Thank you Heidi Emmerling for your Perspective on practice consultants (July 1997). My two-doctor, 10-employee office is currently undergoing a five-month scrutiny by a practice consultant who allegedly comes highly recommended. Your article would have some humor if I wasn`t living through this uneasy time at the moment.
I have been a full-time, caring dental hygienist for 30 years (Fones 1967). I have attended many office management seminars by the well-known consultants who travel and teach. I am always interested in the journals and dental magazine articles about better practice management. Every idea I`ve heard from the "leech" I`ve encountered repeatedly before, but he styles it to be his own new thinking. When the team does attend practice management seminars for continuing education, we have never been given the time to evaluate and discuss implementation of some of the better ideas that could work well in our setting. Some of the staff dislike traveling to these sessions, since "the doctors are never going to change a thing."
Now with the consultant`s help, changes are being made. He tells me I should sell more dentistry - when I have always considered what I "sold" was health. The badgering of the patient will not come from me. Our receptionist of two years appears "not suited for the job" and will be replaced. The interviewees were all seen and hired by the consultant without the staff`s knowledge of any shakeup. The morale in the office is low. Who could get terminated next?
It would have been much better to first try to utilize the current staff`s ideas and suggestions. We have 122 years of dental office experience between us and much love for this office and our patients. We certainly could have suggested changes we see as pressing, innovative, workable, and, most importantly, productive. But the doctors never "consulted" us.
Northeast Connecticut hygienist
Editor`s Note: We had a little debate about publishing this letter. Technically, our policy is, if an "anonymous" letter is signed and an address is provided, we`ll publish it. Obviously, the letter writer above is concerned about job security in a very stressful work environment. Her letter does provide a nice counterpoint to Dr. Ousborne`s above. So we are publishing the letter. It is troublesome, though, that a dentist would openly reveal his identity in a dental hygiene publication while a hygienist hides behind the cloak of anonymity. Needless to say, it is our preference that readers who write letters-to-the-editor do permit us to print their names.