#1 – Conference meetings with your dentist

The general levels are designed to cover material that all staff need to know. They will include topics such as OSHA guidelines, HIPAA Privacy policy, computer training and other general information about the practice. The secretary and assistant technical levels focus on tasks specific to these specific jobs. To make sure that all staff are well-trained, your dentist will be meeting with you to confirm what you have learned and answer any questions that you may have. The goal of these level meetings with your dentist is for you to become a well-trained dental staff person who can provide quality care for patients and work successfully in the practice.

This section will help you to have a successful level training meeting with your dentist.

Scheduling this meeting:

  1. When you have completed at least 5-10 tasks in your secretary or assistant level, you’re ready to schedule a level meeting with your dentist.
  2. This meeting should last no longer than 30 minutes.
  3. Try to hold this meeting in the dentist’s open time – let the dentist know in the morning huddle that you’re ready for a level meeting and ask when you should schedule it. You may want to place a block in your computer that reminds the dentist to come get you if he has a patient not show up and he can meet. If the dentist doesn’t have open time for more than 3 days, it’s best to schedule the level meeting outside of patient hours.
  4. Give your dentist your papers for your level meeting 1-2 days in advance. This allows him to read your ideas and prepare his thoughts for your meeting.
  5. You are responsible for being organized in this meeting – have your papers in order. Start with the technical manual.  Have all your tasks been checked off?  Have the tasks that require signatures been signed?  Have them organized from task #1 to the end.  Your dentist will start at the beginning and work through your manuals with you.  This will save you a lot of time.
  6. Sometimes a planned level meeting will be canceled – it’s your job to reschedule and if you’re having a hard time finding the time – ask your dentist.

Getting signed off:

This “sign off” is a double responsibility.  You won’t be signed off until you know each task thoroughly.  Your senior staff person will put her initials and date on your level.  When it’s your turn to do the signing off, remember your responsibility.  Our clients only deserve the best.  If you sign off a new hire as proficient on a task and one of the doctors finds they are still having problems – you will need to justify your approval of this person to the doctor.

Your dentist will sign you off when he believes you have mastered the task. He may want to see examples of your work or simply ask you a few questions about how you do this task. Once you have been signed off on a task by your dentist, then you are responsible to get that done in the practice regularly. Part of your responsibility in the office is to help those who will be following in your footsteps. You have 2 responsibilities to help those “future friends.”

  1. Make notes in your level.  What parts aren’t clear?  What parts aren’t written the way things are done in the office. What jobs do you do that aren’t discussed in the level?
  2. Keep a notebook.  Add notes that will help make the manual more effective.  Notes on the good and bad parts of your job.  Include ideas and suggestions.   I will expect you to have many good ideas to discuss with your dentist.  These ideas and suggestions are what separate you from the “Nine to Fivers.”

To move effectively through the level system:

  1. Learn your dentist’s notation system in your employee file.
  2. Get a system to regularly complete tasks.
  3. Pull your employee file after your level meeting – do you know where this is stored?
  4. Your dentist records your progress at every level meeting. He documents the date of the meeting and the tasks that are NOT completed.
  5. Expect to complete 3-5 tasks weekly – regular progress is the best way to get raises
  6. Meet with your team leader every month to touch base in training.  At this meeting, the TL should use your      employee manual to see what tasks are completed and what still needs  completed.  She can help you to      organize schedules to get the training you need.


The Level System for Career Development

You will have worked at a variety of jobs before you came to this practice.  You became used to not knowing what you needed to do to get a raise, or even when you would get a raise.  There was most likely little interest in helping you build a career.  You learned a set of skills and repeated them with occasional improvements until you were assigned to a new job or you left.

The history books are full of stories of gifted persons whose talents were overlooked by a procession of people until someone believed in them. Albert Einstein was four years old before he could speak and seven before he could read. Isaac Newton did poorly in grade school. A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because he had “no good ideas.” Werner von Braun failed ninth-grade algebra. Haydn gave up on making a musician of Beethoven, who seemed a slow and plodding man with no apparent talent. There is a lesson in such stories: Different people develop at different rates, and the best motivators are always on the lookout for hidden capacities.
Alan McGinnis


We expect you to want to make a career for yourself.  Most of our staff are women who have had jobs, but never had the opportunity to build a career.  As a result of working at a series of jobs they never had a chance to develop their skills enough to create the career advancement that provides for significant financial reward for themselves and their families.  Now you can.  You will need to work hard but you will be rewarded for your efforts.

Since this is such a unique approach to a job, here are suggestions on how to most successfully use the levels for your career development.

