News |11 min read

A Complete Guide on Dental Office Manager Duties (& What You Should Say “No” To)

“What’s your job?”

“I’m a dental office manager.”

“Cool. What does that mean?”

“Well, I am the HR specialist, insurance coordinator, accountant, marketing manager…”

To an outsider’s ears, this may sound like Daenerys Targaryen claiming all her titles.

But it’s true!

Dental managers hold many job titles.

“You’re the leader that everyone watches. You’re the CEO and CFO of a company, plus you’re the HR manager along with many other job titles.” – Debbie Evans, DAADOM & Practice Administrator at Wainright & Wassel DDS… This text opens a new tab to the practice’s website…

That’s why:

It’s essential to define what your dental office manager duties are.

And:

Find resources and tactics to help you accomplish each one.

Especially if you’re just starting out in this role.

Otherwise:

You’ll end up overwhelmed, burned out, overworked, and resentful.

Luckily:

This guide is the best place to start.

It covers:

Qualities and characteristics of a successful dental office manager

Dentrix, insurance codes… those are hard skills we’ll get to soon.

But for now:

If you want to succeed in your role, you’ll need to demonstrate soft skills.

These include:

  1. Leadership: Gain your team’s respect and trust.
  2. Accountability: Hold yourself and your team to your practice’s standards.
  3. Professionalism: Keep it friendly but don’t play favorites.
  4. Communication: Instantly avoid problems with clear messages.
  5. Organization: Create systems and streamline work.
  6. Time management: Keep your office running smoothly.
  7. Attention to detail: Don’t let important things fall through the cracks.
  8. Customer service: Maintain positive relationships with patients.
  9. Passion for learning: Keep improving for yourself, your team, and your patients.
  10. Open mind: Always be willing to listen to your team.
  11. Confidence: Trust yourself to make the right decisions.

If you don’t think you possess all these, don’t worry.

What matters most is that you want to gain or improve these skills, and you’re willing to put in the work.

A great place to start building these skills is AADOM’s Office Manager 101 course.… This text opens a new tab to the course…

OM101 Information

  • I'd like to learn more!
    An AADOM Success Strategist will be in touch with more information about OM101 as well as all of the other benefits of membership.

What are dental office manager duties?

Truthfully, there are a lot of duties, and it varies from practice to practice.

But most dental office manager job descriptions include these key responsibilities:

  • Manage business operations (create staff schedules, coordinate day-to-day execution, develop systems, etc.)
  • Work with patients (answer phone calls, handle patient appointments and cancellations, present treatment plans, etc.)
  • Set goals (hold the team accountable, monitor and measure success, etc.)
  • Manage human resources (hire and fire staff, conduct employee evaluations, approve vacation time, etc.)
  • Manage finances (collect bills, manage accounting software, create financial reports, etc.)
  • Market the practice (manage the website and social media accounts, request referrals, etc.)

Are you expected to know everything after only one year?

No. Any sound-minded dentist will understand there’s a lot to know and that you’ve probably only scratched the surface.

But:

Should you have a high-level understanding of your job’s duties?

Yes!

You shouldn’t need a ton of handholding to perform your job.

You should have a grasp and be willing to learn all the nuances of your responsibilities to help your position and practice grow.

What exactly does that entail?

Download our OM101 Year One Checklist.

It lists tasks and responsibilities you should be proficient in by the end of your first year as a manager.

Download the OM101 Year One Checklist

  • Download the OM101 Year One Checklist

What should a dental manager say “No” to?

"Small tasks that can be given to other members of the team help free up our most valuable asset: time." – Claudia Paye, DAADOM

Let’s start with the obvious:

There are certain tasks in the dental practice you may not legally be able to perform, such as cleaning teeth.

As for everything else:

“I don’t think you should say “No” to anything. Office managers do it all and should lead by example. We’re never too important to do any tasks that need to be done. Like unplug the toilet, change light bulbs, etc. You get my drift.” – Debbie Evans, DAADOM

You’re a leader.

Which means:

You shouldn’t put yourself above others or think certain duties are beneath you.

This sets a precedent for others, and this is not how teamwork works.

But:

You can’t do everything.

There are only a certain number of hours in a day.

If you want to keep your practice running smoothly, you need to prioritize and delegate.

“Small tasks that can be given to other members of the team help free up our most valuable asset: time.” – Claudia Paye, DAADOM

Tasks you could delegate include:

  • Creating social media content (or managing it altogether)
  • Writing blogs
  • Asking for referrals and reviews
  • Calling patients

Keep in mind:

Delegating isn’t as easy as saying, “Do this.” You’ll likely need to train the team member, set expectations, and provide support.

Read Claudia’s blog for helpful tips.

How does AADOM help you?

Becoming an AADOM member means you’ll never be alone.

The American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM) provides networking, education, professional development, and a tight community of peers.

You’ll always have people and resources to help you navigate every aspect of your job.

Here’s how AADOM helped long-time AADOM Member and Diplomate, Debbie Evans:

The biggest thing AADOM brings to me is networking, especially since we started a chapter here in Raleigh… This text opens a new tab to the chapter’s website….

The members of our chapter feel like we’re a team; we can discuss all types of things that go on in our practices, and all of us understand the daily management of a dental practice.

We all pick each others’ brains.

I love love love the annual AADOM conference… This text opens a new tab to the conference website…. If you have never been, it’s a must to put on your professional bucket list.

I get so much out of these conferences, and I love meeting so many different people from all over the United States.

At this conference, you get a “comradery” or “tribe” feeling.

I bring home many different services that the sponsors offer with the hope of implementing them into our practice. My doctors love the ideas I bring back from the National Conference!

Another thing about AADOM is it’s instrumental in helping a manager stay current with the latest information.

"One of the greatest things about AADOM is access to education." - Debbie Evans, DAADOM & Practice Administrator at Wainright & Wassel DDS

One of the greatest things about AADOM is access to education.

Having the education will allow you, as a manager, to step up to the plate and guide your team through challenging times (especially through crises like pandemics).

I am a lifelong learner and want to learn as much as I can to help my team in any way possible.

By obtaining your Fellowship, Mastership, and Diplomate, you’re taking the next step in your career, which will help you make your practice stand out.

An amazing benefit to holding AADOM membership is the abundance of educational resources at your fingertips.”

Her advice for you:

“Learn as much as you can by joining AADOM at the national level and your local AADOM Chapter.

It’s by far the best thing you can do for your career. It’s such a valuable asset for managers to network with other managers in your area and throughout the United States.

Use AADOM’s different Facebook pages and take advantage of everything they have to offer, such as:

  • AADOM live events
  • Educational webinars
  • HR questions answered
  • And much, much more

Log into AADOM’s website and use their learning center and all the other great resources they have to offer.

I would also encourage you to sign up for the annual conference… This text opens a new tab to the conference website….

And last but not least, remember you’re never too old to learn. It’s a continuous journey.”

Take a FREE test drive of AADOM membership

It includes:

  • 1 webinar recording
  • 1 issue of the Observer Magazine
  • A complimentary Q&A session with an AADOM Success Strategist
  • 1 practice management podcast
  • Bonus ebook from an industry leader

Claim this offer today!

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