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The Case of The Quickie Hygienist


My patients are complaining that their hygiene appointments seem too quick and their teeth “feel dirty.” I have observed that patients are dismissed within 30 minutes. I’ve talked to my hygienist about this and she gets defensive, telling me this is the way she learned it in school. She’s been with me about a year. Should I let her go?

K.B., Indiana

Dear K.B,

Let’s say you want a talking frog, but your frog refuses to answer your questions.  Before you trade in for a better frog, you need to do some diagnosis.  Is what you are asking for reasonable and possible? In the case of the frog – probably not, but if a 50–60-minute prophy is reasonable to expect, then you need to first ascertain that the hygienist knows the clinical criteria for this appointment and is capable of doing it.  If the performance gap is due to a skill issue, then you need to design a training program that includes coaching and feedback. But if this is an attitude issue (My way is the right way and I’m not open to feedback), then you will need to have a conversation about your philosophy and expectations. Whether it’s a skill or attitude issue (or both) you need to be specific about your expectations and then observe and monitor. After coaching and feedback, you can then decide if this hygienist is a keeper.

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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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