Office Skills!

Office Skills!

I’m sharing this here due to popular request! I apologize to everyone who is not in my field; these posts are not going contain much that can hold your interest. I’ll get back to rambling about other topics later this week.

Back Office Skills

This is the “skills checklist” we give to new members of our back office team. They can bring it with them when they request raises if they want to.

Obviously, this is not going to be super useful if you are not in our particular field (orthodontics). Even if you are in this field, you will want to design a skills list that fits your unique practice, team, and office culture.

(And, yes, that banner photo is of me and my team. Our office culture is “Whoooohoooo!”)

Anyway, if this list can be in any way helpful to you, awesome! Here ya go:

For all team members:

1. Be on time every time for morning meetings and when returning from lunch.

2. Have good posture and professional, friendly body language at all times.

3. Have a professional appearance at all times.

4. Demonstrate engagement in team meetings. Look at and respond to your fellow team members when they talk in meetings.

5. Participate in at least 2 community events per year .

6. When someone says “thank you” respond with “my pleasure” and “you’re very welcome” and “happy to help”. Do not use “uh-huh” or “yep”, etc.

7. Demonstrate kindness and professionalism toward fellow team members at all times.

8. Understand that it is harder on the whole team when you are not here; do not miss work beyond the “personal day” allowance for any non-emergent reason.

9. Demonstrate flexibility for patients’ needs (working late, coming in early, working during lunch).

10. Demonstrate ability to “stay busy” and not stand around or socialize with team members during “slow” times.

Beginning Back Office Skills:

1. Be able to turn over chairs quickly.

2. Be able to run sterilization with no errors.

3. Familiarize yourself with all hand-outs and forms (oral hygiene, appliances, impacted teeth, etc).

4. Memorize primary and permanent tooth numbers and names.

5. Memorize bite classifications.

6. Be able to review the oral hygiene and appliance videos with patients/parents.

7. Obtain CPR/First Aid certification.

Intermediate Back Office Skills:

1. Be able to take excellent impressions and wax bites, pour models, and make an essix.

2. Be able to take and upload excellent pictures (must be done on a fellow staff member and shown to a doctor before taking photos on patients).

3. Know how to set up and take xrays (do not take xrays without certification)

4. Complete an intra-oral scan in less than 15 minutes (10 minutes preferred).

5. Show excellent chair-side manner and patient/parent engagement at all times. Do not congregate behind the counter or behind patient chairs.

6. Always have the patient’s records up if you have been waiting on the doctor for any amount of time.

7. Demonstrate proficiency in sterilization, chair turnover, and opening/closing the office.

8. Assist for basic wire changes and retainer checks.

Advanced Back Office Skills:

1. Demonstrate excellent skill in placing and removing all appliances (including giving instructions to patients/parents). This includes all Class II correctors and orthopedic correctors (such as RPHG).

2. Obtain x-ray certification.

3. Demonstrate ability to bond full arches quickly and competently in silver, clear, and gold brackets.

4. Demonstrate ability to debond appointments (including clear aligner and Phase 1 treatments).

5. Demonstrate ability to impress for pontics, shade match, and place/bond pontics.

6. Demonstrate competence and excellent patient care in taking “on-call” calls and “SOS” appointments.

7. Continue to show dedication to all skills and customer service actions listed above.

Front Office Skills

You will see that “front office skills” in my office are much less procedure-specific than “back office skills.” This is because the positions involve less hands-on work directly with patients.

When hiring front office team members, we’ve found that advertising for skills like “must be able to type 60 words per minute” or “must be familiar with Excel and Word” is pointless. Our new hires can all type faster than we ever could, and they can also text, take calls, and post things to social media at the same time. They know how to use every computer program ever created (and if they don’t know how to do something they will figure it out in 15 minutes by watching You Tube). They understand our office tech better than we do after being there for a week.

So we look for high-energy, positive people who are all about customer service. They usually pick up all the “technical skills” of the job like it’s nothing.

The skills listed below are specifically for team members who sit at our reception desk. (My treatment coordinator and my financial coordinator are not part of the reception desk team.)


  • Greet everyone who comes in, always. No one walks through the door without a friendly greeting!
  • Make conversation with people who come in. (“How was your holiday break? How was school today? Etc.”)
  • Always maintain good posture, confident eye contact, a pleasant expression, and a “How can I help?” demeanor.
  • Make everyone feel welcome and excited to be here!


  • Make sure that everyone gets checked in.
  • If they use the automated check-in system, double-check to make sure the computer system has them checked in.
  • Watch to make sure assistants are calling patients back on time.
  • Be aware of who is in the waiting room and how long they have been there. If it seems like they have been waiting awhile ask their name, if you don’t already know who they are, and then see how you can help.
  • Always make sure people are getting the correct paperwork, if applicable, for their appointment.

Coordination with the Back Office

  • When in doubt, over-communicate with your fellow team members and patients.
  • Always let back-office team members know (discretely) if a patient has a unique situation they need to be aware of.
  • If a patient is waiting more that 10 minutes, check with the lead assistant to make sure they know the patient is here and waiting. Then go let the patient know they will be seen as soon as we can (give them an estimate if possible) and we apologize for their wait.
  • If someone has checked into their appointment early, be sure they are aware of that: “It looks like your scheduled appointment isn’t for another 30 minutes. Thanks for being early! We will check you in now and an assistant will call you as soon as possible!” Then confirm that the back office is aware of the early patient.
  • Make sure the financial coordinator  is aware when someone checks in that he needs to speak to.

Check-Out and Scheduling

  • Check the treatment notes before scheduling to make sure you schedule for the correct appointment.
  • Check financial status before scheduling.
  • Communicate the date, time, and length of the next scheduled appointment to the patient verbally.
  • Ask if they need a printed reminder or school/work excuse/doctor’s note.
  • Say a friendly goodbye to everyone who leaves. (“Have great day! See you soon! Stay warm out there! Etc.)

Other Random Things

  • Do not let phone calls go to voicemail during business hours. Return all calls promptly.
  • Make confirmation calls for big appointments; be sure to specify if a parent/guardian needs to be present with their minor child.
  • Check patient bathrooms for cleanliness throughout the day
  • Keep patient sinks and mirror clean. Stock toothbrushes, floss, etc. near sinks.
  • Stock the coffee bar every morning. Order coffee bar supplies when low.
  • Schedule doctor lunches.
  • Feed the fish Tuesdays and Fridays (You read that right. Fancy saltwater aquarium FTW!)
  • Always hand out the sponsorship policy when receiving a request for sponsorship or donation. All requests go to the billing manager.
  • Send all potential social media or website photos to the marketing coordinator.
  • Make sure the movie is playing, the Xbox games are working, the radio is on at an appropriate volume, and the slide show is playing.
  • Check and organize the magazines in the waiting room. Old magazines in good condition are donated.

Have suggestions for me to add to these lists? I’d love to hear them! Leave them in the comments or shoot me an email! 

4 Replies to “Office Skills!”

  1. I was very pleased to find this blog, and I wanted to thanks for your time for this wonderful read!! I am definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, F.D.! So glad you’re enjoying the blog! 😀

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