Dos and don'ts for staff development: Cross-train team members

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If you've been practicing dentistry for a while, you've probably experienced those high-stress days when an important member of your team suddenly gets sick -- or quits. You may have also had to limit your productivity (and lose income) when someone goes on vacation. To avoid experiencing hardships when these absences inevitably occur, cross-train your team members.


Include cross-training as part of your regular training programs. Whenever you're training one staff member to perform important protocols, ask yourself who will handle those procedures if that individual is unavailable. The backup team member may not need full training, but be sure the person learns enough to at least "get by" should the need arise.


Don't approach cross-training as a "one and done" proposition. As your staff, systems and situations change, new gaps in training will probably emerge. When they do, remember that new backup plans may also be needed -- and cross-train staff members accordingly.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the founder and CEO of Levin Group, the leading dental practice consulting firm in North America. For the complete list of dates and locations where you can attend his latest seminar, visit

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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