Saturday, June 28, 2014

"Help, I'm behind"

No matter how well I plan it seems that sometimes I just can't stay on schedule.  If I had to list the number one stress in my professional life it would be this, getting behind on my schedule.

So, what should happen when I'm behind.

First, hopefully my front desk people are paying attention and can begin to run interference for me.  This might include calling the next patients and warning them about my schedule.  They are given the option of coming later or rescheduling, whichever works best for them.

Second, I hope that my back staff don't add to the pressure.  Imagine I am behind and doing the best I can and a staff member comes in and says "I have a patient who has been waiting 30 minutes for an exam" or even "Do you have any idea how much longer you are going to be?"  I already I know I'm behind and don't need the fact rubbed in my face.  Furthermore, how do you think that the patient I am working on will feel if they here those sorts of comments.  Probably they are thinking, "I guess I am going to get a rush job here since he is so far behind"  Better to just leave me a note with the time written on it stating what you need from me.

Far better would be for my staff to start working on ways to help me get back on schedule.  Maybe a hygienist can do my anesthetic on the next patient.  Maybe an assistant can take the hygienist's next patient and get them started so that they aren't waiting as well.  Maybe we can reduce the amount of treatment we are doing on another patient.  Perhaps you can explain in a kind way to other patients why they are having to wait.  I find that the next patient is much more willing to be forgiving when they hear something like "Sorry for the wait.  We had someone show up with their front tooth knocked out and we are doing our best to take care of them and still take care of you."  When patients realize that I am helping someone else and doing my best they tend to be less annoyed.

Third, and this is important, the most person in my whole world is the one that I am working on at that moment.  There is a temptation when you are behind to cut corners to try and catch up.  You just can't fall into that trap.  We had a mission statement in our office.  It is posted in every single room.  It states,
"We believe in providing our patients with the same quality of care 
that we would like to receive ourselves."

When I am behind I often look at that statement or at least think about it.  The problems with my schedule will soon be behind me but the work that I do and the way that I treat people will remain.

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