So, You Have a New Doctor
This article is not only for the new dental graduates that will soon be entering the work force, but also for the practices that may bring on an associate this year, offices that may be bought by a new owner, and hygienists that may decide to make a change when it comes to the doctor they are working for. I would like to say congratulations to all of the graduating dentists and hygienists that will be entering the work force, and to all of those doctors that are buying or starting their first practice. I hope you love dentistry as much as I do.
One of the first recommendations when it comes to a new practice, whether you are a doctor or hygienist, is to get to know how things are done in that practice, and why. Once you have really seen and experienced how and why things are done, evaluate if they are working. If it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it. Oftentimes new employees enter a practice and try to suggest and make a lot of changes, so that things are done the way they are used to. This makes it a lot easier for them to do their job, but makes everybody else change. With so many different personalities on the dental team, it’s important that the office be run in the way which is best for the practice overall, as well as what’s best for patient care.
Transition is not something that should be rushed into quickly. There are many different systems that need to be analyzed in order to determine if they are working. If there are areas that need to be changed, it is recommended that you consult with professionals that have been into many practices, and are able to help with what works best when trying to increase your new patient flow, patient retention, and profitability.
Hygienists, you are a very big part of this transition if you have a new doctor or associate joining the team you work for. Not only should you support the doctor’s treatment plans, as you always should have been doing, but you also need to support and help the new doctor build patient rapport with the clients you have seen for a long time. Take the time to not only introduce the patient to the doctor, but also help bridge the gap between the patient and the doctor when it comes to their comfort level with one another. This may be done by encouraging conversation between them about similar interests, specifically getting the new doctor to check an area, or explaining to the patient how excited the practice is to have the new doctor on board.
Don’t miss this perfect opportunity to ask patients to refer in their friends, family and co-workers. Tell them that you are looking forward to the practice growing and being able to provide quality care to more people, now that the new doctor is on your team. This goes the same when it comes to hiring a new hygienist into the practice. The doctor and entire team should make a conscious effort to make him/her feel comfortable seeing your patients, and making the patients comfortable seeing the new hygienist. This can begin with the confirmation phone call. “Tom, you will be seeing our new hygienist, Sally, today. We are very excited to have Sally on our team as she has a lot to offer you as a patient, with her skills and expertise as a dental hygienist.” This will help stop the surprise the patient feels when a new hygienist walks out to get them, and they want to know “What happened to the other girl?”
The morning meeting is a perfect time to give the new doctor or hygienist some of the patient’s background info. If needed, you may want to even give your patients some background on the new doctor or hygienist. This will make them feel like they know the new team member, at least a little bit, when they walk in the door. All of this takes time, and quite a bit of energy, but it is also priceless when it comes to how smoothly (or not smoothly) the transition of a new doctor or hygienist into the practice is.
The key to helping the practice grow is asking every chance you can for referrals from existing patients, retaining existing patients through the efforts put forward by the entire team, and increasing profitability through new services that are offered by the new doctor or hygienist.
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