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  Sally McKenzie's
 Weekly Management e-Motivator
  3.05.04 Issue #104

What Do I Have to Do to Get a Decent Hire?

Sally Mckenzie, CMC
McKenzie Management

       In one year Dr. Tom (real dentist, fake name) hired and fired ten dental assistants –yes 10. Dr. Tom wasn’t eyeing placement in the world record books but certainly, with an employment history like that, he would likely be a contender for a dubious distinction of some sort. Now I suspect a number of you will think, “Whoa, Dr. Perfectionist Tom will never be happy with anyone.” Others will surmise that Dr. Tom has a very high standard and simply won’t settle for less. I contend that Dr. Tom has an ineffective recruitment strategy. As the revolving door dental assistant saga

illustrates, Dr. Tom got what he consistently didn’t want because he consistently used an ineffective approach. Undoubtedly, he has paid a huge price in antacids alone, not to mention the impact on the rest of his team and his patients.

Whether your practice is filling a vacant position once a month or once a year, the office must have a recruitment system in place that can kick into gear immediately. In some cases doctors and their teams are given adequate notice of an employee’s intention to leave. In other cases, the employee may walk out for lunch and never come back. Regardless of the circumstances, a plan and a system are essential. Too often the stress of losing a team member, even those considered ineffective, can cause the doctor to be pressured into solving the problem promptly – get someone with a pulse in here fast – rather than solving the problem effectively – hire the very best person for the position and the practice.

A standing recruitment protocol is both a necessary everyday practice tool as well as a critical safety net when the staffing situation goes awry. So, how do you recruit the best employee for your practice? First, cover the basics.

  1. Dust off the job description for the position. Think about the type of person your job description is going to attract. Is it going to appeal to the applicant who wants challenge, opportunity, and the chance to be a part of a great team? Or is it going to appeal to a goal-lacking, job hopper who will park in your practice until something better comes along or they win the lottery? Word the description so that it is more likely to appeal to the kind of employee you want representing you on a daily basis. Include the basics such as job title, job summary, and specific duties. This clarifies what skills the applicant must possess and explains what duties they are expected to perform.
  2. Advertise smart. Identify those publications and websites where your ad is most likely to reach the type of employee you want to attract. In addition to the local paper, consider local and area newsletters targeting dental assistants, hygienists, and for business staff -management newsletters, such as Women in Management.
  3. Money Wise. When advertising the position, use annual salary to your advantage. The annual figure has a much greater psychological impact than a per hour figure; however, dentists rarely give a yearly salary range. Place the annual salary range directly under the title of the ad so that it appears as part of the title. If the employee leaving the practice is making $30,000, in the ad headline include a range that is $25,000-35,000. That doesn’t mean that you will pay $35,000 to start but it would be possible for the employee to reach that level.

Next week, streetwise recruitment strategies dentists frequently never even consider.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Sally McKenzie at

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Tech Tips For Today!

Designed to improve management techniques through your technology platform

Mark Dilatush
VP Professional Relations
McKenzie Management

    Last week, [see article], I discussed the steps necessary to set up and implement your lab case management. If you set up your system properly and make sure the team members know how to use it, failsafe lab case tracking will be as automatic as posting a procedure code and running one report every day!

This week, I want to make sure your scheduler is set up properly. When we are in dental practices, we almost always teach better, easier,

faster, and more productive ways to schedule patients. This week, I will just start with the basic setup.

Scheduler Setup

Step 1
Print a complete list of all of the ADA codes your office performs. If you ask your practice management software to print a list of ADA codes, it will print them all. You may want to print a production report with a date range of the last full year. Doing so (with the production report) will show you the ADA codes you performed and the ADA codes you did not perform. Highlight all of the ADA codes that have been performed more than 0 times in the past year. Print one of these reports for each dentist and each hygienist.

