Welcome to 2023 . . . interview with Claire Dickinson

Claire Dickinson
Claire Dickinson

Claire is an Executive Level Dental Coach, Operator and Consultant.  Her experience has been gleaned over a 25 year career spanning clinical, administrative and business functions on a dental team. 

Claire Dickinson with Vityl Management sit down and discuss 2023. “This is the year of organization” says Claire describing what this year brings to the dental practice. Listen as we talk about outlining job descriptions, cross training and delegating tasks.

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Below you will find the full transcript of our interview translated by OtterAI. Please ignore the grammar errors and misspellings.

Dayna Johnson  0:08 

We are super excited you have found Novonee on the Go, the Premier Dentrix Communities free podcast. I’m Dayna Johnson, the founder of Novonee, and my goal is to give you about 15 minutes of juicy content to take back to your practice and help your team have a more productive and less stressful day. Enjoy.

Hey, welcome everyone. I’m Dayna Johnson, your Dentrix expert. And my goal is to help dentists and dental teams understand their Dentrix software better. So you can create systems to improve the profitability of your practice, optimize your appointment book and have a more stress free day. I started Novonee to be able to give all Dentrix users a platform to attend live one on one events with me and tap into best practices resources for optimizing your Dentrix software. If you want to become a member of our exclusive membership, go to novotney.com and sign up today.

So hey, welcome to 2023 Oh my gosh, this is our first podcast of the new year. So I hope everyone had a safe and fun and

joyous holiday. I know that Kevin and I are celebrating the new year when this podcast hits your airwaves. Kevin and I are celebrating the New Year overseas and so my amazing team has helped me to answer questions and watch everything. So we are enjoying our 10 year anniversary. overseas while this podcast hits your phone, your podcast player, and I am joined today by one of my besties in the dental industry. My good friend and fellow colleague, Claire Dickinson with Puget Sound perio. She has been on the podcast many times and we love to kick off New Year’s new quarters, new topics, we usually like to kind of give the overall agenda of what’s coming up. And so Claire and I have known each other for gosh, over 20 years. And I love to have her on because she gives this fresh, unique perspective on a lot of our topics. So welcome, Claire. Thank you for having me, Dana. Yeah, I am excited because this is our first podcast of the new year. And so since you and I have talked, a lot of things have happened. You know, you’ve kind of made a change in your you moved from Colorado up to Washington, back up to Washington to be closer to Puget Sound perio and your husband. Tony is joining you and as is part of Puget Sound perio. So that’s kind of exciting.

Claire Dickinson  3:14 

Yeah, very exciting, big shift, for sure. big shift. I know, I know.

Dayna Johnson  3:19 

So, um, we’re going to kick off 2023 with a few different things. What I really want,well, let me back up, when I go into offices, or I’m talking to a doctor or on talking to a team member. A lot of times what I asked them is, you know, will tell me about like, what’s your primary role in the office because I like to get an idea of, you know, who I’m working with, who I’m talking to. And so when I work with team members, I like to be able to know what their primary role is in the office. So I can help tailor my training, tailor the topics and the agenda, you know, to meet the needs of the office, what I find a lot is that I hear back, well, I just do whatever, or I do everything, you know, and it doesn’t really feel like teams have a an organized, you know, way of of outlining their job descriptions or, you know, assigning team members, like what is your primary secondary role? Do you find that as well in your experience?

Claire Dickinson  4:35 

I do, especially the smaller the practice and I think it stemmed from the fact that you know, we come in with, you know, our respective job descriptions or job roles, you know, you get hired as an assistant, a hygienist, a business team member, yet you know, it’s all hands on deck. It’s, you know, all hands on deck when it comes to dental office, right. So you may be an assistant but you see that there’s a need, like the phones terrain or, you know, a patient has a need in the back, and you’re on the business team. And so everybody just jumps into volunteer and, you know, help out as much as possible for the greater good of the practice. But, you know, as you stated, lines get blurred that way. And it’s more of a reactionary perspective to the outcome versus a proactive. I agree. Yes. I agree with that outcome.

