Achieving Management Nirvana in the Dental Practice

Dr Michael Sernik, August 2015 -  

Recently a client dentist said to me that he found the Prime videos very useful.
I asked him how was he using them. He said he was watching them by himself but would tell each team member things that he had learned.

This is an understandable misconception of the real value of the training videos. The most lasting benefit from the videos is not what’s in the videos. Sure, the videos are information-rich. They are packed to the brim with useful ideas. Most people watch them many times and pause to take notes and add actions. But that’s still missing the point.

It’s not just about the content. It’s also about a process.

The biggest benefit comes from having the team meet on a regular basis: identifying problems together, discussing the solutions together, coming up with actions together, allocating the role of who will document their new protocols (we call this creating How-We’s…pronounced Howies…how we do things in our practice) together. Our videos are meant to trigger conversations and actions. They are a catalyst for creating a collaborative team culture.

One of the most stressful aspects of working in a dental practice is that most problems keep recurring. We ran late again; a patient was not told everything they should have been told; we didn’t get some information from the patient. Today’s problems are repeats of yesterday’s problems and a prelude to tomorrow’s.

We all expect problems to come up…but when we can’t seem to be able to prevent the same problems recurring, we feel a lack of control. We are frustrated that we are victims of this endless cycle of things going wrong. Then we want to blame someone.

Using the management concept we call the Prime Engine prevents these internal stress fractures. The actual watching of the videos can be done as a group or individually. But the real value comes from how the team work together to apply what they’ve learnt and improve the practice for everyone’s benefit.

Perhaps the misconception stems from people thinking it’s an interactive on-line program. The Prime Engine is an on-line resource designed to facilitate the team interacting with each other. It is closer to being a live training workshop than an online program.

The practice is always being improved from within. Simple guides and checklists for processes (How-We’s) are created by the team.  How-We’s are in a multimedia format: audios, videos, photos and text. The processes and skills are always being tweaked and refined. Things that need to be done are actioned immediately…not deferred. Every team member knows how every process should be done. Even a new team member can quickly master any task by referring to the How-We’s.

The dentist is the leader, not the manager. The dentist can focus on doing the clinical work. The team does the rest; not because they are being instructed, but because everyone loves the process of working collaboratively, reducing stress and making operational improvements for the shared benefit of everyone.

This is the elusive nirvana state derived from being part of Team Managed practice. 

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