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Roles And Responsibilities In A Dental Practice

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This Is A Story About Four Staff Members Named:

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, And Nobody.

If There Was an Important Job to Be Done, Everybody Was Asked to Do It. Everybody Was Sure Somebody Would Do It… Anybody Could Have Done It, But Nobody Did It. Somebody Got Angry About That, Because It Was Everybody’s Job. Everybody Thought Anybody Could Do It. It Ended Up That Everybody Wouldn’t Do It. It Ended Up That Everybody Blamed Somebody When Nobody Did What Anybody Could Have Done.

As Coaches, When we Start Working With a Practice, One Of the Questions we Ask Team Members is “Who’s in Charge of ________”.

Example – Doctor’s Scheduling – Hygiene Scheduling – Insurance – Following Up on Outstanding Treatment – Reactivation- Etc.

If There are Two People at the Front Desk Many Times, the Answer is “We Both Do” If There are Three People at the Front Desk the Answer is “We All Do”.

As Indicated in the Story Above, When We Don’t Have Defined Job Descriptions and Role Responsibilities, The Results are Increase Stress – Frustration – And Chaos.

The Solution: To Have Written Clear Job Descriptions

When Job Descriptions are Specifically Outlined, Your Practice Will Eliminate the Staff Members Named:

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, And Nobody.

The Drama Triangle

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As a new mother, a friend of mine gave me the best piece of advice, “Don’t be a parking lot mother”….GO TO THE SOURCE!

I said, “What’s a parking lot mother?”

She said, “A parking lot mother is someone who drops their four year old off at nursery school, then goes back to the parking lot, and who does she see, but other mothers… then the conversation goes something like this….”

Mother # 1 says to Mother # 2, “I’m having a huge issue with Mrs. Smith (the nursery school teacher). I don’t understand why my little Johnny doesn’t know his numbers”

Mother # 2 says to Mother # 1, “I understand how you feel I have concerns too.
I don’t understand why my little Sally doesn’t know her Alphabets!”
Then mother # 3 joins in and says, “I too am upset with Mrs. Smith. I don’t know why my little Tommy doesn’t know his colors!”

I ask you….. Did anything constructive happen in the PARKING LOT?


Who should they have taken their concerns to?

Answer …Mrs. Smith

Hence don’t be a parking lot mother… GO TO THE SOUCE!

The same scenario happens in a dental practice…We call it THE DRAMA TRIANGLE.

It goes something like this…..

Hygiene #1 says to Hygiene # 2 “I can’t believe how Sharon (the scheduling coordinator) scheduled my day, does she think I have roller skates?”

Hygiene #2 says to Hygiene #1, “I understand exactly how you feel….she does the same thing to me.”

I ask you…..did anything constructive happen from this conversation? NO

Who should Hygiene #1 have taken her concerns to? Sharon

Hence don’t get involved in the Drama Triangle… tell the person to GO TO THE SOURCE!

One way you can stop the drama triangle is to use a simple verbal tool…..when a team member comes to you with a concern about another team member use the following verbiage, “ Tell me ( name ) “ what did “(name) say when you told her about your concerns?”

This verbal skill tells the team member to GO TO THE SOURCE



Are Your Team’s Verbal Skills at Peak Performance?

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Verbal skills can make or break how a patient will react to case presentation, scheduling an appointment or how they feel while in the office. This article gives 3 scenarios of poor verbal skills along with the solution to correct verbal skills.

Scenario 1:

Problem Verbal Skills – Doctor and or Team using minimizing words when talking with patients.

Examples– Basically – Just – Little – Only


“Mrs. Smith BASICALLY you JUST have a LITTLE decay on a tooth on the upper right side. You’re ONLY going to be here 45 minutes.

Solutions – Remove these vague words from your case presentation vocabulary. Use words that “Create a Sense of Urgency”


“Mrs. Smith you have two surfaces of decay on the first molar on the upper right side. I am glad that we can take care of this in the early stages before more tooth structure is involved”
” You can expect your appointment to be approximately 45 minutes.
” I look forward to seeing you on my next available appointment”

Scenario 2:

Problem – Verbal Skills – Patient is asked questions that can have ” NO” as an answer

Example – Using the words…”Do You”

“Do You want to pay today?” Patient Answers “No”
“Do you” As in “Do you want to schedule your next appointment today”?
Patient Answers “No”

Solution – There is a saying in dentistry …” There’s no place to go from the NO…. Use the assumption technique… I am assuming yes unless told no…


Replace “Do you want to pay today? “with” HOW will you be paying today?”
Or, replace “Do you want to schedule your next appointment with “LET’S GET YOU SCHEDULED WITH YOUR NEXT APPOINTMENT”

Scenario 3:

Problem Verbal Skills – When Addressing an Objection.

Example – Finding the correct verbal skills when faced with a patient’s objection – Money & Time

Solutions – FELL-FELT- FOUND


Money- Objection
” I understand how you FEEL Mrs. Smith. Others have FELT the same way. However, what they have FOUND, is that by utilizing Care Credit, they were able to make a comfortable monthly payment that will fit into their budget.”

Time – Objection
” I understand how you FEEL Mrs. Smith. Others have FELT the same way. However, what they have FOUND, is by taking advantage of our 8:00am appointment, they were able to get to work right after completing their treatment.

Protect Yourself from Dental Embezzlement

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How it can Happen:

  1. Payroll checks – hours not worked, vacation & sick days, salary increase, and/or “ghost” employee.
  2. Adjustments – with payments received and/or expense items.
  3. Expense reimbursement – Non-legitimate expenses
  4. Patient Payments – adjusted or not entered, and checks being cashed.
  5. Practice “Dummy” Account – part of checks to deposit going to a second unauthorized checking account. There are thousands of ways this can be done.
  6. Cash payments – reduce the charge amount in the patient’s record but charge the accurate amount.
  7. Write offs – post the charges, but keep cash.
  8. Refunds – written to “fake” or “test” patients.
  9. Computer – payments backdated and/or deleted.
  10. Vendor/Supplier Payments – pay vendor twice and then use refund.


  1. Be the Boss and owner of your practice. No one that is directly involved with you practice on a daily basis is immune to this problem. As an owner, the more involvement you have and strategic systems that are in place prohibit embezzlement.
  2. Know your practice software. Reach out to a practice consulting company to show you how to engage in specific reports to ensure proper handling of adjustments, payments and credits.
  3. Perform audits. Audits should be routinely done and can be password protected in the practice management software to ensure no tampering. Front desk team members should not be able to run these reports.
  4. Cross train employees. Make sure all front desk duties are able to be done by all of your office team.
  5. Disperse duties to more than one person. Don’t let the office manger or one specific person open the mail, make the deposits, or hold petty cash.
  6. All adjustments should be authorized daily by you the owner. A report should be reviewed by the owner daily.
  7. Make sure embezzlement is covered clearly in your employee handbook. If you do not have an employee handbook reach out to a consulting company right away.
  9. Do not have the idea or thoughts that it couldn’t happen to you. Remember over 50% of dentist are embezzled and many that were embezzled thought it would never happen to them.
  10. Surround yourself with dental professionals. If you do not have a thorough monitoring system in place, talk to a consulting company to implement a monitoring system.

Disclaimer : Materials that you will read were prepared for general information purposes and are not intended as legal, tax or accounting advice or as recommendations to engage in any specific transaction. Please consult your own counsel, accountant or other advisor regarding your specific situation.

Want to Take Action?

Email our coach Nancy your concerns and let’s do something about it!
Email: [email protected]

Unprofessional Profession

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I love dentistry….if it wasn’t for the people. It can be a very unprofessional profession to say the least. 80% of the doctors I speak with are upset about PPO’s, swear at the insurance companies, are ashamed of the profession, shout their disapproval with what is happening (Like Delta announcing a reduction in reimbursement)….yet they do absolutely NOTHING to change the situation! Year after year, complaint after complaint, phone call after phone call ….doctors saying the same thing.

Dentists have told me they hate going to work. Attending conferences can hurt as I sit through the conversations about ‘being in network’. Some are still blaming the recession of 2008 and how they had to sign up for every PPO. I know it seems a lot easier to do nothing but it doesn’t make the problem go away.

In fact it’s hurting your bottom line and your physical well being. And the stress it causes within the team because they are working with a frustrated leader is evident both with the team and your patients. So why are the other 20% succeeding and doing so well? They decided ‘enough is enough’, put their money where their mouth is and they have created a strategic plan to determine when the practice can support changing to ‘fee for service’ or at least dropping a majority of PPO’s that are causing them to work twice as hard for half the money. (Picture a hamster running on a wheel) If you’re laughing now, or have decided that you couldn’t possibly drop your PPO’s, you’re probably part of the 80%. Well at least you get your cardio workout each day as you run from op to op, have no lunch and run late every day.

Want to Take Action?

Email our coach Nancy your concerns and let’s do something about it!
Email: [email protected]