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At Spear Education, we have always been known for our exceptional dental CE. No matter if it is online, in Study Clubs or on-site, we have always sought to provide dental education that improves the competence and confidence of clinicians. 

What we have seen over the years is that, unfortunately, the impact on the practice of learning new clinical skills is dependent on the willingness of the team to help implement the new tools. Spear clinicians have talked about the infamous “Monday after a course” for years: They return to the office Monday excited to start applying their new skills, only to encounter resistance from the staff who view it as more work or low value. 

Spear’s First Implementation Solution

That is what led to the development of our facilitated team meetings. These meetings help the practitioner implement impactful, topic-based meetings in their practice that reinforce the ideas taught at Spear. Topics for these meetings were chosen by working with our clients to find out the areas in which they struggled to get alignment from their teams. Now, with more than 45 team meetings on both clinical and practice management topics, there is something available for every practice.   

The Science Behind Team Meetings

It was not just the experience of our faculty and feedback from our participants that led to the creation of this tool; we also took a hard look at some of the social science around behavior change. For instance, in 2002, Anja Kolluss and Julian Agyeman looked at all the current research on producing pro-environmental behaviors. This study provided some interesting parallels to the problems an office faces as it was trying to get individuals to behave in a manner that is good for the whole of society, but may not affect their individual lives significantly. It also looked at intended rewards that have an inherent free-rider problem. Both of these are analogous to problems faced in the practice: Hourly assistants and hygienists don’t necessarily see any benefit to growing the practice as they won’t necessarily benefit directly from the growth of the practice. In addition, one slacking team member may not necessarily sink the change efforts or have consequences for non-adoption. 

In this study, they found a few very interesting points when it came to changing people’s behaviors:

  • Direct versus indirect experience: Direct experiences have a stronger influence on people’s behavior than indirect experiences. (The facilitation guides provide a consistently-tested framework for getting everyone in the practice involved, thus creating an environment more likely to produce behavioral change)
  • Normative influence: Social norms significantly influence and shape people’s attitudes, which in turn affect behavior. (The group aspect of the team meeting helps create the social norm that learning and change are part of the culture of the practice.)
  • Locus of control: This represents an individual's perception of whether he or she has the ability to bring about change through his or her own behavior. (Each team meeting provides concrete actions that staff can take afterward to make changes in the practice. This helps bring the locus of control back on the individual staff members in the practice.)
  • Verbal commitment: The communicated willingness to take action also gave some indication about the person’s willingness to engage in positive behaviors. (The discussion guides provide the dentist with the tools to engage the staff and encourage participation.)

The Next Step in the Evolution of the Spear Team Meetings

In January of 2016, Spear worked to take this to the next level. What was missing in the team meetings was the intentional focus of a series of team meetings paced in a specific sequential order to achieve a result. These team meeting curricula follow the best practices of numerous Spear clinicians who have seen the multiplier effect of utilizing these team meetings continuously in their practice. These curricula are designed to be done at least twice a month, with the meetings grouped to help the practice achieve a greater goal than might be possible through any one meeting.

Six Weeks to Change Your Practice

While the initial benefit of the curriculum is obvious (you will cover more topics in six team meetings than you will in one), the other is less so. In a 2010 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it was found that the median time to create a behavior change was 47 days. If a clinician runs these team meetings once a week and implements the follow up activities, there will be 42 days of continuous growth and learning by the entire staff. This will work to affect change in a way other tools cannot. 

In closing, we are excited to be able to offer this to all our clinicians. If you are a member of the Spear Online community and want to get a tour of this new and exciting product, click here to schedule a tour with your member success advisers. If you are not a member and would like to see this in action, click here to sign up for a risk-free trial.