10.12.12 Issue #553 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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Uniformity in the Office
By Nancy Caudill

Should there be “uniforms” for the office team? This is a good question and has varied answers depending on the doctor, the team and the patients.

Business Attire vs. Scrubs in the Business Office
“We are too cold, too hot, too uncomfortable, too dressy, not dressy enough,” etc. If there is such a thing as “normal” in any dental office, McKenzie Management recommends business attire for two reasons. First of all, the business team is discussing financial manners with patients and in some cases, such as with the treatment coordinator, it is important to illustrate a power of persuasion and confidence.

The second reason is to distinguish the business team from the clinical team for the patients. There is an exception, and this is when there is a business team member who assists in the clinical area throughout the day. However, this is not to say that the business person could not easily wear a long-sleeved and cuffed lab jacket over their business attire and still be OSHA-compliant.

Who chooses the business wear and who pays? Another good question. If the doctor buys, the doctor should have the final say in the decision making. In fairness to the business team, if the doctor is providing scrubs for the clinical team, an equivalent amount of investment should be made for the business team. It is all about being fair!

What do they look like? Catalogs such as Lands End, LL Bean, Coldwater Creek, etc. offer a large selection of business attire in a range of sizes for all needs. Some doctors purchase a nice blazer with the practice logo embroidered on the shoulder in a color that blends with the office décor. The employee is then responsible for providing their own slacks and shoes, as well as a nice blouse or sweater. Depending on the investment made for the clinical uniforms, either a different colored blazer could be purchased or a couple pairs of slacks, etc. Remember to keep the investment equal for all team members.

A subject that many dentists despise addressing is the employee that tends to wear t-shirts and other variations of tops that are not professional in a dental office. In other words, they would be more appropriate for the nightclubs or a stroll along the beach. “But how do I tell her?” You buy unified business attire that dictates how the tops are designed…end of discussion.

Regarding shoes in the business area - flip flops are not appropriate business attire in a professional dental office. Again, the doctor states “I am embarrassed to say anything about her flip flops.” Doctor, it is much easier to talk about the inappropriate shoes opposed to the low-cut blouse. If the doctor is buying the shoes, the doctor can dictate the style and color. If the employees are buying, the doctor determines the required color and any other specifications and the rest is up to the staff member.

Let’s move on to the clinical team. You are going to select your uniforms for the next 12 months. Remember that not everyone looks good in some styles, so choose uniforms that have the same color but a variety of styles so everyone feels comfortable when they seat their first patient. How many sets do you need? One for each day that you work, unless you have an on-site laundry and someone is doing the laundering every day. Then you can get by with 2-3 sets, but you will need to buy them every 6 months so it all comes out the same “in the wash,” so to speak.

The doctor is required to provide long-sleeved cuffed lab jackets, gowns, tops or whatever it is going to be. It appears that most offices wear short-sleeved scrub tops and long-sleeved lab jackets over their scrub top. If you are in doubt about being OSHA compliant, visit the ADA or OSHA website for more details.

To a consultant, there is nothing more professional than to attend the morning meeting on the first day and see the entire team dressed in similar styles and the same color (the doctor, too). I know that patients appreciate knowing they have chosen a dental practice that is professional and cares about their appearance as much as the high quality of their dental services.

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