8.24.07 - Issue # 285 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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What Job Duties Define A Dental Office Manager?

Without clearly defined job descriptions and areas of accountability, a title given to a job is up to interpretation.

“Dear Belle,
 I was given the title of “office manager” in a practice that I have worked at for five years as a treatment coordinator. Dr. Gordon (not his real name) wants to take the office to a higher level of productivity with more cosmetic treatment plans. I present all treatment but also have to do the AR and the AP, payroll, insurance and all financial arrangements, answer the phone and do some insurance follow-up.  I have tried to get some help in confirming appointments and follow-up to unscheduled treatment so that I can spend more time with “management duties” but everyone is “too busy” to help.  When I get assertive, the staff goes behind me to the doctor and then he tells me I am too mean.  I find myself running ragged while the rest of the staff including the doctor has long coffee breaks in the staff lounge.  What should I do?  Selina M.

Dear Selina M.,
First, arrange a meeting with Dr. Gordon and define your job description, practice accountability and authority to make decisions that affect the team.  With Dr. Gordon, create written job descriptions for each staff member including yourself. If Dr. Gordon wants you to direct staff in their daily tasks then he needs to formally  give you the authority and inform the staff of his decision.

If you are seeing more than twenty patients a day, working 8 hours a day, you will need another full time person at the front desk. This person will need a written job description with separate, yet sometimes overlapping, job responsibilities to ensure that all systems are being monitored and worked.  The systems often left to chance are unscheduled recall, unscheduled treatment and overdue payments on accounts. Chart audits to reactivate patients should be done on a daily basis yet this job is usually left to someone with “spare time”.  Making just five calls a day makes this job manageable and pleasant.” 

An Office Manager or Business Administrator definition changes with each office.  Some dentists want an office manager who is in charge of recruiting, training and conducting performance reviews of staff.  Being involved with terminating an employee is another role often performed by an office manager.  Another dental practice may not want the office manager to be involved with staff issues at all, leaving those duties to the CEO/Dentist. In those offices, the office manager has front office duties only and is actually a Business Administrator or Business Manager. Her/his duties would include:

  • Set Financial Policies
  • Collection System-Monitor AR –Meet collection goals
  • Telephone follow-up to unscheduled treatment
  • Present treatment and arrange financing
  • Insurance processing
  • Office Correspondence
  • Balance Day Sheets and other Bookkeeping tasks
  • Run Daily and Monthly reports
  • Some banking duties
  • Using QuickBooks or other software
  • Payroll
  • Front Office Supplies
  • Seeing that scheduling meets or exceeds production goals

If the dentist CEO has given the office manager authority to oversee the staff in the performance of daily tasks then he or she needs to take a supportive role toward the office manager when a staff member goes “over” her to get to the doctor.  By explaining to the staff that they must go to the office manager for things like requests for time off or vacation and sick time or other job performance issues.  Many dentists would love to stay out of the sometimes “petty” staffing issues that crop up at any time. Once the authority has been given the dentist must stand firm and not be swayed to listen to “gossip” and be drawn into office dramas.

 An office manager’s duty sometimes includes monitoring operational costs of the practice to keep these costs within industry standards and control total overhead expenditures.  Then again, many dentists do not want any staff member to know the financial details of their business.

The Advanced Business Training at McKenzie Management includes instructions to help you draw up job descriptions for front office staff along with instructions for implementing and monitoring all of the dental office systems that make a dental practice rewarding and profitable.

Clarify today whether you want an Office Manager or a Business Administrator and get professional training today.

For more information on McKenzie's Advanced Training Programs for Office Managers and Front Office, email training@mckenziemgmt.com, call 1-877-777-6151 or visit our web-site at www.mckenziemgmt.com.

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