Monday, August 9, 2010

"Are you new here?"

Ahhh, Monday, my old friend. Why are you always so strange?

What a great weekend. It is only like 100 degrees here in middle-America with 70% humidity - but for some reason, the national networks are not doing wall-to-wall coverage on the heat wave in the Midwest. If only I could live in New York where 100 degree weather is a national news event. Here it just means another day in the summer - suck it up east coasters.

So anyway, eldest daughter had a soccer tournament this weekend. Four games in 100 degree heat on artifical turf (at one point the turf temperature was 160 - I kid you not). She played great, the team played great, the parents complained about the heat great (I think I drank more Gatorade than she did).

The culmination of my weekend was a text informing me that my only Monday hygienst wasn't coming in because of a family illness. That's a whole other discussion that I'm not comfortable having on this blog but if someone wants to post anonymously how you handle these situations I would love to read about it. As for me, my wife and I have 3 kids, both work, have no family within 3 hours of us and never had to cancel patients (shuffle within the day yes). I'm not real sympathetic on a payday when I have to reschedule $300 in prophies.

As for the remaining hygiene patients today, I have been able to see them myself (in between restorative cases). It is actually a lot of fun to spend that much time with the patients and to get to interact with them. For the first 18 months of my practice I did not have a hygienist at all, so I am still pretty comfortable grabbing the Pieso scaler and hand instruments.

However, the first patient today gave me a real wakeup call. This is a patient that has been into the office 5 or 6 times for hygiene (initial exam and perio maintenance 3x/year). He has never had restorative work but has had several exams from me. I went to the reception room and brought him back to the chair. As I am placing the bib on him he says, "Are you new here?"

%*@#$(! Am I new here??!!??!!

I just smiled. "No, I'm the doctor... The fact that you don't recognize me must mean that we are doing a good job of keeping your mouth good and healthy so you haven't had to spend much time with me over the years."

Lest I ever think I matter that much.

Have a great week!



Anonymous said...

I'll take 100 degree heat over 2 feet of snow any day. At least you don't have to shovel the heat.

You have a great week, too! I hope your office is fully staffed the rest of the week.

Anonymous said...

Good blog today.

As far as staff goes, that is a tough one. I have been practicing for 12 years and haven't missed a day of work yet. A couple of times I came to work sick as a dog and saw a couple of patients and the staff forced me to go home.
The word of the day is "ownership".
I have always felt that the people that own the business will do whatever it takes.
So I try to get my staff to take ownership of "our" place.
But your staff will never own it like you.
If you have a single mother or both parents work, someone has to stay home with a sick kid.

Lucky for you, you know how to cleaning teeth. I haven't picked up a scaler in 11 years.
For us, when a hygienist calls in it throws our world into a complete tizzy.

Anonymous said...

Great wake-up call! I thought I was the only one this had happened to, and put it down to being female in an all female office. Great response--I'll have to use it next time. Glad to hear it happened to a guy, too! Pretty funny! Dr Cindi Becker DDS MAGD Indiana

Cesar said...

text shmext! it says it right there in our employee handbook: you call me if you can't make it. that accomplishes a couple of things: makes you think twice about that uncomfortable call, so you better have the cojones to be able to call me (i.e. you better be sick) and it lets them hear my voice when i give them the icy cold "fine".

as with the patient who thought you were new: you should have run with it and said yes, i am. and gone on and on talking about what an amazing and capable "boss" you have, and what a great office this is.. ;)

Suzan said...

Bravo Anonymous. Ownership is the answer. Rules of engagement frequently give people a defined set of barriers they can work to get around. Case in point, a talented hygienist took one of my clients to the labor board about "over time". She lost but he felt betrayed. His legal counsel warned that it would be an unwise to end the engagement given the optics and associated risks. So he continued working with a person who clearly didn't have his much for team.

The concept of ownership is relatively simple. The execution a different story. When any team member becomes a "dunder head" the question I ask is; "did you hire them that way or make them that way?" Seems brutal but within lies the reality that there's something missing; leadership or a faulty selection process.

Suzan said...

One more thing; Many doctors have the Monday hygienist, the Tuesday hygienist etc. The primary reason? Experienced hygienists are frequently fed up with "office politics", fearful of getting their motor stuck in the weeds of responsibility and performance as a health progression specialist under the guise of "I enjoy multiple office experiences" or the like. Bull corn!

The compartmentalization of care comes with part timers and risks the market knowing the practice as no more than a group of "friendly" tooth mechanics. Precious impromptu opportunities to genuinely and authentically help people through change which is axiomatic with health progression are lost. Hence, practices have hygiene departments instead;are known as hygiene driven meaning cash cash cow or the source for predominantly remedial care.

Coinciding with lost opportunities comes insurance dependence (remedial care or cosmetics) in no small part because part timers of any description frequently do not know the client, can't articulate what the practice stands for, nor perform in accordance with the values of the practice which are inherent in renewal processes. Instead, teaching and preaching prevails since doctor popping in isn't going to cut the mustard either. Rejuvenative dentistry (the movement from CO to CR dentistry) is an outcome of a person being facilitated through the change process. Therefore a part timer is hard pressed to explain the concept of a renewal experience.

It's no surprise therefore that a patient doesn't know the doctor..for more than his face. To me it's not a joke that the face is not known and instead potentially serious symptomology and at the same time a signal for opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Most offices hire a fill-in hygienist when a hygienist alerts staff ahead of time that they won't be in on Monday. It pays to make the effort to get to know some of the hygienists in your area, invite them into the office ahead of time, keep them on your rolodex. Or you could pay the higher fee by going through a temp agency. Pretty simple stuff. Many hygienists would be happy to provide their skills for a local office, as long as the office was up to snuff. FYI, If your office has attitude, they're not gonna come back, (it won't matter what you're willing to pay either)
As for the texting...if you're getting passive aggressive and giving icy "hurumphs"on the phone when employees call in sick, no wonder they would rather text you. Quite frankly, I wouldn't deal with that kind of childish behavior too kindly and I would let you know my thoughts in person, not in a blog. People get sick you know. Your lack of planning doesn't constitute an emergency on my part. There would be a major problem if you were my employer, and I found out you were complaining about me on your BLOG, trying to make me sound bad because I called in sick, telling everyone that it was "the MONDAY hygienist". That would be a deal breaker for me, I would be giving you the minimum 2 weeks notice. Dentists won't get the high level of loyalty they demand if they treat people in the office like slaves.


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