Monthly Archives: September 2015

Externs and Interns: The 6 Standards

One thing I’ve learned first-hand throughout my years in the industry is that dentists love to teach. It’s a wonderful experience having a student chairside, showing them the ropes and contributing to their foundation for a successful career in dentistry. I have fond memories of my time as a student. My previous employers fed my passion for a career with endless possibilities! I’m grateful to each of them.

Over the years, we have heard many an extern story—the good the bad and the ugly—from both dental office employers and externs themselves. If your dental office participates in a local extern program, do you have a plan in place? The dental office is a business. Expectations daily are fluid teamwork and meeting production goals, but without a plan, often the bottom line feels the impact of this disruption to business. If the office does not have a written plan of action to accommodate the extern, the team will wobble like a bicycle wheel with several spokes bent: the team wobbles, stress rises, what needs to be done is undone. If this occurs, the extern feels deflated, like air hissing out of the bicycle tire making the experience a negative one with deflated confidence—a confidence they dug down deep for prior to walking through the dental office door.

Go back to day one. Remember how you felt when you set foot in a dental office to learn for the first time? Externs often share with us that they felt taken advantage of stating, “they are using me for free labor” and “I went in the dental office willing to learn and nobody was willing to teach me.” Not all experiences are like this, however, and many externs have a positive interaction with dental practices. But let’s face it, sometimes it’s ugly. Building bridges is one of the keys to success. If you take externs into your dental practice, make the experience a positive one for you, your team and the extern. Remember you are sowing seeds for the future. Externs with a positive experience will make referrals to your practice. They will remember you when you call them up to interview for your job opening. Externships and Internships are a way for students to learn real-life skills while still in high school and college.

Dental offices that welcome externs and interns from local high schools and colleges have a written agreement and guidelines from the school. That’s all good, but as a business owner, don’t stop there. Become familiar with the guidelines, consult with an employment law attorney and have an extern and/or intern plan in place for your office.

If your practice has an intern program, take a look at the link below to make sure your program allows for the maximum benefits to both your intern and your practice.

Beware of the Dinosaur!

Is there a dinosaur on your bookshelf? Maybe it’s stuck way in the back of an old file cabinet. Maybe it’s buried under a mountain of papers on your desk. You surely don’t want to hear it roaring into view when you run into an unexpected employment issue!

When was the last time you took a look at your employee handbook? With recent changes to federal, state and local employment regulations, now is a good time for a review. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all handbook. When we go into a client’s office to perform our free audit, we often find handbooks that have been pieced together with information from other dental offices, which include generic documents found online placed alongside old discolored documents written long ago when the handbook was first drafted. There are some real dinosaurs out there! Unfortunately, these dinosaurs—dusty, outdated and left on the shelf—are doing you and your employees a disservice. I know you are thinking about this big reptile-like creature and when you’ll find the time to tackle it. Maybe you even have it noted on your to do list for January 2016. But there’s no time like the present to begin the process.


Let me help you get started with a brief list of employee handbook areas to reevaluate:

  • Problem resolution procedure: Fair and equal treatment for all employees.
  • Conduct: Types of conduct that won’t be tolerated.
  • Paid leave policy: Clearly defined PTO or traditional vacation, personal, sick leave.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act: Define “workweek” and employee report payroll errors immediately.
  • Screening for substances: With use of marijuana in some states, revisit your drug policies.
  • Social Media use: Make sure your policy is not overly broad.
  • Cell phone usage: Usage and texting during work hours should be spelled out, most important if the employee is driving while working.
  • Privacy matters: Business devices issued to employees, employers reserve the right to inspect.

There are many more areas to address in your employee handbook. Take small steps so it won’t feel so overwhelming. If you begin and complete these areas, you’ll be off to a good start! Once your handbook has been revised, give each employee a copy, and conduct a staff meeting to inform them of the update and answer any questions they may have. After all, there’s nothing better than showing your staff you care about them while giving yourself the peace of mind and saving money at the same time.

free audit

Where is Your GRIT?

Have you ever questioned yourself?

Everyone has a dream. Maybe yours is to be lead dental assistant or become an office manager or go to dental hygiene school or even become a dentist or professor. You think long and hard about the decision and plan out the steps to make your dream come true, but then life happens, and you want to crawl back in bed, throw the covers over your head and wish for tomorrow. I’ve been there. Early on when I started my company, I was a single mom and worked part time in a dental office while trying to get my business off the ground. I was spread thin, financially, spiritually and emotionally. It was a trying time in my life, but one of the most rewarding and epic growth periods I’ll ever have.

Businesswoman comes to success with inner strength

Who knew I would find my GRIT in my 40’s! What’s Grit? Well, after having a pet bird for a while, I learned grit is required for their digestion. But I’m not talking about that or the grit/pumice we use on a rag wheel in the dental lab. I’m talking about your spirit—the one deep down within you. Your passion. Your WHY. Grit is that “extra something” we all have, we just need to find it. So how do you know if you have GRIT? Check out this link and read about the 11 signs that tell you if you have grit. If there are some you aren’t doing try to do them. It’s all about channeling our passion, perseverance and stamina in order to stick with our dreams until they become a reality. I learned through my failures and success that it’s never too late to begin something new—if you have GRIT!

