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Angry Patients


Dear Sharyn

A few weeks ago, a dad brought his child to our practice and refused to wear a mask. According to my front desk employee, he yelled at her and argued that he shouldn’t have to wear one and that we were violating his rights. He upset her so much that she resigned afterwards. She told me she just can’t handle the continual stress of dealing with angry patients who are upset about everything from masks to getting convenient appointments. I didn’t see the interaction so I don’t know what happened. What should I do now?

T.S, N.H.

Dear T.S.,

I suspect that this incident represented the proverbial last straw for your employee, which is why she resigned. Now you need to ask yourself some hard questions. Do your patients typically feel free to be confrontative with your team? If so, why is this? What have you said and done when patients have been this angry?  Does your team feel you support patients more than you support them?

It might have made a difference to your employee, if you called the patient after this incident. Because you didn’t witness the conversation, you could have said this:

Mr. Patient I understand you had a difficult conversation with my employee today. Can you tell me what happened from your perspective? 

I recognize that you made a personal decision not to wear a mask, but my practice must adhere to strict safety measures to keep us and our patients safe. Mask are non-negotiable in my office and if this is something you can’t do, then we won’t be able to have you in our office again.

In addition, my employee shared that your communication with her was not respectful. In fact, she resigned due to this incident. So while I sympathize that you felt frustrated, I can’t have you speaking to my employees in a way that disrespects their dignity and professionalism.

Given this information, would you like me to forward your child’s records to someone else or will you be able to abide by our requirements?

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Inspired Us to Dream Bigger, and it Works

“As an Office Manager, I’ve seen a great difference in my practice since starting with Sharyn. Three years ago our staff was in turmoil with a lot of infighting and gossip and some jealousy directed towards me.

I had given up because everything I did was judged. Now I have learned to have more one-to-one communication and by being more vulnerable with individuals I found my leadership voice. As a team, we’re all focused on the same goals.

Last year, in August we produced $88,000. This year we’re on track to produce $111,000 this month. I know it’s because we learned how to follow through with patients and communicate our expectations while building our systems.

Sharyn has gotten us out of our comfort zone and inspired us to dream bigger and it works.”

–Sharon St Pierre, Sperbeck Dental Care

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