Welcome to the Dentist's Office

Welcome to the Dental Office blog. On this site we will share information on how we conquer the real-world challenges that we each face in our pursuit of running high-quality, successful, profitable and harmonious dental offices.

The Dental Blog invites you to share your knowledge, successes, failures and crazy stories with fellow dental professionals. Sharing our combined knowledge, we can each create our own unique dream practices.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

When Business and Personal Goals Conflict

Did you just go through a period of personal reflection that included setting new goals for your practice? It is very common for people at this time of year to try to determine what would make them happy and also accomplish their financial goals as well.

It is very common that people find themselves at odds when their personal goals and business goals are conflicting. Most people set goals to be better husbands/wives, to be more involved parents, to become healthier, to get in shape, to be more involved in the church and community – these worthwhile goals require additional time – LOTS of additional time. To accomplish the new business goals also take the allocation of additional time – this is where the conflict arises.

It most cases it is not possible for us to simply fix all our problems with allocating more hours – because we don’t have endless hours to allocate. We have to make carful, thought out decisions of where to spend our hours.

While I love building big and productive offices, I also believe in building healthy families and healthy people. I cannot imagine too many scenarios where a more profitable practice is a better goal than being a more involved parent. Be careful what you choose as your metrics for success – don’t let money be your only or most important measuring stick.

Dr. Corey Gold
President – Advanced Continuing Education Systems

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Staff Member Over Advising Dentist?

I received an email from a dentist who wanted to know what to do about an assistant who kept making treatment planning and treatment progress suggestions/comments that were not appropriate. I called the dentist to determine if the dentist was overreacting or if the staff member was indeed out of bounds.

In this case, the dentist was right. The staff member was young and inexperienced. She kept making treatment suggestions that were not reasonable and kept saying she was seeing things in the mouth during treatment that were not present. She was causing confusion and apprehension for the patients. I told him he needed to talk to his assistant about HOW to appropriately make suggestions/comments but remember that she was only making suggestions out of enthusiasm and wanting to do a good job.

On the opposite side of this conversation, when I was a young dentist, I had a very experienced lead assistant who had previously been the head of the DAU department at UCLA. She knew as much about treatment planning, materials, labs, etc. as the majority of dentists. Her input to me was extremely valuable to me in the moment and in building my skills for my career. I actively encouraged her to professionally discuss anything she noticed or suggested. She was 100% professional and my patients felt surrounded by a friendly and expert team.

It is a fine line for staff to walk. Staff want to make appropriate treatment suggestions, make sure you are seeing everything and to be involved but this can crossover into being over aggressive and cause confusion for the patients.

The real trick is that the suggestions/comments need to be made in a professional manner. The staff member cannot sound like they are finding fault in the dentist’s treatment plan or treatment itself – rather the staff is adding additional ideas or perspectives. The patient wants a supportive and collegial dentist staff relationship. They want to know that all the various options are being given to them. They want to see that the dentist is self-assured and surrounds themselves with bright and interested staff members.

Dr. Corey Gold
President – Advanced Continuing Education Systems

Monday, March 18, 2013

Response to my last post?

I find it amusing that my last post incited so many responses. Some people thought it was not appropriate to write a post discussing that staff members might flirt with patients or vice versa and how should a dentist/owner deal with that situation in the real world.

I think we should be mature and understand that our offices are filled with people. Some of those people are staff and others are patients. In the real world, adults will often flirt and be social with one another– this is just the reality of people being people. You can make rules to discourage in office flirting but it will only reduce it – not eliminate it. Social interaction is just part of who we all are – we cannot escape being humans.

I 100% agree that neither staff nor patients should act crudely, say hyper-sexual things or act in an inappropriately manner. If that occurs, it needs to be stopped immediately. Luckily most of the interpersonal exchanges between staff and patients are rather harmless and light-hearted. It is just regular, well-meaning people being social – nothing out of bounds or inappropriate.

I think everyone needs to lighten up a little and stop trying to create a rule for everything. Inappropriate conduct should not be allowed in the office place- period. Any staff member who feels they are being harassed should be able to stop that conduct immediately – and no staff member should act aggressively or offensively to a patient. BUT – regular, normal, social, people-being-people, welcomed, two-way social interactions are fine and cannot be over-regulated.

I’ll say it again – if the conduct would be appropriate at a church social event – then it is fine in a dental office environment.

Dr. Corey Gold
President – Advanced Continuing Education Systems

Friday, March 8, 2013

Flirting in the Office with Patients???

Yet another grey area in the dental office – lol.

Our offices are typically staffed by young, energetic people who are social and outgoing. Often they will meet patients who they have an interest in and a little harmless flirting will occur. It is not uncommon for staff members and patients to date. I even had one staff member meet her husband in my office. This natural social interaction is fine and not inappropriate when the flirting is not excessive or over-sexual in nature.

I also had one staff member who was constantly inappropriately flirting. She was a very attractive girl with a full figure and she would make sexual jokes and innuendos – making her intentions over obvious. Her conduct often left both patients and staff uneasy. Eventually we had to have a very challenging staff meeting about appropriate office social behavior.

It is not possible to set hard and fast rules about flirting and human interaction in the office. What one person sees as harmless flirtation another sees as hypersexual conduct. My advice to my staff – think you are flirting in church – would your social interaction be appropriate in church – if the answer is NO then it is inappropriate in the office.

