Here in Michigan, the day after Labor Day marks the beginning of the year for the majority of schools. The first week of school has traditionally been tough on the practice.
We see parents who didn’t realize it was the first week when they set up their children for restorative care, or they themselves not realizing that they can’t come after work because their son or daughter needs to be picked up from practice. Everyone’s routine shifts a bit that first week back to school. We have learned from that experience and equally shifted.
We don’t schedule any children during that first week of school. How? Simple. When setting the appointment, we conveniently and thoughtfully avoid giving that time to kiddos that are of school age. We also make a significant point to inform parents of school-aged kids when they are setting their own appointments that this time is going to fall on the first day of school, and ask if that will still work. We would rather have a slow (and markedly less stressful) scheduled week with possibly less production than a day full of cancellations and no-shows.
We are, of course, available to children for urgent needs. But as a rule, we try to keep the kiddos at school this week and out of the office. This protocol is not only for scheduling reasons but for patient management. Many children struggle getting back into the routine of school and often their behavior in the dental setting isn’t what we normally would see. We have been opting out, if you will, for a few years now and I feel it is one of the better scheduling procedures we have come up with.
Between our two practice locations, there are at least six different school districts close by. Our team marks in the schedule any known days where school is off so that we can inform parents. This makes it much easier to schedule appointments for school-aged children and parents love that we know when their kids have a scheduled break. It’s a win-win situation.
Do you see a change in your practice when school resumes?
Colleen B. DeLacy, DDS, FAGD