A=Assistant (by themselves in the room)
D=Doctor (by themselves in the room)
H=Hygienist (by themselves in the room)
B=Doctor & Assistant (together in the room)
HA=Hygienist & Assistant (together in the room)

Step 2
Take the highlighted list to each dentist and assistant. Deliver the report to each hygienist. Ask them to break down (by time unit) which clinical team member will be required in the treatment room for each procedure. For instance, let’s assume you have assisted hygiene and one hour recall appointments. Let’s also assume your schedule is on 10 minute time units. Using the above guide and six time units per one hour procedure, the hygienist might hand write A-HA-H-H-H-A for a one hour recall.

I hope you follow me so far. The idea is to tell your computer system exactly which clinical team member is assigned to each room (based on procedure being performed) so you can visually see and make the schedule as productive as possible. By seeing this provider allocation on the scheduler, the scheduling coordinator will also be able to avoid double and triple booking a provider. We all know what happens when that happens!

Step 3
Somewhere in your practice management software, there is a place to assign provider allocation. Most (not all) practice management software has this ability where the ADA codes are listed. Usually, it’s the same screen where you enter your fees for each procedure code. Look there first. If you look in the logical areas and can’t find it – call your software support department. They will help you.

Step 4
Take the time allocation from your clinical team members (from the list) and sit down at your computer. Enter the time allocation for each procedure code. Some practice management software will automatically see the new provider allocation of time and automatically show it on the appointments that are already in your electronic scheduler. Other systems will start to show you after the first appointment made. Either way, if you book each dentist in the office across two columns in your appointment book – you should immediately be able to see where you can tighten the schedule and still stay on time without killing anyone.

If your dentist works out of three chairs, the place to put try-ins, suture removals, inserts, and post op checks will become unbelievably obvious! If your dentist is asking the scheduling coordinator to hit a daily goal target – this is definitely a great way to make life easier!

I welcome any and all readers to email me with specific questions, problems, requests and challenges. Who knows? Maybe your inquiry will lead to a new Tips For Today article! Don’t worry, your inquiry will remain anonymous.

Interested in having Mark speak to your dental society or study club?
Click here

If you DON’T do anything to improve your
Practice Performance,
Productivity, or Profitability,

history is bound
to repeat itself.
Find out how you can make the
most of your practice...GO HERE

The Secret To Getting Your Hygiene Patients To Say “YES”

Dr. Allan Monack
Hygiene Clinical Director
McKenzie Management

         Have you ever wondered why a patient did not follow through with the perio treatment you recommended? Are you frustrated when a patient has bleeding gums and says, “All I want is a cleaning.”? Why, after referring a patient to a specialist, do they show up for their six-month recall and tell you that they never made the appointment? As the warden said in the movie, Cool Hand Luke, “We have a failure to communicate.”

Usually, when you have long-term relationships with patients, the trust factor allows you to overcome most potential barriers with little effort. However, years of serving as the family dentist is no guarantee that treatment recommended will always be accepted. Rather a clear process for recommending treatment is consistently the most effective means of securing treatment. In fact, we find that if the treatment is presented to the patient in a carefully orchestrated manner treatment acceptance is almost automatic.

What is the method that gets a patient to say yes to treatment? I call it co-discovery and problem acceptance. Before a patient accepts treatment they need to accept responsibility for their own health. If they don’t perceive a problem they won’t perceive they need a solution. Co-discovery is essential to helping the patient recognize and understand the extent of their oral health problems. How do we implement co-discovery? Let me use the following example. Your office has just instituted protocol to perform scaling and root planing in the hygiene department. Now every patient will have a full mouth evaluation and periodontal probing. The patient is seated. The hygienist notes the condition of the soft tissue and does a full mouth probing. “Mrs. Smith you have gum pockets that need to be treated! We need to scrape your roots and place a medication in the pockets. Let me schedule that for you.” What is the probability that Mrs. Smith will show for this appointment? Has she identified with the diagnosis? Does she understand the maintenance necessary for successful therapy?

Now let’s consider a different approach to diagnosing the problem. “Mrs. Smith, during your last recall visit we noted some bleeding during your cleaning. There may be something occurring that we need to treat to make your gums healthier. As you know, maintaining healthy gums is essential to keeping your teeth. In addition, new research has identified a link between gum disease and heart attacks and strokes. I would like your permission to do a diagnostic probing to find areas that may not be healthy. Let me show you what I will be doing. This is a periodontal probe. Notice the markings. They indicate how far the probe reaches under the gums. If the probing depth is 3mm or less that usually indicates a healthy area. If the probe measures 4mm or greater then it is an indication of a problem. I’m going to hand you a mirror so you can see what I am doing. Do you have any questions before we begin?”