  1. Be consistent.  Set aside 1-2 hours per week as your study time.  When we set up your work schedule, we didn’t give you 40 hours.  She gave you closer to 36.  This allows you to find 2 personal hours each week (example Wednesday night from 8:30-10:30) when the kids are in bed or studying and your husband is at a meeting, or doing something else.  If you don’t find this time and use it every week, you’ll find weeks (or months) go by without learning anything.
  2. Use your notebook.  Every significant thought you have about the practice should be written in here.  For many of you this will be a difficult habit to get into.  It will also be one of your major keys to success.  You will be using it to:
    1. Write down answers to your work related questions by senior staff.
    2. Observations of what we might be able to do to improve our services.
    3. Notes when a dentist asks you to do something.
    4. Also, use your notebook to keep track of your progress through the manual.
    5. Organize your time – Pick a date when you plan to finish your level.  The maximum acceptable                                time for the first 3 levels is:

Level 1 – 90 days

Level 2 – 180 days

Level 3 – 180 days

Print the outline (list of tasks) of your general and technique manuals to determine how many tasks you need to complete and plan your timeline to accomplish this work. Now get with your team leader or senior staff person.  She will help you to understand what you can reasonably expect to accomplish each week, since some tasks will be easier than others.

  1. Now you have your plan and the time set aside to accomplish it.
  2. Steps in accomplishing a training manual task:
    1. Read the task during your home study time until you understand it.
    2. Come into the office and plan to get it reviewed
    3. Secretary – Tell your Team Leader when you arrive and she will assign a senior staff member and time to answer your questions, observe you successfully doing the task, and check you off.  Let your Team Leader know that you were successful.
    4. Hygienist – Tell your Team Leader and she will arrange a time.  Due to your schedule, plan to have 5-10 tasks to review at a ½ hour meeting.
    5. Chairside – Announce in your huddle that you need a task checked off.  Your dentist will arrange a time.  Report to him when the task is checked off.
    6. Once you have 5-10 tasks ‘signed off’, then you’re ready to schedule a level meeting with your dentist.
    7. In your level meeting with the dentist, he will officially sign you off on each task – when you complete all the tasks in your technical and general level – then you earn a raise.

You will never stub your toe standing still.

The faster you go, the more chance there is of

Stubbing your toe, but the more chance you

have of getting somewhere.

Charles F. Kettering

You can learn new things at any time in your life

if you’re willing to be a beginner.  If you actually

learn to like being a beginner, the whole world

opens up to you.

Barbara Sher

Credit to Dilbert Calendar:

Projected completion dates

Secretary                                 Chairside                                Hygienist


You (date)       Max                 You (date)       Max                 You (date)             Max

Level 1            _______          3 months         ________        3 months         ________        5 months

Level 2            _______          6 months         ________        6 months         ________        6 months

Level 3            _______          6 months         ________        6 months         ________        6 months

Level 4            _______          6 months         ________        6 months         ________        ­­­_______

Level 5            _______          6 months         ________        6 months         ________            _______

Level 6            _______          6 months         ________        6 months         ________            _______



My day to study______________         _____________________

Hours                                  Day




Sometimes level meetings get moved or cancelled due to circumstances that cannot be helped.

“You are the same today as you will be in five years except for two things:  the books you read and the people you meet” – Charlie “TREMENDOUS” Jones, Founder of

A study was run in December 2009 by Marshal and Kelly Goldsmith, and published in “Businessweek”. It found that people who were happy at work felt their job was meaningful.  These same people felt the same way about their homelife.  Surprisingly, the reverse was also true.  Those without meaning in their work were not happy – either at work or at home.  This means that those who work for a paycheck so that they can have a fun personal life are fooling themselves.

This is a place where being good at what you do helps many people – both your fellow staffers as well as our clients.  As you build your career, you’ll gain personal confidence in yourself and the respect of your family and friends.

Finally, after many years with us, our hope is that you will have had a challenging and successful career, have earned and saved enough money to retire when you are ready, and have the good health to enjoy your retirement.


Be Successful

  1. Break big tasks into small, achievable goals
  2. Don’t let others decide what you cannot do
  3. Expect to succeed and you will
  4. When things get tough, look at it as a test of who you are – a personal challenge – don’t quit, succeed
  5. When you don’t reach a goal, you didn’t fail – you learned an approach that didn’t work.  There is no failure – only lessons you haven’t learned.  If the goal is important, the lesson will be repeated until you solve it.  If the goal wasn’t important and it wasn’t achieved, who cares?

It’s no disgrace to get knocked down – as long as you get up.

Darrell Royal

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.
Maria Robinson

The Final Say
A dentist and her three staff members were walking together when they spied a rusty lamp in the grass.
Hey the secretary said as the dentist picked up the lamp. “That looks like the ancient lamps in the movies. Why don’t you rub it and see what happens?”
The dentist rubbed the lamp, and sure enough, out popped a genie. “Ill grant each of you one wish,” the genie said.
“Ill go first! Shouted the secretary “I want it to be sunny on the deck of my yacht in the Caribbean.” Poof! The secretary disappeared.
“Oh, me next!” shouted the chairside assistant. “I want to be skiing at my lodge in Aspen.” Poof she disappeared.
“My turn, my turn!” Shouted the hygienist. “I want to be hiking on my private estate in Scotland.” Poof! She disappeared.
Finally it was the dentist’s turn. “I want those three back in the office in an hour.”
The moral: Always let the dentist go first.