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7.18.08 Issue #332 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague
Leadership Essentials
Dentist Coach
Recall or Recare System

Leadership Essentials For Every New Dentist
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Upon entering your first “real” dental practice either as an associate or as an owner, with your dental degree in hand and requisite experience on your resume, it’s likely that one thing became abundantly clear very early on: The learning process had only just begun. There is a whole lot more to this career in dentistry than most young dentists ever imagine.

Almost without warning, many are tossed into leadership roles seemingly overnight. And it’s that part of the job requirement that often leaves new dentists shaking their heads in bewilderment. Certainly, there is a lot to learn as a leader, but here are a few essentials to follow from day one as “The Boss.”

#1 Never Assume
Assuming that your staff knows what you want is the most common pitfall in leading employees. Spell out your expectations and the employees’ responsibilities in black and white for every member of your team from the beginning. Do NOT convince yourself that because they’ve worked in this dental practice for X number of years that they know how you want things done. They don’t, and they will simply keep performing their responsibilities according to what they think you want unless they are directed otherwise.

For example, your scheduling coordinator may be very experienced in scheduling according to how other doctors want their days structured, which may in fact be very different from how you want your day scheduled. Most good employees want clear direction, and it’s tremendously frustrating for everyone when the staff is forced to guess at what you want. So speak up.

#2 Staff Success = Your Success
Recognize the strengths and weaknesses among your team members. All employees bring both to their positions. The fact is that some people are much better suited for certain responsibilities and not others. Just because Brittany has been handling insurance and collections for the practice doesn’t mean she’s effective in those areas. Look at results. Brittany may be much more successful at scheduling and recall and thus better suited for those duties. Don’t be afraid to restructure responsibilities to make the most of team strengths. Invest in training early and often to build loyalty and ensure excellence.

#3 Give Feedback Often
Along with clear expectations, direction and guidance, employees crave feedback. Don’t be stingy. Give praise often and appraise performance regularly. Employees want to know where they stand and how they can improve. Verbal feedback can be given at any time but it is most effective at the moment the employee is engaging in the behavior that you either want to praise or correct.

If the assistant emphasizes to Mrs. Patient just how much she is going to absolutely LOVE her new veneers and steers the patient clear of second guessing this investment she is about to make, thank her! Express your sincere appreciation and emphasize the value of the assistant’s contribution to the practice. Similarly, if employees need constructive feedback, don’t be shy with that either. If the front desk helper is talking about how gross she/he thinks that whole implant thing is, she/he needs education and constructive direction.

Nip problems in the bud or you’ll suffer numerous thorns in your side. If an employee is not fulfilling her/his responsibilities, address the issue privately and directly. Be prepared to discuss the key points of the problem as you see it, as well as possible resolutions.

Use performance reviews to motivate and encourage your team to thrive in their positions. Base your performance measurements on individual jobs. Focus on specific job-related goals and how those relate to improving the total practice. Used effectively, employee performance measurements and reviews offer critical information that is essential to your efforts to make major decisions regarding patients, financial concerns, management systems, productivity and staff in your new practice.

Every member of your team is as an extension of you. They will affect whether you have enough money to pay your bills. They will keep your schedule on track or off. They will tell you what you don’t want to hear when you don’t want to hear it. They will be a source of great joy and satisfaction as well as anger and frustration. But no matter what, your success as a dentist is dependent upon your ability to lead them effectively.

Next week, the numbers every new dentist must know.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at
Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

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Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
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Bring Home The Gold: Visualize Practice Success

Athletes, entertainers and salespeople have been using visualization for decades. Now you have an opportunity to use the technique if you want to be an Olympic Gold Leader.

Visual images hold amazing power. Seeing really is believing! Seeing is also achieving. Think you can’t picture things in your mind? Try this: Imagine a big polar bear, eating a chocolate ice cream cone that’s melting onto his white fur coat. I bet you’re smiling as you “see” that image in your mind’s eye.

Visualization is the skill of creating a mental model of an event or situation. With PET scans of the brain, researchers have found that the same parts of the cerebral cortex are activated when we imagine something as when we actually experience it. Thus, visual imagery activates the visual cortex in the same manner as an actual external visual experience. In other words, the body doesn't know the difference between something we imagine and something that really happens. With the repetition of a sequence of thoughts and images—visualization—the associated pattern in the nervous system is strengthened. Responses that are imagined have a higher probability of occurring in the actual situation.

Still think you’re not a good visualizer? Think again.

Ever looked at the schedule to see the name of a difficult patient, and then tensed up as you pictured a frustrating late afternoon appointment? Have you missed daily production goals, and then felt knots in your stomach as you worried about making payroll that month? Everybody has some degree of mental eyesight. The problem is that most people use visualization the wrong way. They imagine exactly what they don’t want!

I seriously doubt you go through the day without any expectations. More than likely you expect negative things that might happen and you try to brace yourself against the situations you wish to avoid. But therein lies the problem… and the solution.

