When dental assistants want to expand their roles and further their careers, some move on to become dental office managers. Office managers contend that dental assistants are ideally suited for the position. Assistants understand the inner workings of the office and how to work productively so the practice can thrive. We caught up with some office managers to learn about the specific traits dental assistants need to transition to and excel as dental office managers.
Dental office managers serve as leaders in the practice. They oversee day-to-day operations so their dentists can concentrate on patient care. Their wide-ranging duties may include supervising staff, maintaining appointment schedules, coordinating patient treatment, managing finances, keeping up with government regulations and filing insurance claims. Because dental assistants juggle a variety of clinical and administrative duties, they have the foundational skills to potentially succeed as dental office managers.
“As a former assistant, I know assistants can make or break a dental office. They do so much to make the office work. So their background is an asset if they want to go further and become an office manager.” — Cindy S., FAADOM
Organized to a T
Like dental assistants, dental office managers are extremely organized. They enjoy creating and implementing policies, procedures, schedules and systems that make the office run smoothly. Staying organized helps the team focus on their duties and creates a pleasant experience for patients.
“Organization skills are crucial. You have to be able to put systems into place so the office can be functional and profitable.” — Julie V., CDA, FAADOM
Dental office managers collaborate with a variety of people daily. They may discuss treatment and financial arrangements with patients. Staff members turn to them for guidance and support. In addition, office managers often work with vendors and insurance companies. So excellent office managers are adept at developing rapport with people and communicating with them effectively — skills that dental assistants take pride in having.
“One of the reasons dental assistants do so well moving up to dental managers is because they have great people skills. They know how to interact, listen and communicate with people. Most duties of a dental office manager are teachable. The people skills are not.” — Lisa S., FAADOM
The best dental office managers inspire and motivate their teams to excel and grow. They empower the staff to perform their tasks without micromanaging them. They also encourage them to take initiative and bring forth innovative ideas that will help the practice succeed. In addition, good office managers invest in their team’s continuing education and professional development.
“Dental office managers motivate and elevate the team to the next level. You want to lead your team in such a way that one day they’ll be leaders, too.” — Lisa S., FAADOM
The fast-paced, stressful nature of a dental practice means that dental office managers must think on their feet when problems arise. From accommodating a last-minute patient without throwing the schedule into chaos to mediating conflicts between staff, excellent office managers are always ready to tackle unexpected issues creatively and calmly.
“There’s a solution to any type of problem. You just have to think outside the box and take the ball and run with it.” — Julie V., CDA, FAADOM
What other qualities do dental assistants need to succeed as office managers?