Congratulations! After all of the searching and interviewing, you’ve finally found the right associate job for you!
Now that the contract ink is dry, it’s time to get ready for your transition. It isn’t like an academic exam where you can study and know what to expect on the test. Every office is different and every team dynamic is different. Where will you find your place?
Whether it is your first position as an associate or a new associateship opportunity, there are a few things you can do to make your transition easier.
How To Best Transition Into Your New Dental Associate Role
Set Yourself up for Sucess
If there’s the opportunity, going to the office before you start working can help you learn about your new team and reduce first-day anxiety. You can even time your visit to experience your typical commute! Familiarize yourself with the layout of the office and the location of the emergency kit.
While you may be new, it is important to get the team working for you. Provide the front desk with the timings of your most common procedures so they can build your schedule most efficiently. Observe the treatment planning workflow so you can give your patients a smooth experience. Meet with your assistant to go over what materials are available in case you need a refresher. If there is a material or instrument you have, find where you could add it to the workflow. Set yourself up for success from day one.
Arrive Early Your First Days in the Office
Needless to say, arrive early! Give yourself time to settle in and participate in any sort of team huddle. Review the schedule for the day and familiarize yourself with the patients of the day. Communicate with your team as soon as possible about any issues to help the day go by smoothly.
Do your best with the materials provided, as long as you can still achieve predictable results for your patients. If you are doing treatment on a new patient, check that the diagnosis and recommended treatment fit within your philosophy and boundaries. Be flexible and seek what is in the best interest of the patient.
Patients may ask if you are new and even how many years you’ve been practicing. Be prepared to answer honestly, and in a way that instills confidence in your patients. While some patients may want to stay with the owner, many will be happy to be your patient once they know they’ll be well taken care of.
Take patients’ questions as an opportunity to show your confidence in your clinical knowledge and skills. During treatment, small gestures like offering lip moisturizer or rinsing with mouthwash at the end, help to establish a good rapport, well before they’ve even left the office.
Find Your Niche
After you’ve learned your way around, it’s time to start making it your own! Share your personality, whether it’s adding songs to the office playlist, or bringing in treats from your favorite place. Participate in the office’s culture to the level you feel comfortable, to show the team that you are invested in them and the office. Showing appreciation, even with a simple thank you in the middle of the day, can keep the positive momentum going all day long!
If there are materials or instruments that make your work better, you may need to request them through your assistant or directly to the owner. Ask yourself if these are things you need, or simply want, and prioritize your needs. It’s easier to show the value of materials that are versatile or that have long, or no expirations. Check out what is available from your current supplier including alternatives. Your suppliers may offer a sample to try out to demonstrate usefulness in the office. Most owners are happy to invest in what you need as long as the value is clear.
Getting in the Groove
Starting a new associateship can be intimidating. Every office has its own culture and it can be hard to find your place while juggling a busy day of clinical dentistry. These tips can help set you up for success starting on your first day. Shed your first-day nerves and get in the groove with your new team.
Enjoy treating patients in your new dental home!
Rubana Masood, DDS, MS is a general dentist creating beautiful smiles in Los Angeles, California. Her practice philosophy centers around minimally invasive dentistry to help patients achieve the smiles they deserve. Outside the operatory, Rubana is interested in wellness and finding ways to integrate new principles into the hectic dental lifestyle.