The Value of Continuing Education for Dental Assistants

I Am Still Learning sign

An old proverb states that “education is a gift that none can take away.” Whether it’s for yourself, your patients, or your team, we all benefit from improving our education.

To be a doctor is to be an educator—the word “doctor” means “teacher.” Both your patients and your team members will naturally look to your knowledge and experience to help them make better decisions about oral health.

Educate Your Patients

I’ve always believed that patient education is the pillar of any good dental practice, especially pediatrics. Educated patients can take responsibility and ownership for their treatment. They’ll trust you further, stay with you longer, and be more likely to send referrals your way.

Providing patients and parents with the dental information they need improves case acceptance, justifying the treatment that your practice recommends. We live in an information-driven world, with unprecedented access to knowledge (and cute cat pictures).

But are your patients receiving that information? What can you do to make sure they get the message?

Perhaps you’re doing your part in the practice, utilizing educational videos and pamphlets to teach patients about oral health and treatment options. But are your patients and parents really reading them?

While there are some that still prefer to hold paper in their hands to read, we are left with a problem of distribution. Such materials are only reaching those who are in your office, patients that you’ll have a chance to talk to in person.

Many of your patients will want to know as much as they can before they set foot in your practice. The first place they are likely to turn to is the internet, and that means that your patient education needs to start there.

While the information they need is out there somewhere, they are most interested in a source that they trust. Rather than let them wander around the Wild West of the internet, your website could be the first stop for patients and prospective patients looking for information.

A good patient education strategy should be diverse, using multiple avenues to disseminate information. Include blogging, newsletters, and social media with your in-practice presentations, pamphlets, and videos.

Educate Your Team Members

No matter where you are in your dental career, you’ll never be able to coast on everything you’ve already learned. Dentistry is advancing all the time, and there is a constant need to keep up with the latest tools and techniques.

The same holds true for everyone on your team. As a dentist, you’d like to be able to delegate all non-essential tasks to your assistants, hygienists, or administrators, so that you can focus completely on procedures that require your expertise.

They are also your front line. Your assistants probably spend more time with each patient than you do, and are in a better position to talk with or interact with those patients. This is why it’s important for your dental assistants to continue to improve their proficiency, knowledge, and communication skills.

Knowledgeable and confident dental assistants are going to build trust in your practice and improve case acceptance. It’s to everyone’s benefit to help them continue their education.

A dental assistant’s education only begins with school; just like you, they’ll need to continue developing throughout their career. Following their initial training, they’ll learn hands-on from you and experienced members of your team.

But that isn’t enough.

I began the PDTA because there is a shortage of educational and training opportunities for pediatric dental assistants. The PDTA is a recognized provider in the ADA Continuing Education Recognition Program, so your team will earn their CE credits through participation at our annual conference.

Education is not the answer to the question. Education is the means to the answer to all questions.” William Allin

There is no end to education. The whole of your life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, you’ll continue learning. It is a key with the potential to unlock many doors. Education is a value that you should always promote within your practice, with your patients, and with your team members.

Get the most out of your team by enrolling in the PDTA and give the gift on continuing education to your team! Or, enter our Find the Viking contest for a chance to win a FREE ticket to our upcoming conference – that’s a $497 value!

~ Dr. Rhea Haugseth