An honorable second career

I feel compelled to respond to Heidi Emmerling`s July Perspective lambasting practice consultants. I, too, find something repugnant - that is, her description of all consultants as `blood-sucking leeches.` Excuse me, Heidi, but your naivete is showing.

Sep 1st, 1997

Dear RDH:

I feel compelled to respond to Heidi Emmerling`s July Perspective lambasting practice consultants. I, too, find something repugnant - that is, her description of all consultants as `blood-sucking leeches.` Excuse me, Heidi, but your naivete is showing.

Evidently, Ms. Emmerling has had a bad experience somewhere with a consultant. I remember another article she wrote some months back that clearly showed contempt for hygienists who had chosen a different career path in consulting by, as she wrote, "trading their curettes for a briefcase." Since her experience has been so negative, let me list some of the positive things consultants do:

- Help bring doctors who have astronomical accounts receivable learn how to bring and keep accounts in line.

- Function as an objective mediator in staff problems.

- Help reduce office stress levels by custom-designing systems that increase efficiency and effectiveness.

- Help bring life to stagnant or failing practices.

- Train doctor and staff to be better communicators.

These are but a few of the things a consultant can do. Good in-office consultants can be far more helpful to practices than attending a seminar, because they can provide one-on-one training in the areas that need attention.

I have been a practicing hygienist for 20 years, and I love my profession. But due to back problems, my clinical days are numbered. That is why I finished a bachelor`s degree in management with a focus on dental offices. The consulting I have done so far has been every bit as rewarding as clinical hygiene. Ms. Emmerling shouldn`t be so judgmental.

Heidi`s dad sounds like a wonderful person, a professional who has his heart in the right place. And if he`s happy with his practice, he shouldn`t enlist a consultant. But many practices face problems that the doctor feels ill-equipped to handle. Often an outside, objective view is what is needed to bring that practice back to health and, yes, profitability. Ms. Emmerling doesn`t seem to understand that all practices are not profitable. Dental practices are businesses that need to be managed with sound business principles that are not often taught in dental school.

In all fairness, there are some consultants who seem to be too money-oriented. Their philosophies appeal to a segment of doctors who have a heart defect - greed. But please don`t condemn all consultants because of a few bad apples.

Dianne D. Glasscoe, RDH, BS

Thomasville, North Carolina

Editor`s Note: Your points above are well-taken. However, we went back and read the column again. We could not find any universal condemnation of all consultants in the July Perspective column.

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