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07.01.05 Issue #173
Dull, Dry Ads Make for Dull, Dry Applications

Sally McKenzie, CEO
The McKenzie Company

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You may be a fantastic clinician, the best dentist for 200 miles, but if the quality of your employees is "average" patients perceive the quality of your care to be just so-so as well. Like it or not, your success hinges on the caliber of people you surround yourself with, making it all the more critical that when it comes to hiring staff the focus is on building the team and the practice and not on just filling a vacancy. To do so, you need a strong pool of candidates, and that requires planning and preparation.

First think about the type of applicant you want and target your message to appeal to that audience. Consider their employment needs and desires - not just your own. Dental auxiliaries, for example, have five primary objectives when job hunting: salary, benefits, location, hours, and status . Set your practice apart by highlighting all of those in your advertising.

Most hygienists are paid hourly or daily rates. Advertising a guaranteed base that is 33% of your average monthly hygiene production, excluding the doctor's exam fees, plus a 15% commission for all hygiene production over the average is certainly different from what the dentist down the street is doing, and it is likely to attract those who see themselves as effective producers . In addition, hygienists are often attracted to treatments and advanced equipment advertised. Clinical assistants aspire to do more than just pass instruments. They are looking for progressive offices that delegate tasks and offer opportunities to work more closely with patients.

Your ad should be descriptive - no abbreviated terms - and use active verbs as often as possible. You want even those who are just browsing to stop and take notice. Consider this approach:

Experienced Dental Assistant needed to join our team! If you're a self-starter with excellent communication skills who enjoys presenting treatment plans to patients, this is your opportunity. You'll learn to use our cosmetic imager and other advanced technology in this state-of-the-art, restorative/cosmetic practice. Excellent benefits, 34-hour week. Fax confidential resume to 341-8458. Or email to

Use wording that appeals to the reader on both professional and emotional levels.

Get paid to learn a valuable new skill!
If you would like to pursue an exciting career in the healthcare field and learn how to become a dental assistant, we will teach you. You'll receive an excellent wage, between $6-$8/hr, and you'll learn how to assist with patients and doctors in a professionally rewarding and challenging environment. Fax resume to 341-8458. Or email to

List a dental business employee position as "Administrative Assistant" and run it in the "Clerical" section of the classifieds. You'll generate much wider interest if you consider applicants without previous dental office experience. While professional training is essential, applicants are less likely to bring preconceived notions of how a dental practice should operate.

Self-starter with strong organizational and communication skills sought to manage patient and business activities in a progressive eastside dental practice. No prior dental office experience required. Professional training provided. 36-hour week. Excellent benefit package. Fax confidential resume to 341-8458. Or email to

Evaluate your advertising from the prospective applicant's viewpoint . Have you conveyed a sense of opportunity and professional growth for the applicant or is the ad focused primarily on the needs of the practice? Have you communicated a sense of team or will the prospective employee feel like just another cog in the wheel? Have you noted earning potential and general scope of the duties or is the text cryptic and evasive?

Be sure your ad gives clear instructions on how to apply and offer the option of faxing, mailing, or emailing a resume and calling to inquire further about the position. Emphasize that all inquiries are confidential as most employees do not want their employer to know they are looking for another position.

The goal of your advertising and recruitment efforts is to develop a pool of solid applicants from which you can make a quality hiring decision. Dull, dry ads attract dull, dry applicants. Use your classified ads to sell the job to prospective candidates and you'll be far more likely to have "buyers" lining up for a chance at your position.

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

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

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Intra-Oral Camera..Priceless

Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant McKenzie Management

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WOW! Your office has purchased intra-oral cameras. It is so exciting when we first get new "toys". Unfortunately, sometimes it is just like when we were kids. The newness wears off and the toy ends up in the bottom of our toy box. In the dental office that toy box is in the back of the operatory or hanging from the ceiling collecting dust.

This technology is priceless in the hands of the right person, and anybody can be that right person with a little training on how to utilize it to your advantage. Particularly when it comes to time management, diagnosis, and treatment plan acceptance. Remember a picture is worth a thousand words.

Everybody is using loupes these days because of increased visibility, which is great while you are working on the patient. However, I have to say that when it comes to the initial examination of the mouth there is nothing like an intra-oral camera. Not only is this great technology for the operator but for the patient also. I have yet to see a patient be able to put a pair of loupes on and look into their own mouth. Do not misinterpret this message. Loupes are great for the operator to use in order to increase their vision and expertise. However, at this point in the initial exam it is about the patient being able to see.

What I found to work best once I have reviewed the health history and I have laid the patient back is to glance over all of the occlusal surfaces with my camera looking for "suspicious areas". Then I check over the facial and lingual aspects of the tooth, taking any pertinent pictures along the way. These pictures may consist of any treatment pending, visual calculus, inflamed tissue, leaking margins, old restorations, or any large old fillings. This takes the same amount of time as it would with your mirror, except you now have pictures to share with your patient of any "suspicious areas" that you may have spotted.

