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Skill sets

Expanding your skill set is a valuable investment in your professional development that can significantly enhance job satisfaction.

The idea of what constitutes job or career satisfaction can be different from one person to the next but in general, it really means how happy someone is with their career. This can come from a variety of factors such as pay, benefits, relationships, and career advancement/development.

While compensation and relationship building in the workplace is important, advancing knowledge can boost morale, increase workplace engagement, and promote career satisfaction.

Here are three ways advancing your skill set can unlock greater career satisfaction:

Gain Confidence

One reason individuals are not satisfied in their career is due to lack of confidence or the value they bring to an office. If an office has invested in a new piece of technology, for example, but the dental staff has not received the training to use that technology, they will avoid it. As time moves on, the confidence to use the technology diminishes quickly.

Creating time and space for everyone to use the new technology, increases their confidence. Therefore, increasing patient satisfaction and patient case acceptance.

As scope of practicing dentistry changes for different dental professions, like dental hygiene, taking time to learn new skills creates confidence in the clinician to own their profession and maximize the entirety of their licensure.

Reduce Burnout

Burnout has become a big reason people leave their jobs. Many times, burnout is due to lack of variety, leaving someone with a feeling like work is mundane and not useful or purposeful. They become depressed, exhausted, and are trapped in a negative thought pattern. By gaining new skills someone can ignite their brain in a new and different way.

By gaining new skills, and implementing them into the office, a clinician can add new value and be a benefit to their coworkers and to their patients. This results in a happier, more engaged individual.

Increase Value

An employee can elevate their value in an office if they have a variety of skills that are at their disposal. And these skills must be exercised for the employee to feel that they are contributing.

For example, when a hygienist or a dental assistant, or even a dentist, can integrate the skills they’ve learned, they feel like their time has not been wasted. Plus, they experience the joy of using this knowledge for the patients’ benefit. For example, the use of local anesthesia is not only of value to our patient’s comfort, but it is also valuable for the practice.

Hygienists who can supply pain management for their own patient, frees the doctor from leaving their restorative procedure. Even better, the hygienist can help the doctor by providing anesthesia, preparing the patient for the restorative care that the doctor is about to perform.

In the same manner, a dental assistant can become skilled in intra oral imaging, digital impressions, and rubber cup polishing. Let’s not forget about the value of adding individuals knowledgeable about sleep medicine, myofunctional therapy, guided biofilm therapy, Botox, lasers and more.

How do you gain these skills?

Mentoring:

Connecting with others who are already using the skills you want to learn is a terrific way to learn more about it, so if they’re willing, let them share their learning experiences. A mentor can direct you to resources which can help you. They can also be a guide through your learning process, and act as a sounding board of sorts. They may invite you to one of their learning groups so you can ask questions and learn how to integrate the newly learned skill into your work life.

Courses/Workshops:

Take time to research courses and workshops. You can find in-person and online training programs to aid in an assortment of topics. For example, becoming the infection control coordinator at the office may require several online learning modules to complete to gain this badge of honor.

Explore the skill, like myofunctional therapy, laser use, and local anesthesia delivery, to see if they require certification. In general, certification courses can span multiple days with a combination of lecture and hands-on experience.

Be sure to explore the many conferences that offer mini master class sessions. Connect with someone you know who is using the new skill and find out where and how they learned.

Let’s not forget, if you have new technology brought to the office, show up for the in-office training. Taking that time to understand and use the equipment makes it easier for everyone not just to use the equipment but explain the processes to the patient.

Tips for Success

  1. Carve out 30-60 minutes per day to learn material. Creating time in your busy schedule can be challenging, but you don’t have to crush through the content in large chunks of time.  Plan out 30-60 minutes a day to review the material. That may mean reading instructions, watching videos, or practicing the skill, and many people will do this on their lunch break.
  2. On demand lecture: Find a program with the learning material in a format that works for your busy life. Maybe learning on your lunch break isn’t for you, but perhaps you can learn first thing in the morning before everyone is up, or at the end of the day. Finding a course that works for your schedule is crucial.
  3. Dedicate time for hands on workshops. Learning a new skill often requires hands-on training. Look to see when, where, and how often the hands-on portion of learning is offered. Dedicate that time for you and your skill development. It will pay off in the end.
  4. Have a friend to learn and be accountable with. If you can, find someone to join you in the learning process. While not necessary for your ultimate success, having another person with you to share the highs and lows of learning a new skill is valuable.

Unlock your door to job satisfaction

As you grow as a dental professional, take time to expand your knowledge and skills. You’ll see your overall career satisfaction rise, leaving you with feelings of purpose and reignite the enthusiasm for your profession. Adding new skills can reduce your burnout, increase your confidence, and value your profession.

I encourage you to find someone who has embraced the recent technology or skills you are researching, and create the time to learn and implement this knowledge into your dental practice. Trying these items can help you unlock your career satisfaction.

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