In many practices, dental assistants are often not valued for their contribution to the practice. This is one of the many reasons that the dental industry is now suffering from a shortage of CDA’s. CDA’s were never seen as producers as hygienists were and they have never been valued for treatment acceptance or adding value to the practice, so their average hourly wage remained below others in the dental industry and consequently, it has become a profession that has attracted very few applicants to their education programs.
Other than the obvious point of CDA’s being chairside to assist the dentist in completing procedures there are many other ways in which the CDA is a pivotal player in dental offices and should be recognized as such.
Some of the areas where CDA’s add value to your practice are:
- Productivity, an efficient CDA will allow a dentist to be efficient and be more productive through the day. This decreases stress for the dentist and can help prevent burn out for the dentist.
- Treatment Acceptance can be improved with a well-versed CDA, very often patients can be embarrassed to ask questions of the dentist worrying that their questions are silly. When the dentist leaves the room a simple question from the CDA “How did that sound to you?” could provide your patient with the final pieces of information that they need to make the decision to move forward with treatment.
- CDA’s are responsible for IPAC in the office. There is no dollar figure that can be put on patient and provider safety.
- In most office’s one of the CDA’s is responsible for purchasing sundries and ordering in your office. Your monthly sundries expenditures are reliant on the CDA’s relationship with your suppliers. Over the course of a year a savvy CDA can save the office thousands of dollars. There is nothing more frustrating than not having the necessary materials for a procedure.
When looking for a new CDA in your office you will want to look for a person who is able to wear many hats. They will need to be able to provide compassionate patient care and be a team player with the rest of the office. They will need to be prepared and to be patient during procedures, as we know very often procedures don’t always happen in the way that they were initially planned. They will need to take ownership of their work and have the initiative to make suggestions to improve areas of the office. As it is often teased, they also need to be able to connect with the dentist using “Jedi mind games” to anticipate the dentists needs in advance.
If you are a dentist who likes to learn, ensure that your chairside CDA learns alongside of you by sharing your CE with them or having them join you in taking a course. Keeping the interest of a good CDA will help with their growth and they will recognize that you acknowledge their importance to the office.
Creating a culture where all team members are valued will allow you to ask “what CDA shortage?” as your team won’t even think of looking for greener pastures.