The New Hygiene Department
It is not uncommon for new dentists to clean teeth in their practice when they are first starting. It is also not uncommon when those same dentists find their schedule getting so full with restorative work that they decide to hire a hygienist. When done correctly, this may be a very profitable venture, not only when looking at the doctor’s production, but also the hygiene production.
Starting a hygiene department is much more than hiring a hygienist. There are many different items that need to be considered such as, job description for the hygienist, forms that will be utilized, and office protocol to be determined.
Job descriptions help when the doctor is looking at doing performance reviews or evaluating who should or should not get raises. They also help when hiring new hygienists by allowing them to understand the expectations of the job description they are interviewing for and their willingness to accept the responsibilities before taking the position. This will hopefully prevent your practice from hiring people that are not willing to do the job needed, in order to be a part of your team, thus helping to cut down on the amount of turnover.
What forms are recommended when looking at starting a hygiene department? A daily hygiene monitor is recommended in order for the hygiene department to be accountable for monitoring their production and reporting it at staff meetings. A recall treatment form is recommended for the hygienists to share in the responsibility of reinforcing treatment the doctor has diagnosed on recall patients. Both of these forms help with employee evaluations as they help in creating accountability. We all know that the patient should sign an informed consent, particularly when any treatment is recommended.
There are many protocols that need to be determined when establishing a hygiene department.
Who is going to see the patient first?
Some of the answers to the above questions may vary depending on state laws.
What will the answer be when the patients start asking, “Why isn’t the doctor doing my cleaning any more?” This may not be asked very often, but for those patients who do ask, verbiages will need to be created in order to have continuity throughout the office. The staff may answer, “The doctor has hired a hygienist and Sarah will take excellent care of you. She will now be providing all of your professional dental hygiene needs for you. Sarah’s degree in dental hygiene concentrates specifically in this area.” Possibly the doctor would prefer the staff to say, “Sarah is an excellent dental hygienist and she will now be taking care of all of your professional dental hygiene needs. She has been highly educated when it comes to dental hygiene.” Every doctor has his or her own preference when it comes to answering questions patients may ask, and verbiages should be talked about and gone over at staff meetings.
Taking time to plan and organize the hygiene department at the start of your practice may pay off even more than you think. Waiting until the practice is busy tends to lead to a hygiene department that is reactive instead of proactive and productive.
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