Thursday Troubleshooter: How to handle retired dentist who can’t let go?

This dental team's time is being taken away from the practice by the retired dentist, who returns frequently to have the staff do things for him. How can they kindly ask him to stop?

Nov 15th, 2018
Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2018 11 Retired Dentist 1

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QUESTION: How do you approach the retired dentist who sold the practice and now finds his life unfulfilled? He comes back into the office unannounced and has the staff doing personal tasks, such as typing letters, faxing, and more. Or he sits in the private office and makes phone calls. Please help us!

ANSWER FROM CHRIS SALIERNO, editor of Dental Economics:
Oh, boy. Well, this is why we have attorneys. A well-planned transitions agreement would outline how the outgoing senior dentist can use your facility after he or she departs. When it’s in writing, it’s a lot easier to enforce. But let’s assume you don’t have anything in writing . . . now what?

You should have a private conversation with the dentist about ceasing his intrusive behavior. It’s a delicate conversation, so I recommend being kind but direct. “We love having you around Dr. Senior, but we need to free up the team’s time to focus on patient care.”

You might be tempted to offer a compromise, such as allowing him to use the office after hours. However, I think you need to be firmer about curbing this behavior.

If you want to add a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, consider throwing the retired dentist a farewell party. This is a great move for any transition, but it could also help get you some definitive closure with him. Invite your favorite patients to an office party and create some fanfare around his departure. Good luck!

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