Monday, December 16, 2013

Dentist's view of Good Dental Assistant

I was looking on the web for articles about dental assistants. 
I came across one question on Yahoo answers:
The question is "What makes a person a good dental Assistant". A dentist answered the following
"Obviously, personality goes a long way. Your personality should be similar to that of the doctor with whom you work. If you're loud and rambunctious and your doctor is quiet and reserved, he/she will not like you. 

Appearance is important. If you look like a punk, you'll be treated like one and your stay in the practice will be short-lived. We run a doctor's office, and our staff should dress and carry themselves accordingly.

Ability is also paramount. Some assistants don't know where to put the suction and don't know how to retract the cheek. Furthermore, some assistants are great at keeping the doctor's mirror clean. Others are terrible in that respect. Furthermore, a good dental assistant will never let the doctor "work underwater". Being skilled at keeping the tooth dry is of paramount importance.

Knowing how to take good x-rays. Unless the practice uses digital x-rays, an assistant who has to repeat x-rays is more of a detriment to the doctor than a help. Simply "getting" the tooth on the film isn't enough. The tooth shouldn't be elongated or shortened much in the film.

Knowing your instruments. There are few things more frustrating than asking an assistant for a Potts or a Woodson Periostial during a difficult surgery case and receiving a blank stare. When you start in your new practice, learn the names of all of the instruments ASAP, and know what they are used for. Do whatever you can to memorize this stuff. I work with assistants who have been in the practice longer than I have and STILL don't know some of the things I ask for. It's annoying, and it's shameful. But I love the ones who know the instruments and their uses.

Having things set-up properly. Don't cut corners. If your doctor is doing endo, have everything set up. It's exquisitely annoying when I reach for the endo handpiece and, oops, it's not there. Or when I'm placing a composite filling and, oops, the curing light isn't there.

Never pass blame on to someone else. That kind of nonsense doesn't fly with us. We don't care who forgot to replace the burs in the bur block, and we don't care who forgot to re-stock the anesthetic in that operatory. If you're assisting with the procedure, it's YOUR responsibility to make sure that everything we need is there.

Show initiative, and take responsibility for the upkeep of the operatories. I cannot tell you how many times I've worked on patients where I had no light coming from the handpiece because the bulbs on the hoses burned out. If I didn't mention it to the assistants, I could work for 10 years before any of them noticed it. Look around and see what needs to be fixed, replaced, cleaned, etc. You are the ones who keep us running smoothly.

NEVER try to diagnose patients. Some of the more experienced (or gutsy) assistants try. They seem to think that over the years they've heard us say to patients pretty-much everything there is to know about the science of dentistry, and therefore able to usurp some of the diagnostic responsibility. When you try to diagnose, you are going to be partially wrong or completely wrong on anything that isn't just plain obvious...even if you're an experienced assistant. When the doctor comes in and gives the patient the diagnosis, the patient responds, "but your assistant said.....". We hate that. We don't want our patients being primed with ideas in their heads that we wouldn't want there. Let the doctor do the diagnosing.

Never predict treatments. Never tell a patient "you are probably going to need a root canal on this tooth" unless the doctor told you to inform the patient. I've had assistants do this and it is patently inappropriate.

Know when to ask for help from the doctor. Some assistants with whom I work will spend up to an hour making a temporary crown when they should have asked me for help 45 minutes earlier. We don't mind helping you with such things. We don't expect you to be able to do such things all the time. We'd rather see it done right, regardless of who does it.

General attitude. As long as you're not a complete air-head, your attitude towards your work goes a long way. If you don't give a s**t, it's going to be evident to us.

That list above is pretty complete. Now, don't think that I'm a complete jerk because of this list. I treat my assistants very well, and take them out to lunch almost every week....whether they do a good job or not!"

Source :
I think this is very good for all assistants who want to do an excellent job. A dentist must be the best one to talk about the qualities of a good assistant.
Me and Bindu love comments. So, please go ahead and say what you think.
In the future posts we will discuss about my own dental assisting experiences and what do I like to see in a good boss.
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