In any dental practices dental assistance are playing an important role in organising, managing and assisting dentist to perform treatments for dental patients. Dentists and dental practice owners shall be aware about the importance of developing dental assistance staff skills and knowledge. In this white paper we will be reviewing number of literatures that discuss the importance of developing staff skills and what are the benefits of staff engagement to the performance outcomes of dental practices.
Most of literatures agreed that dental assistances formed important part of internal stakeholders for any dental practice. Adding to that dental assistances are categorised as high power with high impact role as a stakeholder. Mauno,Kinnunen and Ruokolainen (2007, cited in The King’s Fund, 2012a) concluded that the best predictor of staff engagement to give them control over how they work. This is important in improving healthcare performance because staff engagement enhances patient experience and increases staff satisfaction (The King’s Fund, 2012a). The challenges also is reflecting on the dental practices too. In the literature listening to employees is regarded an important communication skill that leaders need to develop and it is a form of staff engagement (Macmillan, 2011). The latter is one of the Leadership management at the dental practice dimensions that recognized its role in quality improvement as engaging the team of the dental facility leads to improve patient and staff experience and enhanced overall outcomes (NHS employers, 2013).
In addition to that, the service profit chain framework highlights the importance of staff including dental assistances satisfaction as well and its overall contribution to enhanced profitability through providing quality services to the patients (Storey & Holti, 2013). The link between staff and patient satisfaction is evident in a staff survey cited by West and Dawson in The King’s Fund (2012a) where they stated that staff engagement leads to patient satisfaction.
The King’s fund (2014b) described staff engagement as the driver that influences staff behaviours leading to better health, lower absenteeism, job satisfaction and reduced turnover which will, besides other factors, improve patient satisfaction, increase profits and eventually enhance the overall performance.
Although there are some dental facilities culture are supportive of staff engagement, the dental facility management’s findings report that staff and specially dental assistances are cultured to carry out orders based on certain working circumstances such as fear of doing things wrong, losing their job or being subject to increase in working load. There is an effort by the dental facilities to engage staff and the progress evaluation for those efforts is acceptable. Staff involvement and supporting staff with a ‘can do attitude’ supports organisational innovation and performance (NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, 2008). The Kings Fund (2012) reports that engaged staff deliver better outcomes for patients and organisations.
There is an opportunity to improve dental engagement which may lead to override the poor staff engagement which is slowing the organisation’s achievement of objectives. According to Clark and Nath (2014), medical engagement should lead to enhanced clinical and organisational outcomes and makes a critical contribution to achieving innovation and improvement for patients. Meanwhile, another report from Dixon et al. (2011) concludes that general practice has an important contribution to make to improve public health and in reducing health inequalities. However the National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare (2008) argued that clinical and staff engagement remains a hollow sound-bite, with little in the way of levers, budgets and power to support it, and becomes merely an option to participate in a committee rather than an opportunity to encourage real practical change at a practice level on an ongoing basis.
Dentists and dental practice owners shall be able to identify poor staff engagement in their dental facilities and concluding that their strategy towards improving staff engagement is facing failure and could not depend only on a reward and punishment strategy. It is important to accept the fact that creating an engaging atmosphere where value is given to the ideas of the staff will result in proper communication and staff engagement and give accountability to the staff for self-management.
The style of the organisation enhance by empowering management leadership decisions, improving staff engagement and evaluating the outcomes of organisation performance. According to West et al. (2014), if dentists and managers create a positive, supportive environment for staff, the staff in turn creates a caring and supportive environment and deliver higher-quality care for patients. The need for full staff and especially dental assistance engagement remains a core of organisational success and service sustainability (Naylor and Appleby, 2012, p15).
It is the responsibility of dentists and dental practice owners as team leader to motivate, inform, and communicate openly whilst allowing the staff to contribute through dialogue between themselves and management (Human resources management, 2011)
About the Author:
Dr.Hisham M Safadi (Hisham Safadi ) BDS & MSc Leadership and Management in Health Care Practice form the University of Salford where his Master dissertation was in the effect of Emotional Intelligence on improving Dentistry care in Middle East. He was born and raised in the Emirates of Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates. Dr.Safadi had start his professional career as a dentist then turn to the field of managing medical facilities and investment management. His main interest is business start-up, leadership and mentoring. Currently he is leading several projects in Manchester that is related to enhance patient experience and improving leadership style through education.
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- Macmillan, M. (2011). A “coach approach” to staff engagement. Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 6(2). Retrieved from http://journal.lib.uoguelph.ca
- Naylor, C. and Appleby, J. (2012). Sustainable health and social care. pp.2-21. [Online] The King’s Fund. Available at: http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/sustainable-health-and-social-care [Accessed 28 Dec. 2014].
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- The King’s Fund. (2014b). Improving NHS care by engaging staff and devolving decision-making. Retrieved from http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/sites/files/kf/field/field_publication_file/improving-nhs-care-by-engaging-staff-and-devolving-decision-making-jul14.pdf
- West, M., Eckert, R., Steward, K. and Pasmore, B. (2014). Developing collective leadership for health care. [Online] The King’s Fund. Available at: http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/developing-collective-leadership-health-care [Accessed 27 Dec. 2014].
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