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In Conversation with Dr. Gregor Jahnke
How to Integrate Non-Specialist Staff into Dental Practices?

How to Integrate Non-Specialist Staff into Dental Practices? 

  • Introducing Dr. Gregor Jahnke, the founder of a digital learning platform called “Assisdenta”

  • The biggest issue plaguing dental practices in Germany and beyond — staffing

  • Introducing Assisdenta, a digital learning platform that helps dental practices train specialized employees

  • Monitoring the employee’s progress through the Assisdenta courses

  • Hiring and training non-specialist staff is incredibly beneficial for the dental practice

          

Dr. Gregor Jahnke

Founder of a Digital Learning Platform called Assisdenta

  • Owner of a dental practice in Mechernich, Germany.

  • Founder of a digital learning platform called Assisdenta.

  • Leads a team of 6 dentists and 35 employees.

  •  Specializes in dental implantology.

  • Dental Practice Website: https://www.dr-jahnke.de/

  • Location of Dental Practice: Bahnhofsberg 5, 53894 Mechernich, Germany

  • Assisdenta Website: https://www.assisdenta.de/

Bahnhofsberg 5, 53894 Mechernich, Deutschland

In Conversation with Dr. Gregor Jahnke

 
 

Dental practices in Germany and beyond are currently experiencing a severe shortage of skilled workers. Employees without prior dental knowledge and experience struggle to cope with the pressures of their jobs. And training new employees in the concepts, lingos, and ideas associated with dental clinics places immense pressure on other employees and dentists. Dr. Gregor Jahnke has founded a digital learning platform called “Assisdenta” to address the severe shortage of skilled employees in dental practices.

Our team at Zircon Medical recently hosted Dr. Jahnke on our podcast series to discuss how non-specialist employees can be effectively and efficiently integrated into dental practices.

Introducing Dr. Gregor Jahnke, the founder of a digital learning platform called “Assisdenta”

Dr. Gregor Jahnke is the leading dentist at a dental practice in Mechernich that’s been around since 1936. Dr. Jahnke knew he wanted to be a dentist, especially since he comes from a long line of dentists extending back to his grandparents. He was particularly inspired to become a dentist while observing his father and mother, both of whom imbued in him a special love for the profession. Following in his father and mother’s footsteps, he joined the dental practice in Mechernich in 1996.

Dr. Jahnke has now been a dentist for around 25 years — he works with a team of six dentists and 35 employees. However, a few years ago, Dr. Jahnke realized that there’s a severe shortage of skilled workers in dental practices in Germany, which, in turn, affects the entire team’s morale and efficiency. Three years ago, Dr. Jahnke and his colleague, Dr. Duc Van Nguy, founded a digital learning platform called “Assisdenta” to integrate non-specialist staff into dental practices.

The biggest issue plaguing dental practices in Germany and beyond — staffing

Dr. Jahnke says that the need to integrate non-specialist staff into dental practices was impressed upon him over several years. Over the decades, his dental practice has grown significantly, and he has hired lots of new employees. He has also been involved with the management of staff, and, in the interest of self-awareness, he admits that he has made several mistakes. “When a staff member leaves the practice,” he says, “ it is usually the fault of the practice owner.”

To address the staffing issue, his dental practice has undergone various structural changes, such as dividing the leadership and holding regular workshops. However, none of that has resolved the primary problems that paved the way for Assisdenta. Dr. Jahnke says dentists from other practices also complain primarily of the lack of trained staff and assistants. He doesn’t come across colleagues complaining of the lack of patients — there are always enough patients — but the lack of staff often necessitates cutting back on hours.

Due to his personal experiences and conversations with colleagues from other regions, he eventually realized that dental practices in Germany had one primary challenge — staffing.

Introducing Assisdenta, a digital learning platform that helps dental practices train specialized employees

Dr. Jahnke and Dr. Duc Van Nguy started working on Assisdenta about 3 years ago. And it was officially released in the market about 6 months ago. Assisdenta’s primary purpose is to help non-specialists imbibe the language, concepts, and knowledge necessary to work in dental practices. Because of Assisdenta, Dr. Jahnke’s dental practice has successfully hired 6 non-specialists, and they’ve used their ongoing efforts at the practice to fine-tune the Assisdenta program. The response from the dental community has been enthusiastic.

Dental practices can subscribe to the Assisdenta platform for specific periods. The platform was designed with the sole purpose of training employees with no prior knowledge or understanding of dental practices.

Assisdenta currently has three building blocks — courses, flashcards, and lexicon.

  • Curses: The platform currently offers two courses — one for staff working in the treatment room and the other for staff working in the reception area. The modules within the course build upon each other, starting with the basics.

  • Flashcard: The flashcard module deepens the trainee’s understanding and knowledge from the courses. Its goal is to ensure the information from the courses has been imbibed correctly.

  • Lexicon: The dental lexicon was the most challenging module for Dr. Jahnke to curate. He says he essentially rewrote a dental lexicon with colloquial language and accompanying images for non-specialists.

The following are some examples of subjects explored in the Assisdenta courses:

  • How do you change your clothes?

  • How do you disinfect or wash your hands?

  • Why you shouldn’t wear nail polish.

