Education Needs to be a Team Effort!

by Shawn Peers, DentalPeers

It is an interesting contradiction to talk to dental students about the importance of learning about the business side of dentistry. The response I receive to offering training on management, human resources, marketing and financial planning is that they are so stressed focusing on the clinical components they need to earn their degrees, they don’t have time to worry about these topics.

Once these same students graduate, however, it does not take long before they all wish they had learned more about business! Thus, for some anyway, the rush to learn as much about business begins.

Unfortunately, this still does not always translate into an improvement in business operations. And while there may be a variety of explanations for this, part of the problem can be the individualistic nature of much of the learning.

Think about it…you read a book on business! You read business articles online! You listen to a business podcast or watch a business webinar! You attend a continuing education program on business and practice management!

You have done a great job moving outside your comfort zone and learning topics that are new to you! In fact, you deserve a pat on the back for your initiative!

But what about the rest of your team?

Running the business-side of your practice is a team effort! Of course, some degree of individual training to sharpen certain business-related skills is always beneficial. Still, an effective, efficient office requires every team member all working toward the same goal even when they are not working on the same task.

That becomes harder to do when you do not learn as a team.

Think about what most MBA programs do. Students are put onto teams from Day 1! Of course, exams are all written individually, as are some assignments. But a large portion of the program is based on group assignments where each team member will be asked to contribute something different from the others.

This is done because business schools understand business success is not always based on what you know. It based on how you can take what you know and work together with others.

There are more and more signs of continuing education providers in dentistry beginning to grasp this concept. Registration as a team is often recommended – in a small number of cases, even required.

Whenever possible, dental teams should attend these continuing education programs as a team. Not only is it a great bonding experience – it is that much easier to get everyone onto the same page when they are beginning with the same information.

Of course, sometimes it is not possible for an entire team to attend. And, even if it is, simply attending together has to be seen as just the beginning of the process of enhancing your education as a team. If you let it stop when you walk out the door of the classroom, you simply will not succeed in improving how the business of your practice is working.

You need a plan for follow-up discussions at the office. Discuss what you learned. Keep in mind everyone will come to such an event with varying levels of experience and knowledge. That means some will learn more from the same information than others. Do any of your team members need follow up training to fully understand what was taught?

When you tackle those issues, how can you implement what you learned in your office? No two offices will do the same task in exactly the same way. What policies and procedures do you need to create or modify to achieve your goals based on what you learned?

It is these areas of implementation where many great plans fail, and your business operations never improve. And the failure is often the result of people forgetting the business of dentistry is a team effort. Learning as an individual will only carry you so far. To truly thrive, you need to take a team-oriented approach to the education of everyone in your office!

About the Author

Shawn Peers is the President of DentalPeers. DentalPeers is one of Canada’s oldest, continuous operating buying groups exclusively for dentists.