In just a few short months Software of Excellence’s (SOE’s) Academy of Excellence has awarded more than 600 white belts to dental practice staff who have stepped up to the mark to help build their surgery into more efficient and profitable organisations.
However, it is important to remember, it’s not just the business that benefits from ongoing professional training, there is a raft of benefits for individuals as well. Continuing professional development (CPD) is not something new. In fact, the General Dental Council (GDC) stipulates all dental professionals ‘have a duty to keep their skills and knowledge up-to-date’ and their primary qualification ‘is only the first step in their education and development, which should last throughout their professional life.’
Head of the academy, Robert Powell, believes the Academy of Excellence’s formula of performance related training will revolutionise the profession for both staff and practices. Robert said: ‘It’s a well-known fact that training motivates staff, and this has a knock-on effect as businesses also benefit from well-trained and motivated employees.’
In today’s world, where changes in technology are probably taking place faster than ever before, it is imperative that businesses, at the very least, keep pace with their competition, but it is even better to be one step ahead.
The Academy of Excellence training scheme was developed out of the combined findings of SOE’s Thrive programme and Best Practice Check-Ups. Results showed most practices only use about 20% of Exact’s functionality, but also revealed that practices who use Exact to its optimum level had improved their business outcomes, and those who invested in proper staff training and development had achieved even better results.
Based on the martial arts grading system, the Academy of Excellence qualification focuses first on ensuring staff are getting the best from SOE’s business solution software, Exact V11. Dental nurses, practice managers and reception staff can gain white, yellow and then green belt certification based on their role within the practice and their competency displayed with the software. Following on from this, practices can progress through the levels, achieving first red and then black belts as their business and revenues improve. Software of Excellence hopes the Academy of Excellence will develop into a dental industry ‘gold standard’ in training.
Robert says he is ‘very pleased’ with the academy’s results so far. Since its launch a few months ago, more than 600 white belts have been awarded to practice staff, while an additional 50 have gone on to achieve yellow belt status. In terms of practices attaining red belt awards, 20 sites are currently working through the programme and Robert says the next big milestone will be awarding the academy’s first black belt.
For SOE, one of the most important things in developing the Academy of Excellence has been to ensure the programme is flexible and accessible to all, so there is a range of learning options in place. Modules can be studied via live online webinar sessions delivered by academy training consultants. These low cost, online sessions are delivered at convenient times, including lunchtimes and after hours, so as not to detract from the normal working day. Plans are already in place for practice staff to be able to login at any time of the day or night to study. In addition, new training school classes have been set up throughout the country so the programme is able to reach a far greater audience. With so many options in place, practices are able to choose a training structure that is just right for them.
Staff will be assessed at each belt level to ensure competency. Individuals must first gain their white belt before progressing onto the higher belts. Practices currently using Exact can complete a simple online assessment at white belt level to work out what, if any, training they need at this level before progressing on to the yellow belt. Red and black belts are awarded to the practice, with training focused on improving business performance and belts presented once the business achieves the target increase in revenue. For a red belt a practice must see a 5% increase and for a black belt, a 10% rise is required.
For Robert, the academy and its first graduates are the start of something special. He said: ‘We have been very pleased to see the speed with which the academy has been accepted by the profession. To have more than 600 people achieve white belt status in a few short months is a fantastic result and proves to us there is a need in the industry for this type of training. We all know the importance of updating our skills and SOE’s Academy of Excellence is providing an avenue for all practice staff to do just that, whilst also benefiting their workplace.’