  • How is a dental practice structured?

  • The different areas of dentistry

  • How is a dental filling done?

  • How do you set up for a filling?

  • How is the room prepared afterwards?

  • How is a root canal done?

  • How is an implant placed? 

The Assisdenta courses are structured such that the employee can learn the theoretical components at home. The employee can imbibe the theoretical framework at home while following the practical training during work. Furthermore, the modules have also been designed with sufficient flexibility to ensure the employee can be trained according to the individual dental practice’s standards for treatments. With a combination of courses, modules, lexicon, theoretical knowledge, and practical application, Assisdenta ensures that new employees can be trained without placing additional stress on the practice.

Monitoring the employee’s progress through the Assisdenta courses

Dr. Jahnke emphasized that Assisdenta would necessitate minimal supervision from dentists and other staff. After all, the whole purpose of the program is to minimize the dental practice’s burdens and stress. However, while the program lowers the burden, the dental practice must still engage with the employee’s practical training. For that, the dentist can also assign a staff member to handle the employee’s training.

The dentist can also monitor the trainee’s journey and progress via the Assisdenta website. They can log into the profile and gauge the employee’s progress. Besides that, the employee’s progress will become evident during the day-to-day processes at the dental clinic. Based on the employee’s interactions and work, it will become clear whether they’re truly interested in learning.

Hiring and training non-specialist staff is incredibly beneficial for the dental practice

Over the past six months that Assisdenta has been available, the dental community has been enthusiastic in its reception. Dr. Jahnke’s clients have said that training the non-specialist staff eventually relieves the rest of the specialized staff. The professionals can then devote more time to tasks requiring specialized attention, such as patient counseling, making the temporaries, and doing the prophylaxis. “That’s what we’ve seen in our practice,” Dr. Jahnke says, “there is simply less pressure in the cauldron. As a result, the business figures have also improved.”

However, hiring non-specialist staff also brings benefits that Dr. Jahnke hadn’t initially anticipated. He describes how hiring an office clerk helped them gain new organizational skills. “A few months ago, we hired an office clerk for the registration. She’s great from a service point of view… she’s empathetic. The only thing she lacked was the technical stuff, which she quickly learned through Assisdenta. And now we learn a lot from her because she is very well organized. So she also works through deficits we had before.”

Dr. Jahnke is excited about Assisdenta’s future, and he intends to use feedback from colleagues to continue fine-tuning it. You can learn more about Assisdenta from their official website, listen to Dr. Jahnke in our Zircon Medical podcast, or continue reading for a detailed article on the benefits of hiring and training non-specialized staff in dental practices.

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Benefits of Hiring and Training Non-Specialized Staff in Dental Practices

An independent article by the Zircon Medical Team

Running a dental practice involves various tasks that go beyond the dentists’ primary skillsets. Dental practices must hire staff members for various non-technical work, such as hospitality, billing, clinic organization, and more. However, hiring non-specialized staff members involves a long and often strenuous training process to get them updated with the unique lingo, concepts, and knowledge associated with dentistry. As our podcast with Dr. Jahnke revealed, hiring and training non-specialized staff in dental practices may be challenging, but it’s also beneficial.

Increased Efficiency

In most dental practices, highly specialized dental assistants and professionals handle tasks such as tidying up the treatment rooms, cleaning the dental instruments, and more. Hiring non-specialized staff liberates the qualified specialists to focus on more important tasks, such as prophylaxis, patient education, treatments, and more. Furthermore, this also enables dentists to see more patients or reduce the patient’s waiting period, which, in turn, can increase revenues.

Unforeseen Benefits

When dental practices hire non-specialized staff, they generally focus only on how it can liberate their qualified specialists. However, non-specialized staff members can bring unique benefits and skillsets besides convenience. Qualified specialists may be excellent at dentistry-related skills, but they might not excel at office management. However, non-specialized staff members might bring their unique hospitality and office management skills to address organizational issues, billing bottlenecks, patient acquisition/ retention, etc.

Improve Workplace Environment

To maintain a healthy workplace environment, each employee or team member must focus on their essential tasks without constant distractions. Hiring non-specialized staff members certainly decentralize the tasks, allowing specialists to focus on more important work. However, the staff members must also be trained to understand the unique concepts and lingos associated with dentistry. Without proper training, the employees may become disenchanted with the work or lose interest, which can affect team morale.

Non-specialized staff members must be trained in the basics of dentistry, either via an integrated training program at the clinic or using third-party education platforms, like Dr. Jahnke’s Assisdenta. This allows the non-specialized staff members to cope with their work, enforce their unique visions and skillsets, and maintain a harmonious workplace environment. Dedicating to an early training program can be incredibly beneficial in the long run.

Reduce Unemployment

Besides improving the dental practice’s efficiency, revenues, and overall team morale, hiring and training non-specialized staff members also has widespread societal benefits. Since you’re hiring unskilled workers and training them during or before the job, you can look at unconventional candidates, such as women returning to the workforce after a long time, individuals without strong job prospects, and more. As such, hiring and training non-skilled workers can be incredibly beneficial for everyone involved.



In Conversation with Dr. Nadia Uwera Linganwa
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