Dayna Johnson  5:24 

Yeah, being proactive is I feel like, when you don’t have a plan, then you are just reactive to the situation. Yeah. And, yeah, and, you know, same thing goes with your appointment book, you know, it’s like you have an opening in the schedule. So now you’re reactive to this opening, instead of having a more of a proactive plan for your schedule and your appointment book. You know, that’s a whole nother a whole other topic.

But,you know, when we’re talking about team members, and what’s their role in the office, I feel like, I feel like a lot of the team members I hear, you know, they feel like they get to the end of the day, and they didn’t get anything done. Right. And yeah, I mean, what do you feel about that? Do you hear that, too?

Claire Dickinson  6:15 

I do. You know, the common thing that I hear is, I just don’t have enough time. I just don’t time. And, you know, I understand that I’m like I’ve I’ve, I have sat in almost every chair in a dental office, every role within my license. And I do understand how that feels. And I understand where it’s born from. But I think a very conservative, concerted effort to understanding what your job description is in your role, not that you shouldn’t help other people in their positions, because we should, but being very clear about what your primary outcome is, and your secondary outcome and what is emergent versus secondary to the things that have to be taken care of.

Dayna Johnson  6:58 

Exactly, exactly. You know, I do, I do both you and I strongly agree on cross training. And that, even with, you know, the hygienist say, we have the hygienist. Her primary role, of course, is that she is an oral health care provider. She is a dental educator, you know, she treats periodontal disease, you know, our dental hygienist, they know what their primary role is in the office, of course, but what is her secondary role? Well, her secondary role would be that she would need to help fill the schedule. And when the hygienist has an opening in her schedule, unexpectedly, then we want to make sure that what is your hygienist secondary role? So if she has an opening in her schedule, then what does she do? Well, she doesn’t go into the lunch room and open up, you know, a magazine and start flipping through a magazine or she doesn’t, you know, jump into something else. It’s non productive, you know, what is the most productive thing that she could do? And that would be to help fill the schedule? You know, so outlining those those job descriptions, the primary role, a secondary role, and you had a really good term for it as well.

Do you feel that officers just kind of they think that it should just go without saying they just don’t really write it down? Or what do you think is the primary reason why officers don’t have those clearly laid out?

Claire Dickinson  8:35 

Well, I, you know, I, I want to believe that many offices do take the time to put job descriptions together. And I know that there’s a few that down, it just is assumed, like if you’re a dental assistant, you know what that means.

But on either side of the spectrum, whether it’s clearly defined or not clearly defined, it takes more than that, like you, you need to clearly define what the role is what the primary function secondary function would be for that position, and then also outline what the intended outcome is. So in a lot of job descriptions, I find that the outcome is missing the overarching outcome. And then we also have to go back and revisit it. So it’s not a set it and forget it type of thing, where you have a job description for 20 years ago for a dental assistant, that that’s what we’re using to onboard all our new employees. Right. So it’s something that constantly needs to be revisited, especially in our current, let’s say state of affairs, for lack of better term when we have, you know, we do have a staffing shortage, right of people within dental offices. So how do we maximize the people that we do have in their job descriptions, and what things can we revisit to say, gosh, you know, this doesn’t really fit within the job description anymore, or what can we outsource? Or, you know, what can we add to the job description because there may be things that we never even thought of where, you know, let’s say a dental assistant says no, you know, I really want to take care of this, although it falls outside of my job description. So it’s revisiting it over and over and over again. So it meets the uniqueness of your particular practice. And so we’re making sure that all the different elements of a successful, you know, whatever your goal is profitable, let’s say work life balance, whatever your the goal of your practice is, all those needs are being met to reach the outcome.

