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Tips for the Woman-Owned Practice: Time Management

May 1, 2003
Multitasking is a fact of life for most women. As a woman dentist, you are accustomed to multitasking in your work and at home.

Multitasking is a fact of life for most women. As a woman dentist, you are accustomed to multitasking in your work and at home. Setting goals and prioritizing your time based on goals can help you balance your work with the rest of your life. Time management based on your production and establishing team goals within your practice are keys to success.


Setting practice goals with your team and determining training needs for the year are excellent ways to begin time management. You can set your own production goals based on restorative, hygiene, periodontal, and other needs. Some offices include time management for specific procedures in their goal-setting.

Setting your time to match your goals

The technique of procedural time studies determines the exact amount of time that the dentist/dental assistant team requires for a particular procedure. Knowing this makes it easier to schedule. Efficient, well-organized scheduling has allowed offices averaging a four-and-a-half-day workweek to reduce that to a four-day week, or even a three-and-a-half-day week, with a 30 percent increase in production and collection.

Efficient scheduling to meet the needs of the practice, based on concrete goals, is very important. It ensures that dentists can work the fewest number of hours to produce the most in their practices, as well as the most in their households. Review your goals each month with your team to ensure that you are progressing. If necessary, you can alter your goals. Case studies of successful practices demonstrate that measurement of time for procedures is a valuable tool in maximizing scheduling based on goals. Goal-setting goes hand-in-hand with scheduling success, using yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals allocated by provider, dentist, and hygienist. Monitoring goals regularly at staff meetings helps ensure that the practice is reaching its goals.


Productive practices delegate when possible. Sometimes the dentist may be performing procedures that a staff member could do. It may be necessary to assess either the training for team members or the type of equipment used. Depending on your state licensing board and its regulations, some of these procedures could be performed quite effectively by a hygienist, dental assistant, or other dental team members, such as laboratory personnel.

When you delegate jobs to staff members, you are better able to control your practice and schedule time for the other aspects of your life. This checklist may be helpful:

  • Plan future courses of action for staff over a specific period of time.
  • Coordinate job assignments.
  • Implement new ideas.
  • Introduce new services into the practice.
  • Identify ways to be more productive.
  • Increase time for better rapport among yourself, team members, and patients.

Delegation emphasizes the important role of each team member, maximizes the in-office scheduled time, and increases efficiency.

An efficient scheduling model

As an example of the value of scheduling and delegating to time management, think about basic crown preparation in your practice. Most dentists schedule 60 to 90 minutes for this procedure. Invariably, the dentist ends up using that entire appointment for a single patient.

After analyzing more than 6,000 practices, we noted that a tremendous amount of time is wasted. For example, at the initial phase of the crown-and-bridge appointment, dentists may be needed for approximately 20 to 22 minutes. Even with anesthesia, a significant amount of time during that appointment does not require the dentist's attention. During the 30, 40, 50, or 60 minutes of this appointment when the assistant is carrying out legally approved treatment, the dentist should be in another operatory with another patient.

The dentist may only be required to place the impression; fabrication and placement of a temporary crown can be accomplished by the dental assistant (check state laws). These segments of the appointment should be prescheduled according to your documented procedural time studies needed for this type of patient appointment.

It is critical that you take time to plan the type of schedule that works best for you based on both your professional and personal needs. From there, you can easily build an extremely productive schedule that allows you to work the fewest number of days. Enjoy life and your practice U just plan for it to happen and you can have it all — or at least what you schedule!

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Angela M. Pickett, RDH, MAS
Ms. Pickett is vice president of consulting for Levin Group. Through her position, she brings leading edge, strategic business solutions to dental practices worldwide. You may contact Ms. Pickett at (888) 973-0000.

If you would like to learn more about scheduling techniques, contact Levin Group to schedule a no-cost consultation.

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