Goal setting is like a New Year's Resolution. It is something we talk about at this time of year, but rarely do we follow through. In fact, 70% of people who set goals do not meet them. The problem is not that people are lazy or unmotivated. It is just that they are setting the wrong goals! We have listed examples of SMART goals for dental assistants that you can use to succeed in 2023. But before we get to those, let's define what “smart” really means.

What are Dental Assistant SMART Goals?

“Smart” is not just a vague adjective when it comes to goal setting. It is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

SMART: Specific - make goals specific by defining the goal, Measurable - if the goal is abstract find a way to quantify it to create a measurable goal, Achievable - a goal should motivate, but not overwhelm and should be achievable based on the individual, Relevant - a relevant goal is one that an individual has direct control over, Time Bound - goals need to have deadlines to be achieved.

3 Examples of SMART Goals for Dental Assistants

Examples of SMART goals for dental assistants do not have to be tied directly to practice growth. Health and wellness-based goals may support career longevity. Knowledge-based goals can build specialized skills, while leadership goals can support job satisfaction. If they are SMART, they are achievable.

Dental Assistant SMART Goal #1: Health and wellness

Anywhere from 60 to 96% of dental professionals report some type of musculoskeletal disorder (MSD). These MSDs can be career-enders for hygienists. It's estimated that 55% of ill health retirements in the dental industry stem from MSDs.

Hygienists spend years working in cramped positions, completing small, detailed tasks repeatedly. If these issues are not addressed when the pain starts, they will only worsen. You should be proactive and build goals on heading this off. For example, if you have arm or shoulder pain, you may set the following goal.

I will complete arm stretches and exercises for five minutes every day, with a goal of reducing my pain by 5% per month until it is gone. I will follow good ergonomic and posture principles that I learned in “The Ergonomics Woes of The Dental Professional” to support this goal.

Dental Assistant SMART Goal #2: Education

Dentistry is a field that is always advancing, and it is not just dentists who need to stay on top of these innovations. Dental hygienists can explore CE classes specific to their interests, so they can grow those skills and gain new certifications. These goals are easy to set and measure when the right resources are available.

I will take 20 hours of online classes related to restorative dentistry this year with a goal of gaining a restorative dentistry certification. I will also attend at least three seminars from industry experts within the next six months.

Dental Assistant SMART Goal #3: Leadership

Sixty-three percent of individuals who quit their jobs in 2021 did so due to a lack of opportunities for advancement. Dental assistants should think about where they would like to go with their roles and then take opportunities to build the skills they need to get there. For example, a hygienist who hopes to become a clinical office manager someday might seek an opportunity to mentor someone. They could set the following goal.

I will mentor one new hygienist this year to help them meet “exceeds expectations” in at least two of their performance review categories and have zero “needs improvement” marks. I will meet with my mentee weekly for at least 30 minutes to go over questions and concerns. I will teach them one new skill or technique every week.

How Spear Helps Dental Assistants Succeed

The above examples of SMART goals for dental assistants all depend on the resources you have available. Some practices may provide online CE courses or opportunities to attend seminars. There may also be cross-training opportunities for growing your skills. If your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound, you can succeed.


Commenter's Profile Image Rhonda M.
February 21st, 2023
This article provides SMART goals examples, it shows for a Dental Assistant but I believe it is supposed to be for a Hygienist.