Romance in the dental practice ... what is and is not allowed?

Slowly creeping near two decades in dentistry, I have witnessed many dental practices hit with various types of "in office" romance. Unfortunately, through hard knocks such as the loss of a key team member, office reputation issues, turnover, and, even in rare cases, lawsuits, I have seen things deteriorate rapidly. If asked, the "hard way" is not the optional way. In hindsight, if given a chance to prevent this from happening, the business owners would jump at the chance to have defined guidelines in place.

Office romances have a plethora of mixed experiences for many, and it often depends on what side of the romance you are on. The reason for this mix of results can be defined with two areas: transparency and office policies.

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Whether you are hiring, firing, or communicating in the office, transparency is imperative. An office romance in full swing can’t be a secret … because it's not going to stay a secret for long. Words like favoritism, partiality, preference, or even bias will start creeping in the communication of the team as well as becoming a part of office culture. Be transparent with your team.

Office Policies

With written policies about patient, team, and doctor relationships in place, any type of romance can stay checked at the door and the business can thrive without the toxicities of the personal and professional relationship waters getting muddled.

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Let's be real … dentistry is no different from any other business in this world. In the majority of businesses, it is against office guidelines to have interoffice relationships. It's not a rule that is to prevent you from finding true love, but rather a common guideline that prevents employees from ever being judged on anything other than performance.

Spending 8-10 hours a day together all week, often times your work becomes your social life and feelings can easily escalate if written policies are not clearly defined and reviewed as needed. Business owners hold the keys to making these decisions and placing them on paper prior to ever having to face the unchartered water of interoffice romance and patient romance.

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