Dayna Johnson  10:29 

Yeah, I like what you said about making sure that you outline what the outcome is, like, what results are you looking for, for this, this job description, you know, sample, if it’s the financial coordinator, it’s the, you know, whoever’s managing the accounts receivable, the outcome, of course, is collecting money and making sure that, that the accounts receivable is at a certain goal, a certain range, you know, so, you know, the overarching, 37,000 foot view for this job description is, what is the outcome that you want for this, this job description. And then there’s all the tasks that are associated with this job description, you know, a lot of team members work really well with a task list. And some people don’t need a task list, you know, so I think it’s important to document what’s the what’s the vision of this this role? What’s the outcome required in this role? And then what are all the tasks associated with this role? And the tasks is really where you really get into the weeds, you know, you look at okay, what report inside of Dentrix? Are you running? How do you how do you generate this report? Where do you document notes, when you’re making calls from this report, you know, those are all the thing, the weeds that you get into, but that also all has to be documented inside of this job description so that people when you are onboarding, or you are revisiting a job description, that you see all these tasks that are associated with this job description, and you have all those documented as well.

Claire Dickinson  12:22 

Correct. And then you know, going into multitasking, and putting all that stuff that we just discussed, like, on paper, or however you store your information, you know, digital or on paper or whatever, having a team meeting where we can discuss by department, what it looks like, and what those roles are. So then when we do have situations where we have to multitask, there is a much clearer vision, or much clearer picture of what needs to happen. So when you are supporting another team member, you know, what they’re facing, and you can say, hey, you know, what do you need help with? Where are you at? So then it’s not, you’re not asking someone to train you when they’re already behind? Right?

Dayna Johnson  13:09 

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, you need those tools. So that if you have a team member that is needs to take an extended leave of absence, and now you have some, you know, the team members are like, we’re gonna rally, we’re gonna pick up those tasks while you’re out of town. Just tell me what needs to be done. And you can, you know, hand them this list of tasks and say, this is these are the things that I do every day. And, you know, how can we delegate those out to other team members, you know, maybe the dental assistant can follow up on unscheduled treatment, or, you know, the hygienist can call patients that are overdue for re care. And so, you know, having all those tasks written in the job description, can help for other team members, you know, fit fill in when someone is gone, and also onboarding someone new.

And you know, so one person’s primary role is another person’s secondary role. So I think it’s also important not only to outline this is the primary role and task lists for for this financial coordinator, and then the secondary role and task list for the financial coordinator might be following up on unscheduled treatment where you know, that might be their secondary role so that they know okay, if I, if I am all caught up on my collection calls then what can i What can I do to help my other team members? Exactly, yeah.

Yeah, and you know, another thing that we could dive into we maybe we don’t get to it today, but we can also dive into is a maybe we save this, this topic for next time is having the right person in that job description.

You know, Having the right personality type and the right skill set. And, you know, the the right, you know, body for that job description is also almost just as important as having the job description outlined.

Claire Dickinson  15:18 

Yeah, I actually do. And I think it’s more important than the job description, outline. Because if you have the person in the wrong seat on the bus, it can make something where, you know, from my perspective, it’s like a simple is simply outlined, and I don’t understand why there’s a disconnect there. And it just could be that I have chosen the wrong person. Right. And so getting really granular and detailed about what kind of person fits these roles best, I think, is really important. And, you know, there’s all kinds of different tests that you can do to, you know, figure out what someone’s learning style is, and, you know, whether, you know, there’s a, there’s a book out there about the six geniuses, like if they, you know, what their, their strong suits are, as far as like, do they have tenacity? Or do they not have tenacity or like the things like so for instance, for me, I don’t score really high on tenacity. So don’t ever ask me to proofread an essay, because I’ll get to like, each one. And I’ll be like, yeah, it looks great, right? Because I like quicker, faster, outcome driven, versus the long tedious stuff. So knowing those things about yourself, and then also being, you know, open to, you know, having doing these tests, so you can find, you know, what fits you best, and then the employer will be happier, the employee II will be happier.