The negative scenes you play in your mind have a powerful effect on your present and your future. The greater the number of limiting mental images you generate, the more negative energy they create… and the more your life will be dominated by negative rather than positive outcomes. It’s time to stop being a victim of your own thinking and map out a vision of what you do want.

Set aside an hour for quiet reflection. Think about a time when you felt most alive, most fulfilled or most excited about your work. What made it exciting? Who else was involved? Write about how you felt.

Think about what you really love. Avoid being practical; there’ll be plenty of time for that later. For now, let your imagination soar.

Think about some of the things you value deeply, specifically the things you value about yourself, about the nature of your work and about your practice.

When you are visualizing, pay attention to the feelings that surface within you. Maybe these are emotions you haven’t felt in a while, like exhilaration, happiness and enthusiasm.

Get a picture in your mind’s eye of what you want your practice to be. What does it look like? It is important that you put yourself in the “director’s chair” of your inner “movie”. See yourself as a highly effective leader. You are the one who establishes the vision, mission and goals of the team. You push your employees toward high performance standards while facilitating a supportive work environment. You use good listening skills with patients and staff. You enable others to express their views. You recognize and praise staff for their efforts. You encourage everyone to participate in discussions and decisions. You provide feedback to your team with honesty and kindness. You emphasize task accomplishments while helping the group to create an informal, relaxed climate. You know the value of positive office dynamics.

Imagine how you will feel as you experience positive responses to your new leadership behaviors. You affirm your strengths while continuously looking for ways to improve. Interactions between you and others are collaborative and respectful, even when there are differences of opinion. Despite emotional tension, you continue to dialogue about solutions. You remain flexible and open to new ideas. At the same time, you know when it’s necessary to show courage, keeping the team and its members on course.

So here’s the experiment: Notice how much attention you give to what you don’t want, and change to thinking about what you do want. See what happens.

Stop justifying a so-so existence and contact Dr. Haller at She’ll help you to reach the gold in your practice.  can then see their body movements Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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Angie Stone RDH, BS
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Recall, Recare, Who Really Cares?

Over the years there has been discussion about what an appointment should be called when a patient returns for a hygiene visit. Some say “recall” and some prefer “recare.” The question is not what it should be called but rather, “Who in the office really cares about this system?”

Answer the following questions to determine if anyone in your practice cares!

  • Does your hygiene schedule stay booked for the day and have 0.5 openings per day or less?
  • Does your office have a team member who is responsible and accountable for the recall system and is it listed in the job description?
  • Is the lost production for the open time monitored?
  • Are you sure you have the correct amount of hygiene hours available each month to accommodate all the patients who are in need of their professional cleaning and oral examination, including new patients and periodontal therapy patients?
  • Is the hygiene time you have available based upon the number of active recall patients, the average number of new patients and the historic periodontal services in your practice?
  • Is the amount of hygiene hours needed determined every three months?

If you responded with a NO to two or more of these questions, it would be safe to say that no one in the office cares about the recall system (or recare system, if you prefer). Without constant “caring” for this system, the dental practice will have a struggle keeping the hygiene department in the black.

This system is one of the most vital systems of a dental practice and the one that dentists, hygienists, assistants and business office personnel often have no idea how to manage. Oh, they all think they know, but an analysis of the system almost always proves they do not. At best, offices send out “cutesy” postcards to patients who are due for their appointments, asking them to phone and schedule. That is usually the extent of the system.

When asked what happens if the patient does not call, the response is often a blank stare and silence. After a few seconds of thought, they reply with, “Nothing.” No appointment gets scheduled, nobody is in the chair, oral health is not being assessed and no treatment is being provided. This translates to big losses for the practice and the patients.

What can you do to ensure this system is being cared for in your office? Employees cannot do what they have not been taught to do. That being said, the first step is education. In today’s dental offices, most systems are implemented by a dental software program. Look into how your software tracks and manages the recall statistics. This may require hands-on training from the software provider. If this avenue is selected, it is wise to train all employees, not only the business personnel. Although this can help bring the recall system up to speed, it is not going to fix the system entirely.

Software instruction is most effective when utilized in conjunction with McKenzie Management’s Hygiene Enrichment Program. This program teaches the whole team the who, what, where, when and why of the recall system. At the conclusion of the program, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind why this is one of the most, if not THE most important system in the dental office. The result of the investment in your recall system will include fewer openings in the hygiene chair, better patient service and retention, less time spent attempting to track patients down and increased production and revenue of the hygiene department.

The Hygiene Enrichment Program includes education on many other topics in addition to the recall system that will benefit your practice, including:

  • how to develop and incorporate an effective periodontal therapy program,
  • how to bill dental insurance for periodontal therapy services,
  • how to discuss periodontal disease with patients,
  • how to increase patient compliance,
  • how to increase hygiene production/revenue, and more.

Take the first step toward caring for your recall/recare system today. You will begin to see both the benefits for patients and the practice start improving immediately.

Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department?

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