Wednesday, April 01, 2020

What do you do when you need a temporary hygienist? The majority of the time, you are responsible for finding your own replacement. This can be a stressful task, but don't worry! Depending on how large of a town or city you work, this could be as easy as placing one phone call, or it could take many days to locate someone willing to fill in. Hopefully, your front office has a temp list of hygienist names and phone numbers that you can call and see if they are available to work. If they don't, call a few offices in town and tell them "Hi, I'm ___ , a hygienist at Dr. Jones office, and I need someone to fill in for me on ____, is your hygienist full time, or do you have a temp fill in list you could fax to us? Do you recommend someone you've used in the past?" This can help get you started and often times you will end up with a list that has a lot of names and if they recommend someone, at least you have their first reference. It's better to do this with an office of which you are familiar or you have a friend working there, but it's not necessary. Some larger cities have temporary placement agencies and this is almost a sure way to find someone to fill in, but generally the dentist is not going to want to pay the extra fees associated with it if they can get someone to fill in by word of mouth.

When you do find someone to fill in, it's my opinion that you spoil them as much as possible. Temp RDH's are used to going into an office where they are clueless where things are located, how the office runs, history of the patients, what the doctor likes, the names of the people, etc. In fact, the "unknown" is probably the number one reason that people say no to filling in for someone. There are many ways that I "spoil" my temp replacements so that they are more willing to return to fill in again when I need it. Some things I do and highly recommend are:

- Always call the day ahead of time and be sure they remember to work for you, give them directions and remind them of the time they should be there. Tell them the time of the office morning huddle (most offices have this), the time of the first patient and the lunch hour. Also tell them about lunch. Do you get an hour for lunch but normally only 30-45 minutes because of running off schedule? Are there places close by to eat and where? Do most people bring their own lunch? You wouldn't want a temp filling in running your schedule on an empty stomach and there is no time to go to lunch and they didn't bring their own.

- Try to have the room set up for their first patient. This way they can spend time seeing where everything is located, reviewing patient charts, etc.

- Have a printed out schedule in your room with notes beside each patient name telling them what needs to be done. For example:

Mike Jones - 01110, 00274, 00180. If you are not familiar with the codes yet, it will come to you within about a week of working.

- At the bottom of the schedule where you have more room to write, make a short note saying thanks for working and you really appreciate it. Write any detailed notes about a patient that they are seeing such as "Mike Jones at 9am has extreme gag reflex, Martha Jackson at 2pm just had their first granddaughter born last week, Jimmy Smith at 4:15 is known to be late at times" etc. Also it's a great idea to write down the office staffs names, too. Usually when they meet your coworkers it's in a hurry and they are already stressed out about being somewhere new, so remind them. "Martha works the front desk, Debbie works Insurance and patient checkout, Rhonda and Candice are Dr. Hampton's assistants and the other hygienist is Elaine. If you need anything, Elaine will help you. Thanks so much for working for me!"


- If you want to be very nice and maybe in situations where you called the temp short notice, or they had to drive more than 30 minutes to get to your office, leave them a $5 bill and tell them lunch is on you. On one occasion, when someone filled in for me for a full week on short notice, I gave her two movie passes and a thank you card.


Remember, it's the thought that counts. If you treat your temp's like they are special and make them feel welcome, then 99% of the time when you need a replacement in the future, they are sure to say yes. Also, in the hygiene world, word of mouth travels fast. If someone has a good experience with you or your office, they are going to talk about it to their friends, who are probably hygienists as well. Keep in mind, as well, that oftentimes the hygienist you have fill in for you, to your boss, is also a reflection on you since you coordinated it. Help them be as prepared as possible!

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