Wednesday, April 01, 2020

As I've said earlier, there are a lot of things you can be doing when you are not with a patient.

Here is a list of a few things you can do when there is not a patient in your operatory.

- Help out where needed the most in the office with emergency patients needing radiographs, developing radiographs, sterilizing rooms, performing sealants on patients that are there on the doctor’s schedule, and/or helping out any other staff member who may be running behind schedule.

- Clean or straighten anything that needs it, For example, the waiting room needs to constantly be kept tidy. This should be the job description of the front desk, but sometimes it only takes a second to put away toys, magazines and straighten pillows.

- Sharpen instruments. The sharper your instruments are, the more time and less fatigue you will have thus making you more productive and efficient.

- Sterilization room. Make sure all instruments are caught up; restock your room with clean cassettes, etc.

- Review charts for the next day

- Check the schedule for anything productive you could be doing at that moment. For instance there could be a patient in one of the doctor’s operatories who has been waiting for 20 minutes, yet they are due for an FMX or BWX. Maybe they haven't been in to see hygiene in a while and are past due on a prophy. You may not have time to do the entire procedure but patients often don't show because of conflicts in their schedules so it's advantageous to utilize every moment they are in the office, if possible. If the doctor has someone for an emergency and they cracked, broke, or chipped a tooth - offer to take a PA and intraoral photograph. Insurance will need this while doing a pretreatment estimation on a crown and its one less thing the doctor has to wait on.

- Help restock your operatory and others if you have time. You may not know everything the assistants have in the doctors operatory, but you can restock gloves, gauze, patient bibs, cups, paper towels, soap, etc.

- Check the stock room for supplies that need to be ordered and either order them, or write them down on an order list.

- Check the reception area restroom. Often patients come with children who make a mess, don't throw away paper towels, etc. Make sure the restroom is always tidy and the soap dispenser is always half full. If the rest room is out of soap, they might think we are also out of soap in ours making them question our own hygiene.

- Help out at the front desk if they are behind or overwhelmed at the moment. Sometimes they could have patients that need to be walked out, yet they have two people on hold on the telephone. Offer to help with the phone by taking the persons name and number and having the front desk call them back (if you are not able to answer their question).

- Help file charts

- Check the next days and weeks schedule to see if you can fill any holes with patients already coming in that day - both on the hygiene and restorative side.

- Work on recall, both by sending out post cards, and using the phone to call people who are on call lists, or who have not been seen in a while.

- Read dental journals and articles to increase your dental IQ. Any time that you absolutely have nothing to do, should be spent reading professional journals and dental magazines. No, that doesn't mean you can pick up the newest edition of US Weekly to see who Jessica Simpson is dating this week! It means this is the time to increase you dental IQ. You should still bring some efficiency to the office, even if it means using some spare time for "research". There are tons of dental and dental hygiene magazines out there that have short easy read articles that can make you a better hygienist and taking a few minutes when there is nothing else to do to read one of the articles is completely fine in my opinion. I am sure any boss would love you reading a dental magazine or journal instead of filing and painting your nails or playing with your cell phone. Sure, Suzie might do that at the front desk when she is bored, but besides the owner/boss, you are the highest paid employee in the office and the your employer is going to expect more out of you than someone earning $7.00 an hour to answer phones. You have a professional degree and license and should always show that when you are working and even when you are not working.

The hygiene department is the most needed department in the office, in my opinion. Over 80% of the doctor’s restorative schedule comes from doing hygiene exams. They need you and your expertise more than you can imagine. You have the most time with each hygiene patient and may spot things that a 3 minute doctor exam wouldn't find.


My motto is: A great employee does not have to be asked to do something! If you are one of those passive people who sit in the corner until someone asks you to do something, then change that habit now! There is nothing wrong with asking people if they need help with anything, but good employees should recognize these situations already. You may not figure this out in the first few weeks of employment at an office, but after a while you will get used to who needs what and when. You will also figure out who is the staff member most likely to file her nails and read magazines, too! Don't let that be you! The more you help out, the more help will come to you when you need it.

The #1 NBDHE

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