Embracing Change in Dentistry

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Sometimes it feels like dentistry is changing every day. It can be hard to keep up, but isn’t our responsibility as dental professionals to make sure our patients get the best we have to offer? I have no doubt that 100% of you would answer a resounding YES! I am here to share with you some things that you can do to make the transition to new systems, technology, procedures and equipment easier. 

When I was a practicing dental hygienist, I could comfortably navigate most radiographic images prescribed by the doctor. Then along came digital imaging, and I was faced with a challenging new learning curve for both myself and my patients. It was a frustrating and uncomfortable time for me as I struggled with the sensor and positioning. Even though it took more time than radiography, I knew that digital imaging was here to stay. I would have to lean into the new learning to benefit our practice and patients and ultimately enhance my career skills. Through practice, support from team members and understanding from my patients, I became more competent and proficient not only with digital imaging but in my overall career as well!  

Here are some thoughts I have on embracing the new and combating resistance to change: 

  • Faith — You’ve got to have trust and confidence in the new product, system, or procedure to make those first steps towards learning it. But more than that—you must trust yourself! 

  • Courage — Call on your ability to move ahead despite the discomfort and challenge of learning something new. 

  • Prep-Work — Commit to setting aside some time to prepare before jumping into the fire. Read ‘start-up’ or ‘how-to’ guides, talk to your product representative or research on-line. 

  • Collaboration — Ask for help! Learning together with your team is more fun and usually provides tricks and tips to help ease the transition.

  • Patient Support — It’s okay to ask your patient for their patience and support—you are introducing something new that benefits their care!

  • Self-Compassion — Practicing kindness to yourself is important, especially when things do not go as smoothly as you expected. Understand you are learning something new and with practice the rewards will be two-fold.

  • Celebrate — I believe we do not celebrate enough. We tend to focus on the things that hold us back rather than focusing on what we are doing well. Acknowledge and observe your successes no matter how small.

How would your day unfold if you were to bring these pieces along with you every morning? They make the transition to any new product, instrument, system or procedure in your office much easier, at least that’s what I’ve found! If we truly want to be the best at what we do, we owe it to ourselves to be open to what comes our way.  

It is equally important to recognize that we may have to use some of our own time to prepare and familiarize ourselves with new challenges within our practice. There are opportunities in every province to stay current and up-to-date, like Ontario’s mandatory Quality Assurance Portfolio, and the new outlook you start bringing to your day will make you an indispensable hygienist.

 
 

A dental hygienist for 30 years, Tracy Poirier is a trainer and Master Coach with WinTerra. Her writing has featured in numerous publications and she is passionate about inspiring dental professionals to become their best selves. She is currently working on a book titled 'The Indispensable Hygienist: Where the Good become Better and the Better become EXCELLENT!'