The day care where my child stays charges extra if she is not picked up by 5:45 p.m. There have been times I have had to pay the extra charge.
Dianne Glasscoe, RDH, BS
I am a hygienist in a small general practice. The practice employs three staff members - a front-desk assistant, a chairside assistant, and myself.
The practice is quite busy. Presently, I am booked out three months.
My problem is that I never get to leave on time. Although the office closes at 5 p.m., it usually is 15 to 30 minutes later before the last patient is checked and dismissed. It is at least 5:30 p.m. before I am ready to leave. It bothers me greatly to leave my operatory unkempt at the end of the day, knowing I will have to come back to it that way in the morning.
The day care where my child stays charges extra if she is not picked up by 5:45. There have been times I have had to pay the extra charge. The majority of the time, I literally run out the front door in an effort to make the deadline at the day care.
The front-desk assistant seems indifferent to my dilemma, and the chairside assistant doesn`t have children. Also, it doesn`t seem to matter that I come in 30 minutes early every morning to get ready for my patients.
I really like this office, but being delayed every evening is quite frustrating. What should I do?
Running Red Lights in Richmond
I see two problems here - scheduling and communication. Let`s address them one at a time.
Obviously, your last patient is booked so late that you cannot complete the appointment without going past 5 p.m. An example of this is booking an adult prophylaxis at 4:30 or possibly a periodontal patient that requires anesthesia at 4:15 or 4:20. To solve the scheduling problem, some flexibility should be built into the schedule at the end of the day and just before lunch. If you are scheduled on 10-minute increments, the last 20 minutes of the day should be reserved for such duties as cleaning the operatory, restocking, and preparing for the next day. Therefore, your last appointment for a 40-minute prophylaxis would be at 4 p.m. If you are on a 15-minute increment schedule, the last 15 minutes would be downtime for end-of-day duties.
My feeling is that building some downtime into the schedule is extremely important for both the doctor and the hygienist. Our appointment times are close approximations of needed patient time. However, there are unforeseen occurrences that happen almost daily to throw a kink into the schedule. Having some unbooked time in the daily schedule allows the doctor and the hygienist a few minutes to catch up and finish on time.
The other problem is communication. Quite simply, you need to talk to the doctor. When you were hired, you probably were told what the office hours were. Always having to work 30 minutes extra was not part of the original deal. Your willingness to come in 30 minutes early in the morning is quite commendable. Most dedicated hygienists know the necessity of being organized and prepared. Your employer probably expects that of you. However you should not be expected to pay late charges to your day care. Maybe the doctor would like to pick up those charges the next time they occur ? not!
Even if you did not have the day care dilemma, it is reasonable to expect to leave at quitting time. After all, we all have a life outside of the office. With a few scheduling modifications and a little communication, this problem can be solved in short order.
Good luck ... and stop running red lights!!!
Dianne Glasscoe, RDH, BS, is an adjunct instructor in clinical hygiene at Guilford Technical Community College. She holds a bachelor`s degree in human resource management and is a practice-management consultant, writer, and speaker. She may be contacted by e-mail at dglass[email protected], phone (336) 472-3515, or fax (336) 472-5567.