You know, like a hygienist, you never want to put hygienist in a position who is not detail oriented, that’s the primary function of their job. Right. So I think it’s more important than the job description itself. Yeah, yeah, I would, I would definitely agree with that, for sure. And having those two pieces, you know, played well together, you have the right person in the right job. And the job outlined in a way that people understand it and can can fit right into it is, is the perfect scenario, the perfect storm, for sure, we have to make sure that we’ve got all those pieces in place, yeah, there’s, we can definitely talk a little bit more about getting the right person in the right seat.

Dayna Johnson  17:28 

But let’s close out our first podcast to 2023 by any last, like last notes about job descriptions, primary role, secondary role, having that outlined, you know, in the in the dental practice, any last minute ideas or thoughts that you might have.

Claire Dickinson  17:55 

So I’m, you know, I’ll share personally for me, 2023, one of the primary goals is year of organization, and, you know, we’re, we are still coming out out of the pandemic. And I think last year was a pretty good start of coming out of the pandemic. But we were still kind of in a, you know, duct tape and hold plugin to try and make everything work, I’m really confident that 2023 will be a lot better for all of us. And we can take more time to get our systems back in place, get our job descriptions and our teams and our agreements and, you know, everything that we need to do so we have, you know, practices that that function efficiently and, and there’s fulfillment there for people and so 2023 is a year of organization for sure.

Dayna Johnson  18:46 

I like that I love that idea. The year of organization, I agree with you 100% That we are still coming out of out of the pandemic and now everybody has this I think clearer vision of where our holes were and like you said, a lot of people plugged up those holes with, with a few band aids. Uh, now we’re really figuring out what it’s going to take to have more of a long term sustainable organization or practice, you know, like we said earlier about job descriptions and outlining those things, I do find that it is less common in the smaller practices, where, you know, the larger practices have usually have a little bit more organization and things written out more clearly. The smaller practices, which are really the practices that I primarily work with, you know, I work with solo practices, usually one to three doctors in the practice and so the smaller practices, somebody because they feel like oh, we don’t really need to do that, you know, we don’t, we just have one person at the front desk, or we have two people at the front desk. And but it is still extremely important to outline what those job descriptions are. Because even if you’re one person at the front desk, now you have to manage all these job descriptions, you are responsible for all of these tasks. And I think that it’s, you know, just as important if you’re a smaller practice to outline, what is the outcome responsible for this job description? What are the tasks needed to get this done so that if you are a one person show at the front desk, that you have the ability to delegate, and these are the tasks that are that you have the ability to delegate so that you aren’t having to train someone? You know, because sometimes people say, well, it’s just faster for me to do it, I’ll just do it. I’ll just stay late and do it myself, well, then you’re going to, then you’re going to get into a burnout situation, for sure. And we want to prevent that. And so I think it is just as important for a smaller practice to have job descriptions outlined with the outcomes you’re looking for, as it is for a larger practice. So that would be my last kind of my last, you know, two cents, if we’re looking into this year, you know, and what can we do to improve our practice and the organization? You know, the year of the organization, like you said, yeah, yeah, and you know, whether it’s a big practice or small, when we’re not organized, or when we have, let’s say, you know, lunchroom conversations over important topics, but it’s not really, you know, a serious conversation. You know, that’s when expectations don’t get met. And then there’s oftentimes team upset or disjoint, because, you know, we didn’t take the time that we felt like wasn’t important to put the stuff in place.

Claire Dickinson  22:02 

So I really encourage people, regardless of your practice, size, to be very open, have a lot of candor and transparent conversation about what does it look like as a participant on this team to serve in this role for the greater good of the practices? A whole bigger small? Exactly, yeah. Here for sure.

Dayna Johnson  22:24 

All right, my friend, we are going to close it out for today.

If this topic today resonated with you, and you know, other doctors or other dental teams that would benefit from our podcast, please share it, rate it, review it wherever you listen to your podcasts, whether it’s on Apple podcasts or Spotify. You know, wherever you listen to podcasts, please rate it, review it, share it. So this really gets the word out about our Novotny family of resources. I look forward to watching your journey of becoming a dentrix super user. Make sure to follow us on all social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn and we look forward to seeing you or hearing you on our next podcast.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai