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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
Instructor/Consultant
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The Exit Interview
Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: an exit interview is a survey conducted with an individual who is separating from an organization or relationship. Most commonly, this occurs between an employee and an organization, a student and an educational institution, or a member and an association. An exit interview is a valuable tool to assess the reason a person is separating from an organization. Few other tools illustrate why the individual is separating, what he or she valued while at the organization, and what aspects of the organization need improvement in order to increase employee engagement, performance, and loyalty. An organization can use the information gained from an exit interview to assess what should be improved, changed, or remain intact. More so, an organization can use the results from exit interviews to reduce employee, student, or member turnover and increase productivity and engagement, thus reducing the high costs associated with turnover. Some examples of the value of conducting exit interviews include shortening the recruiting and hiring process, reducing absenteeism, improving innovation, sustaining performance, and reducing possible litigation if issues mentioned in the exit interview are addressed. It is important for each organization to customize its own exit interview in order to maintain the highest levels of survey validity and reliability.

So often I hear of a staff member, considered a good employee by the dentist, leaving abruptly for one reason or another. Unfortunately it is assumed that he/she is leaving for the reason that they gave to the dentist .Often this is not the case, but nothing is said or done to change the termination of the relationship. It is rare to hear of a dentist conducting an exit interview to gather feedback from the departing employee. Sadly, much time was invested in training the employee and the value of the relationship this employee has with the team and with the patients is not considered when the employee gives notice. Some dentists question the loyalty of the terminating employee and do not want to engage in a conversation. For example, consider the following scenario:

Joelle came to work in Dr. B’s dental office as a front office helper. She had been a dental assistant and wanted to learn the front desk position. Her duties were to schedule appointments for the doctor and the hygienists, greet the patients as they arrived, enter patient information including insurance information, and verify coverage.    She also scanned documents, retrieved the mail, pulled charts and confirmed patients by email, text or calling. The Office Manager came in later in the morning and frequently took long lunch breaks, often leaving Joelle to make decisions concerning patients’ payment agreements. The Office Manager usually found fault with Joelle’s financial arrangements and complained to the doctor that Joelle was driving up the accounts receivables. She continued to ride Joelle for not collecting the proper amounts or making the right arrangements. Joelle decided to quit in frustration. She later said that she did not want to quit, but her lack of training and experience made her feel as if she should quit. Joelle did not tell Dr. B about her problem because the Office Manager would be involved also.

In this case, if an exit interview had been arranged, Joelle might have voiced her frustration with lack of training and support for limited experience in collections and financial arrangements. With proper training she may well have succeeded beyond expectation and the need to hire another person to replace her may not have been necessary.

When employees resign, it is wise to ask them to participate in an exit interview with the dentist CEO. The purpose of the discussion is to allow the employee a chance to talk freely about the reason for leaving. The information is to be considered confidential and is to be used to help the practice improve its patient services and working conditions.  The exit interview will also include information on the office policies concerning medical coverage, disability coverage, unemployment insurance and arrangements for the transfer of funds from pension plans. 

Some suggested questions to ask in an exit interview are the following:

  • What are your main reasons for leaving?
  • What did you like most/least about this practice?
  • What, if improved, would make you stay?
  • Would you recommend this practice to others as a good place for dental care and/or to work?

To master the skills of Dental Office Management, sign up today for professional business training at McKenzie Management.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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