…a conversation with Mehin Malik-Aslanova, Practice Manager
We’re shining the spotlight on Practice Manager Mehin Malik-Aslanova, who credits the pandemic as a catalyst for lasting change. In the past year, she has learned new skills and redefined what it means to be accountable to her patients and her team, and now has a deeper understanding of what constitutes a great patient experience.
How long have you been Practice Manager with Dentistry on Greenlane? What was your career path that led you here?
I joined Dentistry on Greenlane at the end of February 2010. Initially, I was hired to work with Dr. Howard Rosen as an Intra-Oral Level II Dental Assistant, but I quickly took on additional responsibilities like compliance, ordering, and floating between many dentists. Within the year I became a head/ lead assistant. At that time, Dentistry on Greenlane was starting to expand, with additional operatories, associates and team members. I started to train other assistants and introduced a "floating assistant system" to the practice which allowed us to complete more treatments in a single day. It was exciting and rewarding to be part of the practice growth.
After I had my children, I was able to adjust my role in response to the new demands at home. I started to do admin work and help the existing practice manager with her daily tasks. Slowly I took on most of the management responsibilities and before long I was pretty much running the practice. In 2018 I became the Operational Manager, working alongside the practice manager until her departure in 2019, at which point I was offered the role of Practice Manager.
What do you enjoy most about coming to work?
I love seeing my team members happy and ready to have a great day! I enjoy being able to provide necessary support and to make the workflow go smoothly for everyone involved. In my leadership role, I work hard to create a great culture where everyone excels at and enjoys what they do. Respect and a safe workplace environment are of paramount importance to me. I’ve been able to shift us away from a more traditional hierarchy in favour of creating an equal workload and treatment for everyone, regardless of seniority. I established a safe space where team members can talk to one another and solve difficult situations by simply knowing that we are in this together and we are one!
How has COVID-19 impacted you, your role, and the practice?
The pandemic was a fantastic wake up call and a great learning experience for me. I have learned so much during that time that, in a way, I'm almost grateful. It’s given me the chance to bond with patients and my team in new ways and on a completely different level. I'm so much better now as a practice manager than I was pre-Covid times. I’ve learned how to manage my team in a time of great uncertainty, and together, we have been able to make the most out of the chaos and become stronger. During the first lockdown I connected my personal cell phone to the work phone and was able to speak to every single patient that needed our help at that time and connect them with our doctors. This experience taught me so much about our patients and also what it meant to be 100% committed and responsible. Our patients appreciated that and the experience for me was priceless. We improved our office's patient check in and out flow, compliance, accounts receivables, switched to non-assignment, restructured admin and hygiene departments, created constant communication with patients regarding updates and new office policies using the Recall Max system and improved many other things – lasting changes and improvements all thanks to the pandemic.
What are some of the ways you have been coping, personally and as a practice, during the pandemic?
My biggest challenge was balancing having children at home and full-time work. I also had some issues with my health and needed to have several surgeries. I was concerned about an extended absence, but thanks to my amazing team and wonderful principal dentists, it was manageable. I worked from home some of the days and with the support of my great team and their endless support and creative minds, my situation did not impact our workflow and operations. I can't thank them enough – I’m very lucky to work with such wonderful people.
What does a great patient experience mean to you?
First and foremost is personal attention. From the initial greeting by name upon arrival, to customized treatment plans and financial arrangements – patients should be treated to a personal experience. It means taking the time to understand the patient's needs, and providing different options based on preferences and their specific financial situation. As a practice manager/treatment coordinator I spend a lot of time talking to patients and making sure that they understand the treatment and that we are here to help and make things work for them. In my opinion patients must see you as a partner in their healthcare, like a family away from family. If you can achieve this then you’ve forged an unbreakable bond and patients will always have a great experience.
What’s next for you in your career?
What I'd like to do next is to share my knowledge and experience with others, whether it's a dentist, assistant, dental hygienist or admin person. I also enjoy learning from everyone I work with, it's such a pleasure to be able to share experiences and improve. As a next step I would like to become a regional manager or a consultant for dental practices. I would like to share my passion and energy with the teams that need it and inspire top talent.
What advice do you have for dental professionals starting their careers?
My advice to anyone working in this profession is to lead by example, recognize and celebrate people's talents and potential and build upon that. Also, earn the respect of the people around you by always being supportive rather than demanding. Be visible and present in the moment, not hiding in your own comfortable world. Constantly learn and develop new skills for yourself and other team members.
Be your perfect self, inspire, lead like a champ, believe in yourself!