Setting a Standard
In many dental offices, it is common practice to hold a working interview when hiring a new hygienist. Dentists often assume that if this working interview goes well, then the new hygienist will be able to jump right in and do everything the same way your practice currently does it. However, the result is often that the hygienist and hygiene department are being set up to fail.
In most businesses, regardless of education and experience, employees will go through a training period. How long that training period may be depends on the policy set by that business and what they expect from their employees. So, why is it that dental offices think they do not have to take the time to train their employees?
Yes, hygienists are trained in college to clean teeth and perform root planing. If you are lucky, the hygienist you are considering hiring may even have experience on the software you are running. However, every office that I have worked with utilizes their software in different ways. Where certain notes go within your patients’ charts may be completely different from what your new hygienist was taught in school or at another office.
What information does your office policy require? I have seen notes in charts as simple as “prophy, fl2 and went over brushing”, where other offices choose to utilize the default template set up by the computer company. Some practices use custom templates set up by the hygienists…templates that the doctor may not even know the hygienist designed! Custom templates may not have all of the information needed for future hygienists and doctors to know exactly what is going on with a particular patient. Does the template provide details that will help the front office to get the insurance company to pay, thus allowing your patient to maximize their benefits? These are just a few of the little things that we take for granted, but are very important to the success of your practice and employees.
Does your practice use route slips? If so, how does your office use those routing slips? Is everyone on your team trained to use them in the same manner? Many employees are not aware of the range of information that routing slips can provide. This is really important, especially if you are a chartless office. Many routing slips not only provide information about that patient, but also about other family members on that account. This can prove very important at a morning meeting when there are last minute cancelations on the voicemail, as you can see family members who are due for their hygiene appointments. The routing slip is the communication process between the front office and back office. It is important that it’s filled out correctly and that the receiver reads everything on it.
The two examples above are only two forms of communication in the office, and we all know how important communication is. Employees should be trained on what is expected in your practice. And what about the actual appointment - what are the procedures expected of the hygienist from the minute the patient walks in the front door until the appointment is over? Does your practice do fluoride on adults? What types of fluoride does your practice use and how long do they need to be applied? Which patients use fluoride? What determines the need for fluoride in your practice? Where is the fluoride kept? It’s the little things that may make or break the stress level in your practice.
Who charts periodontal disease in your practice and what determines the need for root planing? What is the office protocol for a root planing appointment? Are all of the hygienists really providing the same quality of care to the patients, or are you just assuming they do? Patients want continuity of care within a practice. They will notice if there is no continuity, and they will run faster out the back door than they ever walked through your front door.
All employees need to know how to answer the phone correctly, greet patients as they enter, and what is expected when it comes to performing their job duties. Employees also need to know what to expect from you as the leader. If no time is spent training your employees on the systems in your practice, how can you expect your staff to be consistent? A highly trained team will help your office to be less stressful and not only lead to long-term employee retention, but also to long-term patient retention and future referrals. Training every employee on office protocol and policy is important.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151
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