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Laurie Hardison
Senior Consultant
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Do Job Descriptions Really Matter?
By Laurie Hardison, Senior Consultant

Mr. Smith was scheduled for a crown on tooth No. 3, a procedure that was slated for two hours. Once he arrived, your assistant realized Mr. Smith wasn’t ready for a crown after all – he needed a root canal first.

Sound frustrating? It is, especially when you have no idea how it happened. You can see that your Hygiene Coordinator scheduled the appointment two months ago, but she doesn’t remember why she put it in the system as a crown. In fact, no one on the team seems to know how this mistake was made, which means you don’t know how to address the problem so it doesn’t happen again.

Unfortunately, these types of situations come up when you don’t have clear, detailed job descriptions. Without job descriptions, team members don’t know who’s responsible for which tasks. When something goes wrong you’ll hear excuses like “I didn’t do it and I have no idea who did” or “I didn’t know I was supposed to do that.” There’s no accountability, leading to plenty of frustration for both you and your team members.

If your practice had detailed job descriptions, everyone would know that, in this scenario, the Scheduling Coordinator is ultimately responsible for your schedule – even if another team member scheduled the appointment. Instead of involving the entire team, you could go directly to the Scheduling Coordinator to find out what happened. Maybe she forgot to review the clinical notes before the morning huddle, which likely would have alerted her to the problem, or maybe she didn’t have time to go over patient records with the assistant the day before to double-check for errors.

No matter what happened, if you know who to go to, you can determine the source of the problem much faster. You don’t have to waste time trying to figure out who to talk to when something isn’t as it should be, or call a meeting to address the entire team. You can direct your concerns to the team member who is responsible for the system and make sure the situation is corrected.

Developing detailed job descriptions will help set your team members up for success. I realize this is something many dentists don’t like to think about, but your practice will run much smoother once your team members know exactly what’s expected of them.

To help you get started, I’ve put together a list of tasks for a few common jobs. Keep in mind you might need to adjust these to fit your practice, but they can at least give you some guidance as you start talking about and developing job descriptions for your team.

The Hygiene Coordinator
This team member is responsible for growing the practice through the Hygiene Department and should spend time “Dialing for Dollars.” Train him or her to schedule the hygienist to meet daily production goals, which should be based on either three times the hygiene salary or 1/3 of total practice production.

The Scheduling Coordinator
Your Scheduling Coordinator is responsible for scheduling you to meet daily production goals – not just to keep you busy. This person is ultimately accountable for the schedule and should be tasked with following up on unscheduled treatment plans.

The Financial Coordinator
The Financial Coordinator is responsible for outstanding insurance claims, outstanding account balances and weekly statements. He or she generates claims daily, verifies patient insurance eligibility and confirms all insurance information in the computer is correct.

The Treatment Coordinator
This person is responsible for presenting treatment for all producers and following up with patients two days after the initial presentation.

Hygienists and Assistants
These team members perform specific duties associated with their clinical training.

Hopefully these short descriptions can help put you on track to develop effective job descriptions. Remember, every job description should include a definition of the job, the necessary skill set, and specific responsibilities and duties. They also should include performance measurements. These elements make it clear who’s responsible for which systems and who’s accountable when something goes wrong.

When you’re ready to develop job descriptions, I suggest sitting down with team members to get their input. This will not only help you craft better job descriptions, it will give team members more ownership of their roles. It also shows you value their opinion and the contributions they make to the practice.

While most dentists don’t like the idea of developing job descriptions, and some even think they’re a waste of time, trust me, they’re not. You’ll find team members are much more productive when they have the guidance job descriptions provide, which ultimately leads to less confusion and conflict in your practice, as well as a healthier bottom line.

Still not comfortable developing job descriptions on your own? Contact McKenzie Management and we’ll help get you started. 

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you implement proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com

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