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Although large, professionally managed group practices still only represent a small segment (7 to 8%) of the dental profession, their explosive growth in the last few years indicates that the trend will continue. That means there's also a growing opportunity for dental technicians at these practices' on-site or centralized laboratories.
Given the size of the companies, many of these practices offer comprehensive benefits packages, training programs and opportunities for advancement that are often difficult to find in small, independent laboratories. It's also a great opportunity for technicians and dentists to work collaboratively with patients. "Our lead technicians often have an opportunity to meet the patient to look at a try-in or help select a tooth shape or size, for example," says Mike Thomas, Vice President of Laboratory Operations, Affordable Dentures Dental Laboratories (ADDL). "We like our technicians to think of their role as a partner in service, working together with the dentist throughout the day to benefit both the practice and the patient."
John Murphy, Director of Recruitment, Aspen Dental, points out that collaboration extends even further for those technicians in a very large group practice. "Not only are our technicians collaborating within the office, but they also have access to over 500 dental technicians in our network, which allows for continuous education and sharing of ideas," says Murphy. "They often call and email each other to share technical advice, and each regional team is overseen by managers who are in the laboratory every day, readily available to support, coach and develop the technicians within their territories."
Do you think large group practices are creating a growing opportunity for dental technicians? Leave a comment below—our readers would love to hear your thoughts.
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