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The DSO Hygiene Excellence Diplomat Program: Diplomacy and Teamwork

March 15, 2021
We need to step out of our comfort zone and use diplomacy and teamwork to promote dental hygiene within dentistry and health-care.

We created the DSO Hygiene Excellence Diplomat Program to share our vision of a profession where we all practice at the highest level for ourselves and our patients. The DSO Hygiene Excellence Diplomat Program’s five pillars—Leadership, Diplomacy and Teamwork, Dental/Medical Synergy, Clinical Excellence, and Business Excellence—define and promote the future of dental hygiene. We are honored to share these pillars through this four-part series.

The five pillars of excellence

Diplomacy and teamwork
Dental/medical synergy
Clinical excellence
Business excellence

In our hierarchy of diplomacy and teamwork, the diagram starts at the bottom with our office’s individual hygiene department. Diplomacy
and teamwork within an individual hygiene department involves supporting fellow hygienists to promote leadership and excellence with the understanding that each hygienist has an opportunity and responsibility to create alignment between themselves and other hygienists within the practice. We also need to work with other hygienists to engage everyone in a vision for the department in alignment with the doctors’ vision for the practice and in accordance with the DSO’s business model. A clear vision and standardized practices ensure a straightforward process for aligning the hygiene department while utilizing diplomacy and teamwork to enhance patient outcomes. 

In our offices, with our doctors and team members, engaging in diplomacy and teamwork is fundamental. As diplomats, hygienists share what excellence in hygiene care looks like in the hygiene department with doctors and team members. Our ability to coalesce the day-to-day contributions of everyone in our offices can be the difference between success and failure. Focusing on diplomacy and teamwork makes the whole office more successful at elevating patient outcomes and ensuring that all team members feel respected and valued. 

It is essential for us to share the same vision from the CEO down to each individual office in our DSOs. Aligning behind a singular vision is paramount when there are multiple offices in different geographic locations. The collective DSO hygiene department needs to communicate with the numerous hygienists within its support structure. There is a wonderful and often underutilized opportunity here for all hygienists working within the same DSO to collaborate and share best practices. The ideal scaffolding for this type of communication is structured so that even the sole hygienist in an office has a voice within the DSO organization. Diplomacy and teamwork become increasingly critical as we seek to share our ideals of dental hygiene excellence beyond our individual office to include team leaders, regional coaches, directors of operations, and c-suites. Communicating effectively across the entire DSO organization sets the stage for continuity and alignment of dental hygiene excellence ideals and sets up an environment for the whole DSO to listen to one another and share ideas that support hygiene excellence. 

As a profession, diplomacy and teamwork are instrumental in dental hygiene and dentistry. Dental hygienists need to be aware of their presence within organizations as well as on social media and work to ensure we are building a team of professionals with diplomacy. When we lift one another up, not only do we benefit, but so does the profession. We need to establish synergy as hygiene professionals to promote the future of dental hygiene.

Diplomacy and teamwork are essential in our relationships with dentists. We need to open the door for communication and have critical conversations with transparency. As hygienists, we need to bridge the gap by understanding dentists’ concerns and goals and learning how we can support one another. Only in understanding the business of dentistry and how we can elevate both the profession of dentists and hygienists will we be positioned to move dentistry into the future. We need to be united. As professional organizations, we need to work together to elevate dentistry, especially if we want to make inroads into dental/medical synergy models. 

Communication with other health-care professionals is vital to our patients’ overall health. Cultivating these relationships has never been more relevant, as we know the science is there to support the oral-systemic connection. By using diplomacy and creating these multilevel teams between medicine and dentistry, we have the ability to affect dental and medical collaboration within the current health-care system.

Strengthening these dental to medical relationships will elevate patient care to produce the best health outcomes. We need to step out of that comfort zone and use diplomacy and teamwork to promote dental hygiene within the dental profession and the health-care field. 

In the Diplomacy and Teamwork pillar, we will present the skills for effective communication, team-building, overcoming obstacles, and how to be an inspirational presence in your profession. We will also address how we facilitate teams and who comprises the teams. The future of the dental hygiene profession is in our hands; how we present ourselves within this hierarchy will determine if we will be part of the conversation. We need to be diplomatic in our endeavors to move forward and realize we are all on the same team and we are all in this profession to improve health outcomes for our patients.

The DSO Hygiene Excellence national organization has a vision and mission to share the best dental hygiene practices within the DSO space. Join us in this mission to share the best of what dental hygiene can be for our patients and the profession. We know we are better together, and sharing best practices is part of that. Please take this opportunity to sign up for a free membership to the DSO Hygiene Excellence national organization at dsohygieneexcellence.com/membership. As a part of that membership, you will receive the latest information on clinical practice and the opportunity to participate in the networking and learning opportunities offered by DSO Hygiene Excellence. 

We are looking forward to sharing our next pillar on Dental/Medical Synergy as part three of this four-part series in RDH magazine.

Christine Diehl, BGS, RDH, has been practicing clinical dental hygiene for 28 years and currently works full-time in a DSO: DecisionOne Dental Partners. She graduated from Parkland College with her AASDH and received a BGS from Northern Illinois University. Over her career, she has attended a multitude of continuing education, including LVI for Advanced Dental Studies, and received an associate fellowship from the World Clinical Laser Institute. Diehl is a cofounder of DSO Hygiene Excellence.

Sarah Varney, BSDH, RDH, has worked as a hygienist with Kendall Pointe Dental, a DSO office, since 1988. Varney is currently a graduate student at the University of Notre Dame in the EMBA program and received her AASDH from Parkland College and a BSDH honors degree with an Irene Newman Award from Fones School of Dental Hygiene. Certifications include soft tissue laser and advanced periodontal coach. Varney is the founder of CE2 and cofounder and CEO of DSO Hygiene Excellence.