Now, you can either go over what you see in the mouth with the patient, or you can explain to the patient that you took pictures of suspicious areas. But until you can evaluate them closer with instruments, loupes, and x-rays (if the patient needs them), you are not sure if they will need treatment in these areas. Let them know that you will go over what you see when you are done with the prophylaxis. The hygienist should leave these pictures up on the screen until the doctor has diagnosed the treatment needed.

Which brings us to another benefit. Leaving the pictures on the screen with extensive notes in the record will help the doctor with his/her exam. The hygienist should have at least four pictures available for the doctor to view at every exam. This will help with time management because the doctor will be in and out of your room quicker. And the patient is getting a more complete exam. However, the information the hygienist provides to the dentist needs to be complete.

When you go to get the doctor for the exam, go over what you saw with the doctor while walking down the hallway. When the doctor does come in for the exam, explain to the doctor and patient what you think may be going on, showing the pictures you have taken to both the doctor and patient. It would be best to have the patient in an up right position so they can see the screen. Make sure to include the patient in on the conversation. Allowing the patient to ask any questions they may have. Actually, you may want to ask the doctor questions for the patient. The patient does not always know what they should be asking, and they depend on the person they know best in the practice to help them out.

Once the treatment has been diagnosed, and you are going over the pictures along with what treatment is needed, be sure to sit the patient up, remove the bib, and make eye contact . Show each picture that shows the area that needs treatment. Explain why each area needs the treatment that has been diagnosed by the doctor. The pictures you have of teeth that just have "suspicious areas", but do not need treatment should be explained to the patient too.

The patient is more likely to accept treatment needed if they have been thoroughly educated about their needs. With the use of the pictures from the intra-oral camera you will have successfully educated your patient both verbally and nonverbally.

Now, there is no reason for that "toy" to ever sit and collect dust. Not only does the intra-oral camera help with time management , but it also helps with diagnosis, and patient education. The intra-oral camera should end up being your favorite "toy" at the top of the toy box.

Jean conducts 2 day Hygiene Performance Enrichment Programs for The Center for Dental Career Development and McKenzie Management in La Jolla/San Diego, CA. Contact her at or 1-877-777-6151 Ext. 23

Interested in having Jean speak to your dental group? Email us at or call 1-877-777-6151

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Messages On Hold
Dear Sally,

How long do you think is appropriate for our patients to be "on hold" before one of my team members gets back to them? I just keep seeing that flashing red light on the phone for what seems like an eternity!

Dr. New York

Dear Doctor,

It is a fact that patient's are put on hold and sometimes longer than we would want. Patient's are checking out, checking in, phones are ringing and clinical staff want to know if their patient has arrived. Unclear job descriptions also causes confusion so the right hand doesn't know "who's on first base."

Studies show that after only 17 seconds, callers on hold become annoyed. However, the patient is far more understanding if the Business Coordinator explains why the patient is being asked to hold and provides the estimated time required. Never put a caller on-hold without asking for their permission, and then waiting for their response. "Mrs. Jones, may I put you on hold while I check on that?" Putting patients on hold without their consent is a guarantee that you will instantly make a very poor impression. Knowing beforehand how long they can expect to wait reduces the chance of annoyance, particularly among long distance and cellular phone callers.

Another option to prevent frustration is to offer the caller the option of either holding or hanging up and having their call returned within a brief, specific time period. However, it is inevitable that patients will be put on hold.

Educating the patient is essential in reinforcing the importance of professional dental care as well as informing patients about other services the practice provides. No matter what size your practice, it's likely that, at least occasionally, patients must be placed on hold. Use this time to educate your patients with specially developed informative messages that enlighten the patient about services you provide.

"Messages on Hold" allows you to choose specific messages for your needs such as promoting veneers, or porcelain inlays, or the importance of sealants for young children. You should have the flexibility to change your message when you want, i.e., when you introduce new techniques into the practice, for example.

The equipment should not be cumbersome and easily plugged into your phone system. With silence on hold, 60% hang up in less than a minute . Don't let that happen to your patients. Take the opportunity to enhance your image. Effectively utilize the time callers wait on hold to motivate and educate, transforming an otherwise wasted opportunity into a positive experience for the listener.

Kind regards,


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2005 Location Sponsor Information Topic Speaker
July 21-24 San Diego, CA IA of Comprehensive Aesthe 702-341-7978 Peak Performer Sally McKenzie
July 28 La Jolla, CA Southern CA Ortho. Symposium 619-656-4646 Top Issues Sally McKenzie
August 13 Topeka, KS Delta Dental Plan of Kansas 800-733-5823 Breakdown Sally McKenzie
Sept. 9-11 San Francisco, CA California Dental Association 916-443-0505 Successes Sally McKenzie
Sept. 22 El Paso, TX El Paso Dental Society 877-777-6151 Breakdown Sally McKenzie
Sept. 23-24 Griffin, GA Endo Magic Root Camp 877-478-9748 Top Issues Sally McKenzie
Oct. 14 Riverside, CA Riverside Implant Study Group 951-279-7847 TBA Sally McKenzie
Nov. 18-19 Griffin, GA Endo Magic Root Camp 877-478-9748 Top Issues Sally McKenzie
Dec. 1 Cincinnati, OH Cincinnati Dental Society 513-984-3443 Breakdown Sally McKenzie

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