by Michelle Strange, MSDH, RDH
After working in one place for a long time, there is a human tendency to become somewhat complacent and move into an almost automated working process. However, as relaxing as this comfort is, it can cause problems because it means that you develop a particular set of responses that prevent you from being the most productive worker. Comfortable workers tend to be perceived as lazy, lack enthusiasm/passion, and settle for the bare minimum instead of going above and beyond. In the field of dentistry, this comfort can result in putting your patients’ well-being in danger.
One reason that people tend to become too comfortable in their working lives is because of a lack of accountability. Without accountability, unproductive behaviors are formed and can result in an environment where mistakes are the accepted norm rather than the exception.
In dental offices, professional mistakes often revolve around patient safety and can be something like forgetting to sterilize certain pieces of equipment. Errors like this can cause delays that upset patient satisfaction, but more seriously, they can be an indicator of lax safety rules. Many dental infection control safety guides have comprehensive directions to ensure as much as possible a reduction in healthcare-associated infections. If dental professionals lack accountability, it is all too easy for these tasks to get overlooked or done with complacency that fails to protect patients.
So, what can we do? Every dental practice needs to instill a sense of responsibility in their teams. The best way to increase accountability is to follow purposeful hiring practices, provide employees with clear deadlines, open clear lines of communication, have regular evaluations, and work tirelessly to have definitive expectations with clearly defined results. Accountability is the best way to build a high functioning team and limit the effects of accepted mediocrity because our patients deserve more than “just ok” when it comes to their care.
1 “4 Signs You’re Too Comfortable in Your Job”. https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-signs-youre-too-comfortable-in-your-job. Accessed 5 Mar. 2020.
2 “Accountability for your actions: Building a dental team culture that matures from its mistakes”. 1 May 2017. https://www.rdhmag.com/career-profession/personal-wellness/article/16409866/accountability-for-your-actions-building-a-dental-team-culture-that-matures-from-its-mistakes. Accessed 5 Mar. 2020.
3 “Environmental Infection Prevention: Guidance for Continuously Maintaining a Safe Patient Care and Survey-Ready Environment” https://store.jcrinc.com/assets/1/7/nexclean_environinfectionprevention_%28002%29.pdf. Accessed 5 Mar. 2020.
4 “3 Ways to Hold Your Dental Team Accountable”. 21 Feb. 2019. https://www.dentistryiq.com/practice-management/staffing/article/16363712/3-ways-to-hold-your-dental-team-accountable. Accessed 5 Mar. 2020.