It takes time to learn how to run a dental clinic

December 5th, 2014

Running a dental clinic isn't easy. In fact, it's probably not even very simple to teach someone how to run a clinic. The best way is through experience. So, how can a dentist or an oral hygienist pick up the requisite skills while still earning his or her degrees? It's actually quite simple. The trick to figuring out how to operate within the context of a dental clinic or a hospital is just to work for a small clinic run by the school itself. Those who are more advanced will take a greater share of the burden of running the program. Meanwhile, those who have just begun to learn how to use electronic health records can figure out the EHR coding by practicing on dental enterprise software.

Programs like dental enterprise software help to make running a dental clinic quite convenient. The challenges that come from trying to explain something that students haven't experienced before vanish in the face of actual work in which students gain real-life skills by learning directly with professional dentists.

An example of a successful clinic
One such clinic is being put up in Lumberton, Carolina, according to the Laurinburg Exchange, a local paper. It's being run by the East Carolina School of Dental Medicine and called a service learning center. Members of the community benefit from having a place where they can get their teeth cleaned and examined without spending as much money as they would on someone with a larger establishment in the oral care community.

"There are 70,000 people in Robeson County not currently seeing a dentist," said Bill Smith, Robeson County's health director, according to the Exchange. "That's over half the county's population."

Smith had been wanting to bring a dental clinic to Robeson County for some time, but only after about six years did he get the local government to agree with him that the local populace needed a place where they could have their teeth cared for.

"This is a great day for our county. We are 100 percent behind you," Jerry Stephens, vice chairman of the Robeson County Board of Commissioners, said during the remarks made when the building opened, according to the Exchange. "A lot of our citizens have been looking forward to this center being opened for a long time. We are proud to host this great project."

The business of dentistry
According to Dental Economics, the art of running a dental practice is more than learning how to clean teeth. It's really about running a business. Those who have studied dentistry and oral hygiene for years will still have much to learn. A dental practice that is overseen by people who already have experience with such matters will help to make the transition to owning and working for one's own practice much easier.

Dental enterprise software of one form or another is currently being used by probably every major and minor dental clinic in the U.S. EHRs are now the de facto form of health records, and when dentists send out their bills to patients and insurance companies, it is expected they will know how to operate the coding, among other EHR complexities. In order to best understand the functions of such software, it helps to become used to it gradually, beginning in dental school.

The business part is another concern. According to Dental Economics, all dental clinics need leadership in order to function properly. A leader must have a vision in place for what the dental practice will ultimately look like – this means knowing whether it will specialize in some area like surgery or geriatric care, or whether it will be more of a generalized clinic.

Knowing how to run a clinic takes time, but learning the process can begin as early as dental school – if that school offers a clinic to its students.

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