While stress in the dental practice neither can be nor should be eliminated, managing it is critical. Dentists and their teams need to identify those areas that cause negative stress and take concrete actions to reduce them. It all starts with changing the things you can. Staff can be changed, educated, and properly directed; schedules can be changed; collections can be changed; treatment presentations can be changed; business procedures can be changed – all to yield improvements and reduce strain on the practice and team immediately. Take these steps:
1. List the stressors starting with those issues that are most intense. Develop a plan of action to address the sources of stress through a procedure or system.
2. Meet regularly as a team to refine systems and procedures that continue to cause stress.
3. Clearly define staff roles and responsibilities.
4. Train your team to ensure that they can succeed in your practice.
5. Establish work schedules that are compatible with demands and responsibilities on the job. If “Julie” is responsible for delinquent account calls, but never is allowed time or a quiet space to make those calls, she cannot fulfill her job expectations. Make adjustments so employees can carry out the duties they are assigned.
6. Improve communications. If you are stressed out because cancellations and no shows have been on record pace the last few months, rest assured your team is worried too. Talk about the situation as a team and together develop strategies to address it.
7. Take time out for fun – an afternoon at the movies, the zoo, or a long lunch. A little fun can go a long way in reducing stress.