Dr. Corey gold
President - Advanced Continuing Education Systems

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dentist Wants More Time Off – How to Deal With the Staff?

A dentist recently told me that he was going to take five weeks of vacation this year and did not know how to deal with his staff. In the past he had given his staff members two weeks of paid vacation and he did not know how to approach the situation with his six staff members.

His first thought was to give them all an extra week of paid vacation (for a total of three weeks of paid vacation) and then to take the other two weeks of his vacation time as non-paid time away from work. He felt if he closed for five weeks and increased their paid vacation by one additional week that they would be happy. He approached his staff about this idea and was nearly burned at the stake! He called me and asked for my advice.

After laughing for quite some time at the picture that he painted of the mutiny in his office, I asked him to look at the situation from his staff’s perspective. His staff relied upon their income from his practice to keep their households afloat. Two weeks of reduced pay was a hardship for them. He was asking them to take a pay cut so that he could enjoy longer vacations.

I suggested that he PAY his staff for all five weeks of his vacations. That they use that time to – clean the office, restock, clean up charts, call patients, make sure the hygiene schedule was on track, take continuing education courses, talk at elementary schools about oral hygiene (bring the big teeth) and do other activities that would make the practice nicer and run better.

They decided that each staff would get one extra week vacation (for three weeks away), that each staff member would use five days to do their continuing education units and that they would use the remaining five days to do additional work in the office pertaining to their job.

The dentist will get his five weeks of vacation, the office will be in better condition, everyone will be up to date on their continuing education needs and most importantly – there will be NO STAFF MUTINY!

Dr. Corey Gold
President - Advanced Continuing Education Systems

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Inappropriate Staff Dressing?

I received an email from a male dentist who was unsure of how to handle the situation of a young, attractive dental assistant who was dressing inappropriately.

The first thing I asked him was to be more specific as to what he meant by inappropriate dress. He said she was well endowed and would wear revealing clothe that showed too much top and shorts that did not cover enough bottom. He said that her attire would work in a night club or on the beach but was not what he wanted for his office. He was worried that by talking to her that he might offend her or get a harassment law suit. Additionally – the rest of his staff was not happy with her appearance either!

I told him that he could choose to create a dress code that demanded that the entire staff (or just clinical staff) wear scrubs while they work. If he did this he would have to either provide the scrubs or uniforms for the staff or give them a uniform cash allowance.

Another option was to create an office dress code that allowed more freedom of choice but set limits as to sleeve length, cleavage exposed, stomach exposed, pant or skirt length, etc… This method would require more staff buy in but would also work. The dentist might have to give the staff a clothing allowance because staff would be ruining their own clothe during work. I personally opted for having scrubs and providing them for my staff. I let the staff pick out the outfits and we all loved them. They often picked really funny colors or patterns.

Dr. Corey Gold
President - Advanced Continuing Education Systems

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dentist vs. Front Office in Collecting Money and Setting Fees

While the dentist often owns the business during the day they are just an employee with specific job descriptions. If you want your front office staff to be able to collect money from patients then you as the dentist can NOT enter into negotiations over fees or payment plans – NEVER!

If the patients know that the dentist will enter into a financial conversation with them, they will go to them when they are not getting the answers they want from the front office staff. If the dentist overrides the fees and arrangements made by the staff then your staff no longer has any real authority. The patients will simply go to you when they want to lower the price or change arrangements – you render your staff impotent.

Dentist should direct the patients to the front office staff in ALL matters related to money, fees and insurance. Simply tell the patient that you would just screw up their arrangements if you got involved and tell them the staff is much better at this then you are. Make the patient interface with the front office staff in ALL matters financial.

Show your staff respect and confidence – entrust them to do their jobs and you stick to doing great dentistry!

Dr. Corey Gold
Advanced Continuing Education Systems

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Make Changes Today

I like to think that January is more than just the first month of the year but rather a reset button.

A lot of times veteran offices seem to run on autopilot. Some months are stronger, some are slower but it is all pretty much running on its own. The staff does their thing, we do our thing and it just continues to run along in the same rut as yesterday. We can change our offices and personal patterns at any time but typically we do not – but at New Year’s many of us are open to making changes and to re-examining our patterns.

If you feel you are in a rut or that what you are doing is not making you fulfilled – then now is the time to make changes. Change your office, change your diet, change your weight, volunteer, become more spiritual – do things differently – be brave and make personal changes.

It is your life – reclaim it – change patterns that are not working for you and find ones that make you happy. Do it today!

Dr. Corey Gold
President - ACES

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

How will 2013 be different for you?

When you made your New Year resolutions this year, were any of them about your practice? Did you resolve to learn new techniques, to grow your practice size, to be a better leader, to enjoy your office more? I know that I have made those resolutions. I think you should take your New Year practice resolutions very seriously and ACT on them right away. Don’t find reasons not to grow as a practitioner, leader and business owner. Growing and learning is fun and worth the investment. A recent survey of small business owners said that once they engaged in personal growth activities that their businesses grew one average 7 -10%. The business growth came from both the news skills being implemented but also from the increased attention and energy of the owner. What would a 10% increase in your practice sales and a happier practice feel like? Invest in yourself. Take courses in dental techniques, practice management or personal skills. Just because you graduated dental school does not mean that your active learning is over. Why not get geeked up and become better each year - a better dentist, a better leader and better business person. You might find that becoming the better you is also a happier and more fulfilled you! Dr. Corey Gold www.aces4ce.com