Joint Base San Antonio - Fort Sam Houston, Texas (March 27, 2017)- Dental Directorate teams across Army Medicine attended training Feb. 27 to March 4 to discuss enhancing current processes of leadership, patient safety, organizational culture and procurement at U.S. Army clinics.

Army Medicine's Dental Directorate is dedicated to maintaining a world-class dental program for beneficiaries. Health, including dental health, is a crucial part of readiness, and all U.S. Army Soldiers must meet minimum requirements in order to keep the Force strong. Having the Dental Directorate take time out for training is essential for continued improvement and enhancement of Army Dentistry.

Directorate teams from every level attended the training (Regional Dental Health Commands, Dental Health Activities and Dental Clinic Commands) to include Commanders, Senior Enlisted Leaders, Executive Officers, Regional Resource Managers and Patient Safety Officers. High-level topics were discussed and were geared toward clinic leadership teams.

The training event was held "to improve leadership engagement and provide tools and proven methods for the command teams to bring back to their clinic leadership to enhance quality/safety and change management and improve equipment life-cycle replacement planning and execution," said Col. William Bruce Jr., Deputy Director for Dental Directorate G-3/5/7.

"We hope to instill the message down to the most junior person on the importance of quality dental care with safe outcomes for our patients," said Col. George Hucal, Director for Dental Directorate G-3/5/7.

Training event outcomes involved larger Army Medicine themes such as High Reliability Organization (HRO) principles and patient safety. Procurement-related training and templates were provided to standardize 5-year equipment lifecycle replacement plans as well. Training was needed to ensure all mission essential equipment requirements are properly documented, regardless of the funding that may or may not be available in the future.

"Patient safety events have occurred annually for the past several years and focus on current issues," Bruce said.

He added, "With the recent increase in potential harm and minimal harm reported events, the Dental Directorate wanted to refocus efforts to ensure no severe harm events occur, all patient safety processes are validated and followed, and work to help command teams understand the root causes of the events and best practices to prevent them."

With its focus on patient safety, the "Go First Class" program, started in 2015, streamlines processes and increases preventive care and access to care. This has helped Army Dentistry reach and maintain the highest dental readiness in the history of the Army Medical Department. Currently, over 97 percent of active duty service members are ready to deploy from a dental readiness perspective.

The quality of care and safety of its patients are core values of the Dental Directorate. Not only is there a commitment to beneficiary care and safety, there's also the need to ensure readiness across the Army.

Reenergizing the patient safety program helps the dental programs move toward the journey of becoming an HRO. Training attendees received the tools needed to help them improve quality, safety and readiness for beneficiaries.

"We will also be implementing a patient safety initiative within the next few weeks to increase emphasis on patient safety and promote a stronger safety culture within our dental clinics," commented Bruce.

In addition, the Four Disciplines of Execution, by authors Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling, "were taught to drive discussion on improving the organization and help command teams frame the problems, goals and strategies to improve the execution of current policies to achieve these organizational goals," said Hucal.

"The training was beneficial for command teams to hear from MEDCOM Patient Safety, G4 and G8/9 staff regarding how the broader MEDCOM team can assist the dental enterprise," said Hucal. "The vast majority of feedback was positive; however, more NCO engagement in future training is a key takeaway," he added.