At American Dental Partners, many of our affiliate practices were once private, independently owned offices. Mergers and acquisitions allow our affiliates to expand their services, and bring new doctors and hygienists under our umbrella to leverage a national network of resources, support, and new technology.
Robin Sanderson is a Dental Hygienist who has experienced this kind of expansion with ForwardDental. In our latest ‘Meet the Team’ highlight – we learned more about her experience during this transition, and how she has the structure and support to deliver excellent patient care while still being able to tailor her approach based on each patient’s unique needs.
What made you interested in being a Dental Hygienist?
My grandfather was a dentist, and my grandmother was a Dental Hygienist, so its something that I’ve always been exposed to. I’m one of 10 grandchildren and the only one who ended up pursuing dentistry as a career. My grandparents both enjoyed their careers and had the flexibility to have weekends off and spend time with family when they wanted to, so I liked the idea of having that kind of work-life balance.
ForwardDental’s Group Model
When I started my career, I was working in a Private practice. I moved to Northpoint Dental, which was a group practice and worked for Dr. Werwie. In 1999, Northpoint Dental merged with ForwardDental, giving us access to an even larger network. I enjoyed working for Dr. Werwie and decided to stay on through the transition. As the merger was completed, he was able to maintain his same leadership style and practice beliefs, so the transition overall was able to remain smooth from start to finish.
With ForwardDental’s model – the Hygienists have their own leadership team to lean on as far as clinical direction and mentorship, and the doctors have their own network for leadership too. I like that this allows us to really excel at what we do best, and there’s a system of checks and balances to make sure that we’re aligning ourselves in a way that gives our patients the best care options possible.
Even though we are such a large group – we remain grounded and aligned towards our mission of doing what’s right for our patients.
Patient Care and Protocols
We have set protocols in place for how to handle different scenarios, but as we all know, there’s no cookie cutter solution that works for every single patient. What I like about the environment at Forward, is that I have the guidelines and resources I need to keep my patients safe, yet I’m able to tailor my approach around what works best for their lifestyle so we can come up with a plan together.
We use a modified Caries Risk assessment with our patients. For new patient appointments, and annually for our existing patients, we have a series of questions that is based off of recommendations from the ADA that help us identify a variety of lifestyle risk factors. This helps guide us to identify what kind of education or treatment might be needed to address each patient’s unique oral health needs.
Opportunities for Continuing Education
Hygienists need to maintain 12 Continuing Education credits every 2 years. While there are a lot of places that might offer ‘free’ courses, often times you still have to pay to send in your certification, or you have to travel to a location that’s not always convenient. I haven’t had to go on my own to find a CE course in years – because that’s something that Forward has provided to us in-house. The topics have always been interesting and relevant to what’s happening in the industry, and it’s nice to get to participate with other coworkers and people you know to get your certification credit. It’s also allowed me to save a lot of money by having everything done for free!
What’s kept you at ForwardDental for such a long tenure?
What’s kept me here is the comfort of knowing that I have control over the kind of care and attention my patients are receiving, yet I also have the support of my team to help verify I’m doing what’s right.
The benefits I have access to have also been a significant factor – I have the option for vacation and holidays which is unique in the Hygiene field. If there’s ever an unexpected emergency or a day where I can’t come in for my shift – it’s easy for me to find coverage within the office or reach out to the flex pool we have to make sure my patients are taken care of.
Quality Care with AAAHC Accreditation
ForwardDental decided to pursue AAAHC Accreditation status in 2000. This means that the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care has found we meet their rigorous, nationally recognized guidelines in areas such as infection control, environmental safety, governance, and patient rights. The group is required to undergo re-accreditation every three years to maintain their status, making these protocols an ongoing priority at all times.
Having these procedures in place helps us to make sure we all stick to the same level of standards. It’s a lot of work to maintain, but it pays off to make sure our patients and team members are safe. It also makes me feel proud to be part of a group that goes above and beyond to do what’s right.
What advice would you give to a new Hygienist looking to start their career at ForwardDental?
For a Hygienist that’s brand new – we have a really great team of mentors to get you up and running. You’ll have someone who is available to sit with you when you take your first patients to provide extra support and guidance while still allowing you to be the one to take the lead. As your confidence builds, they will continue to check in with you on a monthly basis to provide feedback, answer any questions, or share new ideas or information.
For someone looking to start their career with Forward, my advice for them would be to relax and take it all in. There’s a lot of information that you get when you join our team. The first priority for our hygienists is to do what they know, and focus on taking care of their patients. Everything else will come in time, and as long as you are doing your best on the patient side of things, everything else will follow naturally.
To learn more about ForwardDental, visit them online.
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