Read more here:

The Cotton Roll Interview Test

Years ago, I was interviewing candidates for the surgical assistant job opening at our office and had lined up two interviews at the end of a busy day. Right before the interviews were to begin, one of my bosses rushed in through the door, zooming by the candidates who were nervously filling out applications. My boss still had his headlight on, so I knew it was urgent. We conversed briefly, and as he left, I walked around my desk to call back the first candidate when I noticed a cotton roll on the floor next to the chair, right where the interviewee would be sitting. As I did not want to appear messy to the candidates, I grabbed a Kleenex from my desk, bent down to retrieve the cotton roll and paused . . . I had an idea. I left the cotton roll on the floor to see which interview candidate picked it up. After all, attention to detail, taking action and thinking on your feet are character traits we look for in candidates. Let’s see who picks it up.



How simple is this? You might be thinking, “who steps over trash and simply ignores it?” Well, sad to say, many people do! But not me! I don’t know about you, but I have been known to pick up trash in the isle of a store while shopping. I’m happy to say both candidates brought the cotton roll on the floor to my attention, as they looked around for something to pick it up with. Ta-da! I was impressed. Their actions showed me that they think on their feet, take action and care about their environment with attention to detail. Later, I learned the staff was restocking when a package of cotton rolls broke open and our boss helped pick up the mess. I was happy to learn it was not a used cotton roll!

Every now and again I read an article that reminds me of something I have done in the past, like the cotton roll test. For some reason, with time, this test got pushed by the wayside, fallen through the cracks, so they say. As I have constantly worked on and tested new interview techniques over the years, I have forgotten about this simple, effective method. You can bet it’s back on my radar. Give it a try. You can use a piece of paper, a pen or even a 2×2 or cotton roll. And if you are a job seeker, take this hint: if you are being interviewed and see something on the floor, pick it up. If it’s trash and you don’t see a trash can, ask for one!

10 Mantras for SUCCESS

The number 10 took on a new meaning back in 2011. This was the year I chose, along with my husband, to begin a lifestyle change, which included daily exercise and healthy food choices. After about nine months, I reached my goal, and, as it turned out, I developed into an avid runner. The running came slowly, as we began with a walk 5 minutes, run 30 seconds regimen, increasing the run time as we moved on through the months. You can see from my before and after photo the reward I earned by making this change. I’m never going back to the old me!

Kim Knapp Transformation


This transformation was difficult, mentally and physically and not without blood, sweat, anger, JOY and many tears. I think it was Dolly Parton who said, “You have to get through the storm to see the rainbow.” No words could be truer! I ran my first marathon in Denver, CO on my 53rd birthday. Call me crazy to have this sort of thing on my bucket list, but in the end, I saw the rainbow, and it was the greatest gift I could give myself. Why is the number 10 so meaningful? When I ran, I would keep track of my miles on my fingers. Back then I didn’t have a fancy running watch with a GPS. I went old school, sticking each finger out—each finger representing a mantra mile. The mantra would roll through my mind like a slide show. I would focus on it, and even speak it out loud while running. When I reached the next mile, the next finger would join the first, and on it went. This method, counting on my fingers, seems childish, I know. But I did—and still do today—feel like a 6-year-old little girl, full of spirit, running on the playground without a care in the world.

You see, my 10 fingers distracted me from listening to the negative thoughts telling me that I should quit, or that I was too old, or that I’m not an athlete, I’m no runner, I’ll never reach and maintain my goal, I don’t have time for this, I’m not strong, I should be cleaning my house, or  … the list goes on and on. I overcame the negativity through the miles with the help of my 10 fingers.

Here’s my top 10 mantras. Won’t you speak them along with me:

Mile 1: I am loved, I am of value, I am worthy, I am strong.

Mile 2: I can do anything, I can do anything I put my mind to: SUCCESS.

Mile 3: Breath in with the good, breath out with the bad. Baby steps. One foot in front of the next.

Mile 4: I am BRAVE. I have COURAGE. Follow the yellow brick road (sing).

Mile 5: I run like the wind, I fly like a bird, I’m light as a feather.

Mile 6: What I really need I already have. The POWER is within me

Mile 7: I BELIEVE in ME.

Mile 8: I am a passionate fearless warrior runner.

Mile 9: No FEAR. Hear me ROAR

Mile 10: I can do it. Oh, yes I can. Victory within.

Inwardly, running is a thoughtful activity. I try to pay attention to my thoughts when I run, and I’m always amazed at what I hear. The thoughts I have while running surface during the day when I work. I carry these words through all the parts of my life. This 10 fingers of LOVE process also applies to your career. Know that you have the power; be still and go within; just walk. It’s never too late to make a change in your life. Tomorrow is a fresh new day. Seize it!