Most healthcare professionals work collaboratively with others to deliver care. Often it is the combination of skills which provides patients with a holistic experience of support as they progress towards health goals. The discipline of dentistry is not immune to collaborative partnership; rarely do dentists work alone and the supportive team they work with often assists them towards providing their best care for the patient.
Wanting to explore this partnership concept further, we recently had the opportunity to speak with leading dentist Nav Singh Thiara and dental assistant (DA) Angela Dudley who are based at Pacific Smiles Dental in Penrith. Nav and Angela have been working together for a decade and are ideal sources of insight into what makes a successful dentist/DA partnership. Both were happy to share their experiences of why they enjoy going to work each day and working alongside each other.
According to Nav, his view of Angela’s expertise and what she provides is significant, not just for himself but importantly, for their patients as well. Nav says that Angela is “…another clinical support. We’re both on the same page as far as doing what we need to do. She predicts what’s coming next in a procedure and is one step ahead”. This anticipatory planning may seem to the novice to be quite simple, though like any complex set of skills, it can take years to develop a level of unconscious competence – the seamless performance of a skill so that it appears to have become almost second nature.
Working so closely together over hundreds of hours has meant Nav and Angela have developed their own way of communicating which does not always rely on speech. And for those in any doubt about the value of non-verbal communication as an effective means of relaying messages, Nav and Angela are perfect examples of how to do this effectively.
Nav said that often he will say very little to Angela when treating a patient. “I’ll indicate with my hand what I want, or I might point to an instrument and that’s enough for her to know what I need, she’s working right there, with me”, and “In big cases, we might hardly speak to each other – we’re just fully focused on what we need to do and the best way of doing it”.
Nav expanded by saying that the concepts of respect and trust between himself and Angela are integral to a positive outcome for the patient, “but there has to be organisational trust as well, I have to know I have trust in my team and the way we do things, and I do”. Dentistry, by its very nature as a complex field, relies heavily on a combination of clinical expertise and a strong understanding of human connection so Nav’s recognition of this within his team is notable
Finding opportunities to build trust and rapport with patients is clearly a shared goal between Nav and Angela. Nav said that whilst he as the dentist needs to identify and treat clinical issues, Angela’s input into patient’s care is considerable. “She remembers their names, details about their families, what they talked about the last time they were in” and adds “there’s just this sense of her being very personable with each patient. It means so much to them that we’re not just focusing on their mouth”. He clarifies by saying “If the patient is relaxed and calm, they trust us as a team, and it makes for a better outcome all round”.
And after a procedure has been completed, often it’s Angela who is in contact with the patient to check all is going well. Nav identified that this ‘checking- in’ is a vital part of delivering a complete service to their patients “I have confidence that she’ll follow up, not necessarily via the receptionist. She’ll just take the initiative and do it herself and I know that if there’s a problem, I’ll be told about it”. Nav added “I know that if the patient had a complex procedure, as well as speaking with them, they’ve got the right instruction sheet and web links which include all the important information they need”.
Dentists and dental assistants- the purposeful partnership
Building any successful relationship requires trust to be at its core. This is also true of the relationship between a dentist and a dental assistant. Trust that they both are there working towards a successful and purposeful partnership that will allow them to provide the right care and experience for the patient, whilst supporting each other is key.
With Pacific Smiles Group, dentists are enabled to focus on their mastery and technique to enjoy a successful and low- stress practice. Retain clinical autonomy without the complications of administration, marketing, training, staffing and regulations when you choose to base your independently operated practice from a Pacific Smiles Dental Centre.
To find out more about practitioner opportunities, visit http://careers.pacificsmilesgroup.com.au/
If you’re interested in becoming part of the team supporting dental practitioners at Pacific Smiles Group please see available opportunities here: http://careers.pacificsmilesgroup.com.au/
For patient enquiries & bookings, visit Pacific Smiles Dental →
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