How to Avoid Sabotaging Your Hygiene Schedule
Running behind can make you lose your mind! One of the biggest non-clinical challenges a dental hygienist faces everyday is the ability to stay on schedule. Some days it takes a skillful genius to rebound from a sabotaged schedule. Time is the culprit – and identifying how you can save (or waste) time is always enlightening.
Each person’s time is to be respected, both the staff and the patient. Running late consistently is stressful for patients and dental professionals, alike. Consider this, your waiting room shouldn’t be taken literally. Avoiding sabotage takes a team-centered approach with time management and communication.
- Be prepared. Read your patient’s chart prior to getting them into the treatment room. A morning team huddle is ideal for the entire team to grasp the day and where help will be needed with a fellow team member.
- Get things done. Have the doctor perform the exam any time after the pre-procedural tasks are accomplished. Health history, blood pressure, dental x-rays or intra-oral pictures. This will save you and your patient from aging while waiting for an exam.
- Late patient? Accept a practice strategy for when a patient is late or when a patient is scheduled for 60 minutes and requires more. My recommendation for late patients is to complete documentation, including dental radiographs, oral hygiene review and doctor exam, but schedule to bring them back for their wellness visit or periodontal therapy. Time, including yours, is to be respected.
- Treatment room supplies. Ever feel like you are in a scavenger hunt just to locate digital sensors? So much time is wasted to hunt them down, set them up and then notice you’re low on other items like fluoride varnish, your one favorite ultrasonic insert, or saliva ejectors.
- Socializing. Whether it is the doctor or dental hygienist, be aware of how much time is spent socializing. Nurturing the patient/professional relationship is separate from conversations that can delay your day.
- Clinician speed. Every dental professional can relate. Find a balance between a tortoise and a rabbit.
Every team member and dentist must be clear on how a hygiene schedule can stay on time. This seemingly simple statement is always the elephant in the room. After 28 years of clinical hygiene, I still struggled with mastering the skills of time savers and suckers. My motivation came from wanting to give respect to my patients and receive respect right back from them. Running late consistently sends an unspoken message of disrespect. Make a top 3 of time savers and time suckers list like above, and compare with your team’s answers. Strive for success with your hygiene schedule not a circus!
Anastasia L. Turchetta, RDH
America’s Dental Hygienist