Group of dental assistants working together due to short staff

The Best Way for Dental Practices to Avoid Understaffing

Carey-Ann Thurlow

December 15, 2023

Everyone needs dental work, so maintaining a well-staffed practice is crucial. For dentists and office managers, avoiding understaffing is essential for preventing disruptions in service and ensuring a positive patient experience at all times.

Risio offers some of Canada’s best dental assistant training—and makes it easy to keep your sterilization techs or administrative staff employees while they’re upskilling. Here’s how you can cover your bases as a practice while giving your team opportunities to grow and providing better outcomes for your patients.

Receptionist talking to patient in understaffed dental practice

The Risks of Understaffing in Dental Practices

When you don’t have enough dental assistants at your practice, your business can suffer. Here’s what can happen when an RDA needs time off and no one else is there to cover for them:

  • Disruptions to business continuity: Understaffing can lead to operational challenges that make mistakes like double-booking or being underprepared for appointments more likely.
  • Poor patient experience: ​​A shortage of staff often results in longer wait times and less attention being paid to patient needs.

Unexpected Events that Can Lead to Staffing Emergencies

  • Maternity leave
  • Extended sick leave
  • Sudden resignations
  • Emergencies
  • Unplanned absences
Dental assistant working with a young patient

Why Staffing Redundancy Is a Benefit & Not a Risk

Some practice owners or managers worry that having too many staff members trained to be RDAs is a bad thing. Usually, they’re worried about a sterilization tech getting qualified and then not having the job they trained for (or expecting more money when there isn’t room to put them in the right position yet because they have additional experience).

These can be valid concerns—but it’s critical to note that in the long run, either of those scenarios is still more cost-effective than letting your practice go understaffed. An understaffed practice loses patients and directly affects your bottom line, so it’s better to have qualified RDAs waiting in the wings before you need them than to need them urgently and not have them.

Training a sterilization technician or a receptionist with the skills they’ll need to take on additional roles also doesn’t have to remove them from your practice while they’re upskilling. In fact, Risio makes it easy to keep them present and productive while turning them into more versatile members of your team.

Risio Institute’s Role in Credential Upgrading

Risio’s Dental Assisting Diploma Program provides comprehensive online education for dental assistants that includes work-integrated learning. With us, your sterilization tech or administrative assistant can continue working in your practice while they earn the skills and knowledge they’ll need to step in as an RDA when you find yourself in urgent need of one.

Key Benefits for Practice Owners

  • When you send a staff member to us for upskilling, you’re ensuring that your next RDA will be someone who already has experience working in your practice—reducing the amount of time you’ll need to onboard and orient them.
  • Your new RDA will also have an existing rapport with your staff and regular patients—minimizing the potential for communication errors and keeping the patient experience seamless.
  • Sending a staff member through Risio also gives you access to our network of professionals and highly-trained alumni—making it easier for you to find reliable new hires in the future.
Smiling young woman in dental practice after becoming qualified to work as RDA through Risio

Invest in Your Staff to Invest in Your Future Success

Developing your staff with additional competencies is never a bad thing—it’s a proactive approach to mitigating the risks of understaffing. Risio’s range of programs provides a wealth of opportunities to enhance your team’s skills and credentials while maintaining operational efficiency.

By working with us, your practice can ensure higher standards of both patient care and business continuity. Contact us now to learn more, or browse the FAQ below.

Frequently Asked Questions about Upgrading Your Dental Staff with Risio

What Credentials Does Risio Offer?

Completing Risio’s Dental Assisting Diploma Program qualifies a student to work as a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) or Certified Dental Assistants (CDA) in the Canadian provinces and territories that have mandatory licensure. In the provinces without a DA regulator, Risio’s Dental Assisting Diploma Program demonstrates that the required training has been completed to prospective dentist employers who are the ones responsible for ensuring that their staff has taken the DA training and NDAEB exam. We also offer an Orthodontic module that gives existing dental assistants the advanced skills and knowledge they need to support orthodontic procedures.

What Are the Benefits of the Dental Aide Program for Dental Practices?

The Dental Aide program is designed to give new employees a strong start in the dental industry. It covers dental and clinical basics, infection prevention, and sterilization, making it perfect for aspiring sterilization techs and dental administrators who want to improve their clinical knowledge​​ and start down the road to becoming dental assistants.

How Do Risio’s Programs Support Flexible Learning for Working Professionals?

Our Dental Assisting Diploma Program requires students to complete 14 hours per week of hands-on professional experience in a practice setting as part of their work-integrated learning. This makes it easy to keep a part-time sterilization technician or receptionist on staff while they’re upgrading with us.

How Does Enrolling Staff in Risio Programs Improve Practice Efficiency?

Creating staffing redundancy and ensuring that your newly qualified RDAs have up-to-date knowledge makes your practice run more smoothly and gives you a fail-safe in case of a sudden staffing shortage. This also improves patient experience, allowing you to retain more patients and grow your practice more sustainably over time.

Can Technology Integration in Dental Practices be Enhanced Through Risio’s Training?

Yes, Risio Institute’s focus on modern dental practices includes training in digital dentistry and technology use. This aligns well with the growing need for technology integration in dental practices to streamline operations and improve patient services​​​​.

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