Highly trained assistants are key to a successful orthodontic practice. Yet training can be a big expense of time and money that when not done right. Here are a few simple things to do to save time and money on training your orthodontic staff.
Commit to Training Staff – and Reduce Turnover
First, it’s important to make the commitment to maintaining a highly trained staff. Some practices cut staff training down to the minimum, not convinced that the time and money invested in training brings results.
But the latest technology and most cutting-edge products on the market only work their best when the people using them have the right skills. Since orthodontic assistants provide so much of the hands-on care in the practice, it’s important they have training to a high standard in order to give the patient a better outcome. Some practices settle for having their assistants shadow someone with a little experience, but this isn’t enough; they should be trained and certified by the Academy of Orthodontic Assisting, which is recognized by the American Association of Orthodontists).
So how does committing to spending time and money on staff training save you time and money on staff training? Easy – by cutting down on turnover. Each time an assistant or other member of your staff leaves, you need to spend time and resources to recruit, interview, hire, and train a new employee. Training and development opportunities are directly tied to employee engagement and employee satisfaction which are tied to lower turnover. By committing to training your staff thoroughly and continuously, you’re investing in the long-term success of your practice.
Look Online for Efficiency and Consistency
For a long time, orthodontic assistants got their training on the job, as there were no other options. As I started my practice, I found that on-the-job training was not a good use of time and didn’t produce the best results. I wanted something more standardized, efficient, and effective.
Nowadays we have many options at our fingertips, with the Internet offering up training that can be done anywhere and anytime. It’s easier to keep track of individual staff members’ progress and you know that when they’ve finished the course, they’ve all learned the same information to the same standard.
Choosing web-based training is an efficient and consistent way to train staff that saves time and money by reducing lost productivity and helping staff get up to speed faster. It can also cut down on travel time and expenses, if you sent staff out of town for training, or instructor costs, if you brought trainers in-house.
(Full disclosure: I am the founder and academic director of Trapezio, an online program for training and certification of orthodontic staff. I developed it in the mid 1990s because I was frustrated with the lack of training options available, and over the years it’s grown and is now endorsed by the American Association of Orthodontists. It’s what I use to train all my staff and needless to say I am a big proponent of it.)
Evaluate and Audit Your Training Periodically
The biggest waste of time and money occurs when the training you’ve invested in isn’t hitting the mark. That’s why you must know what your goals are for any training program before you put any staff member through it, and you must know how to evaluate how effective it is once they’ve completed it.
If you see that a training program you’re spending money on, whether online or in person, isn’t yielding the real-life results you were expecting, nix it and find an alternative that does bring the results you want. Even if it costs more upfront, it’s a better value than training that provides no tangible return.
Training Encompasses the Whole Practice
Most of this blog has been specifically about training orthodontic assistants to do their job, but this advice goes for the other training in your office, too. Training for the whole staff can improve the patient experience, making for a more successful practice, and a safer, more pleasant work environment for everyone. Making the commitment to train every member of staff to do what they do to the highest standards will take your practice to the next level, and by turning to the Internet and periodically evaluating your training programs, you will save time and money in the long run.