Thursday Troubleshooter: What to do about perpetually late dentist?

This team has had it with their boss who is always late. They barely get a lunch break and work late every day, and patients have left when they tire of waiting for the dentist's checkup. What can the team do?

Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2015 01 Dental Team Overtime 1
QUESTION: Our dentist is a very poor time manager. He’s never in the office before 8:15, yet our first patients are scheduled for 8 a.m. He consistently runs behind because he works emergencies into each day, but without leaving emergency flex time in our busy day. Patients have actually walked out of hygiene appointments without an exam because the dentist keeps them waiting so long. We rarely have more than a 20-minute lunch break, and we work past 6 p.m. even though office hours are supposed to end at 5 p.m. Because we’re on the clock, the dentist feels this overtime is OK, regardless of the fact that 80% of our team members have family duties they need to get home to. We have brought this up before, and he gets a little better for a while, then we go right back to square one. What can we do?

Thank you. Sign me, Ready to Quit

ANSWER FROM LINDA MILES, Founder of Speaking Consulting Network:
I feel your pain! This is a serious issue that many dental practices deal with. Besides being a leadership issue, this is rude and a very bad habit. You certainly need to let your doctor know that people count up the faults of those who keep them waiting. You need to document the number of times patients complain or walk out. Being consistently tardy shows little consideration for patients and coworkers. While it is your doctor's practice and he's entitled to call the shots, I can guarantee he would fire employees or patients who consistently waste his time.

As a side note, being on time to see patients and leading the team well are great marketing techniques. You can say in your marketing messages, "We see many busy patients each day. We truly value their time and are proud of our on-time record of effective scheduling and time management." This is one of the most common complaints in healthcare – patients who are kept waiting. If you can get to where you are on time 85% of the time, congratulations are in order! Use that to your advantage.

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Send your questions for the experts to answer. Responses will come from various consultants associated with Speaking Consulting Network, Academy of Dental Management Consultants, or Dental Consultant Connection. Their members will take turns fielding your questions on DentistryIQ, because they are very familiar with addressing the tough issues. Hey, it's their job.

Send your questions to megk@pennwell.com. All inquiries will be answered anonymously every Thursday here on DIQ.

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