What Employers are Looking for in a Dental Assistant
Want to become a dental assistant? You’ll need a good idea of how to get hired.
The ever-increasing demand for dental assistants has seen a huge number of people entering the industry in recent years. Dental assistants play an important role in the delivery of dental services to the wider population. However, good dental assistants can be hard to come by.
Beyond the necessary qualifications and varying degrees of experience, there are a number of key attributes that are considered important by those who make employment decisions for dental assistants.
According to the Australian Department of Employment, these are the most relevant skills for dental assistants that aren’t industry-specific. If you want to start a career as a dental assistant, these are the things you need to work on before and during your study.
The ability to talk to others and convey information clearly and effectively is critical for any dental assistant role. As a dental assistant, you’ll be communicating regularly with dentists, administration workers (if there are any in your practice) and most importantly, patients.
When you’re working directly with a dentist in their surgery, communication is very important. You’ll need to be able to state clearly and succinctly everything that you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Whether this involves operating dentistry equipment or directly assisting the dentist by passing along tools, it’s important that they don’t have any difficulty understanding you.
Active listening involves dedicating your full attention to what other people are saying. You need to take the time to understand the message they’re getting across, ask relevant questions, not interrupting at inappropriate times, and actively engage with the speaker when necessary.
In any industry, there are few things more frustrating than an employee who won’t listen. When you’re working in an environment with the health of patients at stake, the ability to be an active listener becomes even more important.
In many situations in dental surgeries, time and accuracy are critical. By improving your active listening skills, you can ensure that you’re able to do your job quickly and effectively. This skill will come in very handy not only in the surgery but also when dealing with patients at administration, such as booking appointments and managing payment information.
Basic reading comprehension is a fantastic skill. With it, far more doors open to you than without it. However, in a dental practice, reading comprehension can mean the difference between success and failure. Understanding written sentences, paragraphs and the way work-related documents are structured and collated is important for a number of reasons.
You will need to be able to interpret appointment calendars, dental treatment requirements, billing information, technical equipment guides and much more. Reading and understanding all of this content clearly will allow you to carry out your role with minimal mistakes and ensure you get the job done right.
A strong skill set in service orientation involves actively searching for ways in which you can help people, particularly customers. The dental industry is competitive, and many clients often seek to form good relationships with the dental practice that they attend.
The ability to provide high quality customer service will keep customers coming back again and again, and will greatly contribute to the value that you provide to the practice. Developing a high level of service orientation is not particularly difficult, particularly if you have a background in retail or hospitality.
If you don’t have this experience, make an effort to be more outgoing and speak to the service workers that you encounter on a daily basis. Great customer service skills are necessary throughout life, and it’s a good skill to have.
Critical thinking involves using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or differing approaches to problem solving.
Critical thinking is a skill that will serve you well in any role, but it can be particularly valuable in the dental industry. The ability to analyse a situation or problem and determine novel ways to approach it can assist you greatly in carrying out the daily aspects of your role. It will also come in handy when you need to solve a problem that falls outside of the scope of your normal daily activities.
As a skill, coordination involves adjusting your own actions in relation to the actions of others. When you are involved in a hands-on situation assisting a dentist to carry out a procedure, coordination can be invaluable.
During your dental assistant course, you’ll learn specific methods of assisting the dentist, such as the method in which you’ll be required to hand over tools and deal with certain aspects of dental procedures. Strong coordination skills will make it far easier to learn these lessons and apply them during the day to day actions in your role.
This skill involves monitoring and assessing the performance of not only yourself but also other individuals and organisations in order to make improvements or take corrective action.
Monitoring is a particularly important skill in all roles in the health industry. You will need to continuously improve your own actions, something that is significantly easier when you can objectively assess how well you are carrying out the responsibilities your role requires. You will also need to ensure that during long days of practice, the dentist is able to fulfil their own responsibilities.
Being aware of others’ reactions and gaining an understanding of why they act in the way they do is an invaluable life skill. High levels of social perceptiveness will allow you to gain an insight into the motivations behind peoples’ actions and give you a wider avenue of approaches to dealing with them.
You can improve social perceptiveness by working on your empathy skills and taking the time to understand the emotional and motivational drivers behind the actions that people take at work and in social situations.
A role as a dental assistant can be very fulfilling and incredibly rewarding. If you think you’ve got what it takes to be a successful dental assistant, get in touch with us for a chat about your aspirations and we’ll help you formulate a plan to achieve the career you deserve.
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