Joycelyn Ghansah is a former Healthcare Organizer with a background public health, include reproductive and sexual health. When she's not freelance writing, she's transcribing interviews and researching ways to strengthen healthcare labor laws.
Dental assistants need to continue improving their soft skills throughout their careers. As dental employees, assistants are continually working with other staff members to ensure they meet patient dental hygiene needs, implementing preventative measures to provide quality care.
Developing soft skills as a dental assistant allows you to understand and communicate with patients and staff more. To help dental assistants assist patients and staff, we’ve developed a list of 4 ways to improve their soft skills.
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First, what are some soft skills a dental assistant needs to be successful?
Now that we’ve listed the top 7 soft skills dental assistants should have, here are the 4 ways to improve them.
Attending webinars and conferences that cater to healthcare workers or dental care allow dental assistants to expand their knowledge and understanding of dentistry and healthcare needs. Webinars and conferences are also a great place to meet consultants and other healthcare professionals.
Assistants network and connect with others from diverse industries and departments. Connecting through webinars can help them meet and collaborate with other assistants on projects and prevention initiatives.
As dental assistants, creating initiatives, and increasing patient satisfaction is vital for dental practices. Webinar events are a great way to address specific dental industry issues, i.e., pollution, PPE shortage. It’s also a great way to connect with community members and patients.
Webinar events allow patients and staff to present their issues or services and work together to meet patient needs.
Self-reflection and journaling are essential when developing soft skills. Writing the skills you need to improve allows dental assistants to be honest with themselves.
It enables them to gather their thoughts and think about their careers, such as why they chose dental assisting and their career goals and accomplishments. Assessing their thoughts and experiences helps assistants become more intentional when achieving their goals.
For example, assistants can develop a career or weekly goals and create check-in times to check in on goals. They can connect with other dental assistants and a mentor to help you meet your goals.
Having weekly goals can keep you grounded, aware of your surroundings, and organized. These are all skills dental assistants need to be successful. Being organized can show your coworkers and dentist that you can manage your time, task, assist with care, and work independently.
Improved Skills: Organizational and Detailed Oriented, Work Ethics
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One of the most important soft skills is listening. Listening and communication play a role in patient and workplace satisfaction. Dental assistants communicate with patients on the phone, at the front desk, and in the procedure room.
One way to and improve communication is to ask for feedback. Developing a system that allows you to receive feedback from patients and coworkers shows that assistants care about their work.
Dental assistants can connect with coworkers to develop a time to reflect on the day or month and work. As for patients, virtual or in-person surveys can be a method of feedback. Dental assistants can bring patients’ input to their meetings and connect with staff to improve the patient experience.
Changing the way you interact with patients and staff after feedback shows growth. Asking for feedback and implementing changes in your work shows that assistants are flexible and willing to improve themselves.
Improved Skills: Interpersonal Communication, Active Listening, Problem Solving
Dental assistants have compassion for helping others, whether it’s assisting patients who are nervous or scared or working with patients or guardians with insurance or billing issues. Volunteering is another way compassionate dental assistants learn, gain new skills, and give back. Volunteering also provides opportunities for dental assistants to connect with other dental professionals and community members or patients. There are many organizations, domestic and abroad, that a dental assistant can volunteer their time and experience.
As a volunteer, dental assistants develop diverse dental skills, work ethic, and learn creative ways of problem-solving. Depending on where they volunteer, dental assistants will engage patients with diverse backgrounds and develop preventative measures that meet these patients’ needs.
While volunteering, dental assistants should create objects explaining their purpose, what they which to learn, document their experiences and skills, and how they plan on using their expertise. Volunteer not only builds experience and your resume but can show practices you have compassion and eager to help others.
Improved Skills: Work Ethic, Leadership, Interpersonal Communication, Compassion, Organizational and Attention to Detail
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Soft skills allow dental assistants to engage and communicate the needs of patients and staff. Dental assistants work both administrative and dental duties. Interacting with others is an integral part of their job.
When dental office managers are hiring, they look at more than technical skills and credentials; they want someone with compassion, empathy, and efficiency. Dental practices are searching for someone who can connect with patients and staff through verbal and nonverbal communication, work independently, but understands the importance of teamwork.
Having soft skills, such as organizational and detailed oriented, and active listening, shows that the dental assistant care for those around them and is ready to do their best to ensure patient quality care.
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