Most dental practices have formalized protocols and systems, sometimes called Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), that outline when and how different procedures should be done or how certain situations should be handled. While it’s often assumed that this information is designed to help and train new employees, the same information can be the basis for ongoing training of existing staff.
One approach for using your SOPs as training opportunities is to select one topic to be discussed at each monthly meeting. Use that session to explain the reason that protocol matters, what could happen if it was overlooked or ignored, and to come up with suggestions for how the topic can be better integrated into the practice’s every day operations. While this may appear tedious, time-consuming and maybe even a little boring, it ensures that everyone on staff has a complete understanding of why the protocol is in place and its role in providing patient care. It’s also possible that, after reviewing a few SOPs, your team might identify redundancies that can be eliminated or opportunities to streamline certain processes.
If your staff numbers allow it, this also provides an opportunity to assign a staff subgroup or “task force” to work on enhancing or updating the SOP, which provides professional development opportunities, fosters teamwork and communication across positions, and leads to greater practice efficiency.
Topics can be driven by new technology, software updates, or new equipment. Make each topic, no matter if it’s a new clinical procedure or administrative program, relevant to the practice and the team’s ability to provide quality patient care.
Whenever possible, give team members the chance to offer suggestions on agenda topics. Be upfront and transparent and let them know that it may not be possible to include every suggestion on an agenda but assure them that you will keep their suggestions in mind for a future date. If someone suggests a topic that’s not appropriate to a team meeting gently let them know that some decisions cannot be made at the group level but let them know you’re willing to discuss their concerns on a particular subject in private. Doing so will let them know you value their input and should make them willing to offer future ideas that could benefit the practice.
It’s a good idea to require staff members who submit agenda topics for consideration to put their initials on the form they use. Let them know this will help you follow up if you have any questions about their suggestions or if a confidential discussion would be more appropriate. Also consider asking any team member who submits an idea to lead the discussion of the topic he/she suggested.
See Suggested Staff Training Topics for a listing of clinical protocols and administrative systems found in many dental practices that are suitable topics for a staff training module.Resource: