How to fight stress in the dental practice with systems and training

July 11, 2016
Dr. Roger P. Levin
Dr. Roger P. Levin
Dr. Roger P. Levin

Dr. Roger P. Levin is the CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental management consulting firm. Founded in 1985, Levin Group has worked with over 30,000 dental practices. Dr. Levin is one of the most sought-after speakers in dentistry and is a leading authority on dental practice success and sustainable growth. Through extensive research and cutting-edge innovation, Dr. Levin is a recognized expert on propelling practices into the top 10 percent. He has authored 65 books and over 4,000 articles on dental practice management and marketing. He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Time magazine and is the creator of the Levin Group Tip of the Day, which has over 30,000 subscribers. To contact Dr. Levin, visit www.levingroup.com or email rlevin@levingroup.com.

Stress is so prevalent for practice owners and teams, you may think it’s an unavoidable occupational hazard. In fact, though it can’t be eliminated completely-there will always be “challenging” days at the office-you can radically reduce stress and the negative feelings, fatigue and general dissatisfaction it can cause.

The financial pressures and uncertainties brought about by the Great Recession and disappointing recovery certainly elevated stress levels for dentists. But there was already a strong undercurrent of tension in most dental practices across the country.

Stress is so prevalent for practice owners and teams, you may think it’s an unavoidable occupational hazard. In fact, though it can’t be eliminated completely-there will always be “challenging” days at the office-you can radically reduce stress and the negative feelings, fatigue and general dissatisfaction it can cause.

To do so, you need to identify and then minimize the stressors that are affecting you and your staff. Here are some guidelines for an effective stress reduction program at your practice:

More from the author: The biggest mistakes dentists make: Not scripting all patient interactions

Replace your management systems with “new and improved” models.

Any administrative, financial, customer service or marketing protocols you haven’t overhauled completely in the past three years are probably causing a tremendous amount of stress in your office. As time passes and conditions change-both in your practice and externally-the less efficient your existing systems will be. You and your team members may come up with tweaks, workarounds and patchwork fixes, but these modifications can’t preserve system efficiency indefinitely. Sooner or later, bottlenecks will become entrenched and frustration will increase. Initially designed to make tasks around the office easier, less time-consuming and more cost-effective, systems that have become obsolete have the opposite effects. They impede workflow rather than facilitating it, and this produces stress for everyone… even your patients in some cases.

The solution (which many practice owners try to avoid or postpone as long as possible because they realize it will require a considerable amount of effort) is to replace all your essential systems. Start with a blank slate and create ideal, high-performance systems from the ground up. You’ll want to involve the whole team, getting ideas and ultimate buy-in from those who will actually be using the new systems. This will spread the workload, improve the results and ease the implementation process.

More from the author: Is it time for your to make over your dental practice?

Levin Group consulting clients can bring excellent new systems on-stream relatively quickly thanks to the guidance provided by our experts. If you’ve chosen a do-it-yourself approach, I recommend you create and implement improved systems one at a time. Most practices should start with scheduling, because it has such a strong influence on all practice protocols. You and your team will experience noticeably less stress as soon as your high-performance scheduling system is up and running.

 

Continue to page two for more strategies for fighting stress in the dental practice...

 

Establish a robust team training program

Many dentists complain of stressful frustration about their team’s performance. Yet the primary reason-aside from faulty systems-that team members fall short of the practice owner’s expectations is that they are poorly trained. By providing comprehensive, individualized and ongoing training programs for staff members, you will make it possible for your team to perform at a much higher level of proficiency. This will eliminate one of the root causes of daily stress and also make it easier for you to confidently delegate all non-clinical responsibilities-freeing you up to perform more dentistry and increase production. In other words, staff training can also alleviate any financial stress you may be feeling.

More from the author: The biggest mistakes dentists make: Keeping staff memebers who are poor performers

There are other ways to reduce stress, but these two alone can transform your practice from a place of frustration into one of productivity and energizing satisfaction.

Would your practice benefit from consulting? Levin Group consulting programs-in management, marketing, or a combination of both-are based on our unique systems-targets-training methodology. They give teams the tools needed to excel. For more information, click here.