News |3 min read

Why Is Cross-Training Important?

Pam Good Michelson, FAADOM with text, "Real-world insights from AADOM authors"

It’s been quite the year already, and probably one that no one will forget about anytime soon. We learned that one can never know what will happen and how it’ll affect our lives or our dental practices.

The importance of cross-training: A true story

2020 started out with our front office receptionist being absent more than normal because of family and health issues. She missed all but one day of the first two weeks of March. She came back and worked a Thursday, came to the Friday staff meeting, and then we were shut down for the COVID-19 lockdown.

We received the news at the end of April that we would be able to open back up in May to treat patients.

I reached out to our staff member to see if she was going to be able to return to work, but due to her health and being high-risk, her doctor wasn’t going to let her.

We already knew that our front office was busy enough prior to the shutdown that we needed to hire a third person, much less find a replacement for our receptionist who was out on medical leave.

Cross-training between the back and front office

One of our dental assistants had been cross-trained between the back and front office, but she left to start hygiene school last fall. She’s a very responsible individual, so I could always rely on her to cover my position when I was out of the office for one reason or another. Her background prior to dentistry was working in insurance.

We were excited to learn that we could bring her back to work as our insurance coordinator since the college had closed its classrooms during the pandemic. This would give our other staff member time to recover and hopefully be released back to work by the time the one who was a hygiene student had to go back to school.

Although we solved the first problem, we needed to hire a schedule coordinator. Instead, we decided to take our third assistant from the back and train her to be a scheduling coordinator.

It helped that she already knew the ins and outs of how the doctor likes to have his schedule set. Plus, she knows the patients, and the patients like seeing a familiar face in the front office.

We could actually help “share” her between the front and back of the office. She can help the hygienists when they need assistance with charting, changing over their rooms, and sterilization. Our front office staff has always been trained to help in the back as well.

We just hired a sterilization technician to help the back staff so that the front office will not have to go to the back as often. This move was an overall great solution in keeping our practice running as smoothly as possible.

Everyone involved has been fully on board and willing to help wherever and however they can.

No matter who you are or what role you play in the office, it’s so important to utilize everyone and their strengths and keep a well-run practice.

Getting through a shutdown shorthanded would not have happened if we were not proactive in cross-training our staff ahead of time.

Meet the Author

Pam Good Michelson in a black top outsidePam has worked in the dental field for over 20 years. She’s passionate about building relationships with patients and educating them about their dental health, treatment options, and how their insurance coverage works.

She’s a strong believer in continuing education and is a self-proclaimed lifelong learner. Pam earned her FAADOM in 2019 and is currently serving as a board member for the Central Oregon AADOM Chapter… This text opens a new tab to the chapter’s website….



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