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The Ever-Changing Role of the Chief Dental Officer

At community health centers, it’s often necessary for your team members to take on roles that might traditionally be outside the scope of their normal duties. For every member of your leadership team to succeed in their positions, they will need to cultivate qualities that are beyond their standard roles. When hiring a Chief Dental Officer (CDO), how can you be certain they will be up for the challenge?

The Chief Dental Officer’s Role on an Interdisciplinary Team

In any medical setting, it’s vital healthcare providers have a certain level of expertise beyond their specialty. After all, integrated care requires each practitioner understand the impact their treatments will have on the patient’s overall well-being, and how to coordinate care with other providers.

In community health settings, these needs become especially apparent, since sometimes limited resources demand efficient use of every doctor’s visit. As such, a qualified CDO will have a firm grasp on general medicine and be capable of recognizing symptoms of a vast array of disorders. In fact, oral health can be both a contributing factor and a symptom of many serious illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes. Though official diagnosis and treatment of such disorders may be outside the CDO’s scope of practice, their attention to detail can lead to earlier diagnosis and better patient outcomes. At facilities across the nation, this type of integrated medicine has proven to be the most effective model of care, making the ability to function on an interdisciplinary medical team one of the most important qualities to look for in a CDO.

The CDO as a Leader

When working on an integrated team in a community clinic setting, the CDO should be expected to contribute to the leadership of the entire organization. Since no specialty exists in a vacuum, decisions made in one department can dramatically affect clinic policy, and the heads of each department should be expected to collaborate in making such decisions. Rather than sticking to their own department, you should look to hire a Chief Dental Officer with a strong grasp of leadership skills and a clear vision for your facility’s future (and how they plan to make it a reality).

Expertise in the Dental Field

All of the above qualities must be built on a strong foundation of knowledge and skill within their own field. Your Chief Dental Officer must be more than a talented practitioner who contributes ideas to the leadership team. The CDO, like other executive-level leaders, is responsible for the policy of their entire department. Are their subordinates well trained? Are best practices being followed by all clinicians on their team? A dentist may have extensive experience in their field without ever developing the qualities needed to lead. Even worse, some may allow their skills to stagnate once they establish themselves in their field. In contrast, a qualified leader continually looks to improve their abilities and is driven to push their team to similar greatness.

At UHC Solutions, we specialize in matching talented leaders with health centers that need their skills. To learn about potential CDO candidates and other healthcare executives who are right for your facility, contact our top staffing specialists today.

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