Or better yet, rather than handing the patient a mirror use an intraoral camera to show the patient exactly what is going on. This is an excellent tool to use in involving the patient more closely in co-diagnosis of the dental condition. And you involve the patient in the diagnosis you significantly impact the profitability of the practice. Study after study shows significantly higher case acceptance when patients can see and understand their oral health needs. As the cliché goes, seeing is believing.

Now that you’ve shown them quite clearly what their oral health situation is, it’s time to sit back and listen.

Next week in Part II of The Secret to Getting Your Patients to Say Yes, the importance of Questions and Answers.

If you would like more information on improving your hygiene department contact Dr. Monack at

McKenzie Management’s Hygiene Clinical Practice Enrichment Program is designed to improve Hygiene Clinical Skills and develop and implement a step-by-step Interceptive Periodontal Therapy Program that will immediately bring greater productivity, with enhanced patient care. For more information...GO HERE

Missed Past Issues of Our e-Motivator Newsletter?



Is your hygienist producing at least 33% of her total production in periodontal services? Are the majority of your patients on 6 month recalls?

Most hygienists perform way below the industry standards. Why? Because they can lack disease assessment skills or performance skills, or because they don't know how to communicate to the patient they have been treating every 6 months that they now have gum disease.

This "how to" manual will help you to establish a protocol for your hygienist to implement new strategies, formulas, and techniques for developing an ultra-successful hygiene department. Scripting and Treatment Plans
by Dr. Allan Monack, DMD, FAGD, Hygiene/Clinical Consultant

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MARCH  25  -  27


Sally McKenzie
Mark Dilatush

Sally's Mail Bag

Hi Sally,
I have a new employee starting next week that is going to be in charge of scheduling patients. What kind of advice can I give her about cancellations?
Dr. Postlewait

Dear Dr. Postlewait,
If there is a cancellation in the schedule, filling the open time becomes top priority to the person in charge of scheduling. Even if it is a “last minute” cancellation, try moving the next patient ahead which will allow more time to fill that opening. Don’t get “bogged down” with “priority confusion”. Even though your job may entail tasks such as preparing the daily schedule, pulling charts for the next day, preparing the deposit, etc., those tasks do not take priority over filling an open time slot. In order to feel comfortable in letting those tasks go undone, obtain the support of your doctor and clinical staff. If, for example, the charts were’t pulled for the next day, they understand that time was spent securing scheduled appointments. The priority of the person responsible for scheduling is to have the schedule full and meeting the daily production goal. The easiest step to take in getting an open time slot filled is calling patients who want to come in sooner, if there is an opening. This technique is simply “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, and not putting any additional production on the schedule. Patients who do not have appointments should be called first. However, the exception to the rule is when a patient gives less than a 1/2 day notice of not being able to keep their appointment. Due to a time constraint to get it filled, move an existing scheduled patient into that slot. If more than 1/2 day notice is given, call those patients from your Unscheduled Treatment Plan Report or Tickler File/Missed Appointments Report.


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Treatment Coordinators
Hygiene Coordinators

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This issue is sponsored
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The Center for Dental Career Development
San Diego Workshop Series
Fall/Winter Schedule
 Date Seminar Instructor(s)  
 Mar. 5
 9:00 - 4:00
How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Sally McKenzie, CMC.  
 Apr. 7
 9:00 - 4:00
How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Sally McKenzie, CMC.  
 May. 7
 9:00 - 4:00
How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Sally McKenzie, CMC.  
 June 4
 9:00 - 4:00
How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Sally McKenzie, CMC.  

The Center for Dental Career Development has been approved under the Academy of General Dentistry Program Approval for Continuing Education (PACE) program. Starting 10/19/03 through 10/18/07 members of the Academy of General Dentistry can receive AGD credits for all seminars and workshops sponsored by the Center for Dental Career Development.

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