9.21.12 Issue #550 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Carol Tekavec, RDH
Hygiene Consultant
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What Does a Great Team Do?
Carol Tekavec RDH

Much is said about the positive effect of an organized, “humming-away” dental team with regards to office success. But what does such a team really do? How do they work together to make the office a great place to work, as well as a great place for patients to receive the treatment they need?

Each Team Member Looks for Ways to Help
The self-defeating mantra of “it’s not my job” is terribly detrimental to achieving a positive team mentality. Everything in a dental office (aside from treatment that must be performed by licensed individuals) is part of everyone’s job. This means that no task should be considered off-limits for anyone to do. Practically speaking, this translates into looking for ways to help one another.

For example: The hygienist has an unexpected hole in her schedule. Even though confirmed, the patient has failed his appointment. What should she do? While I personally welcome any chance to sharpen instruments (and typically make time to do so every week), first the hygienist should see if anyone needs help. If there is another hygienist in the practice, she can see if she could get the next patient on the schedule started, clean the other hygienist’s instruments, or set up the next appointment her current patient needs. She can check with the assistants to see if she can expose x-rays, clean up a room, anesthetize a patient for the dentist, or prepare an operatory for the next patient in the schedule. If the assistants are caught up she can go to the front desk and volunteer to confirm patients, call on the recall list, apply labels to recall postcards, or answer the phone. What she should not do is hide in the lounge, read a magazine, or duck other team members. Helping others is a good way to encourage them to help you when you need it.

No Task is “Beneath” You
While looking for ways to help, it may become apparent that some tasks are less appealing than others. However, in a successful practice, no task is too “lowly” if it helps everyone succeed. For example: It appears the janitorial crew did not complete the job of cleaning the office last night because all of the trash receptacles are still full. The hygienist has twenty minutes until her next patient will arrive. She can help everyone out by grabbing a big trash bag and emptying all the receptacles. Overflowing trash receptacles do not provide a good image for the practice, so emptying them is good for everyone.

Another example: A young mother had to bring her two-year old to her appointment today. One of the assistants has the patient in the chair and the little child is sitting in the treatment room with some toys. He is antsy and is beginning to walk around the room in a disruptive way. The other assistant was getting ready to order supplies, but can see that the situation is getting a little out of hand for her team member. She goes into the treatment room and engages the little boy with conversation and distraction, and with the permission of his mom, eventually takes him out of the operatory and into the children’s area. She plays there with him until her next patient arrives, and then one of the front desk staff takes a turn. It doesn’t matter that it is not our task to be “babysitters” for patients - sometimes it just happens. Helping the mom helps us all. She obtains the treatment she needs, the little boy is entertained, the office is not disrupted, and the mom will probably refer other family members to us.

If You See Something that Needs Doing - DO IT
Don’t wait for someone else to take care of something when you can take a minute and do it yourself. For example: Someone has spilled fruit juice inside the lounge refrigerator. You didn’t do it, but you see it. Grab a wet paper towel and clean it up. The toilet paper dispenser is out of paper in the employee rest room. Get a new roll and put it on. The toy chest is low on toys for the kids. Find a pack of toys and refill it. Waiting for others to do something is not good for the team. Do it yourself!

Being a member of a dental team means more than just providing great dentistry. It means providing a positive atmosphere for both staff and patients. Being part of an effective dental team is very rewarding. We can take pride in the treatment we provide, while also getting great pleasure in working well together. It’s great to be part of a great team!

Carol Tekavec RDH is the Director of Hygiene for McKenzie Management.  Carol can improve your hygiene department in just one day of training “in your office.” Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department?  Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.

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