What if Your Hygienist Leaves?

It’s probably happened at least once in your career. You have a fabulous hygienist on board that is proactive, organized and just gets things done. The hygiene department is moving along nicely. It’s productive and serving patients at a high level. Then WHAM! Out of the blue, your hygienist decides to leave. Whether for professional or personal reasons, this happens from time to time. The good news is all your hygiene protocols CAN stay in place when that hygienists leaves. Providing you’ve completed a few critical steps.

Step 1 – Create a clear Standard of Care-Be sure to have clear standards for everything from how often periodontal diagnostic data will be collected to when you recommend adult fluoride (or other preventive products). Include how you define health versus disease and when you move a patient into active perio treatment. To get you started go to www.InspiredHygiene.com/standardofcare and download a Standard of Care template.

Step 2 – Write it Down-You’ve heard the phrase ‘If it’s not documented, it never happened’. This applies here too. You can talk ‘til your blue in the face but if you don’t develop your standards as a group and write them down, then each team member will create their own. We see this all the time, especially in teams of 3+ hygienists. Each one is doing something different. We help them all get calibrated and create written protocols and systems.

Step 3 – Be Clear When You Hire-When you’re interviewing a new hygienist, present them with your Standard of Care and your perio protocol. Be very clear that you expect them to uphold what’s in place and you can also say ‘And we hope you’ll make this program even stronger’. This gives room for the next hygienist to add his/her own knowledge to your existing program.

I’m assuming that you have a proactive, written perio diagnosis and treatment system in place that is up-to-date and comprehensive. If not, maybe the next hygienist really can take it to the next level. You just never want to go backwards.

Step 4 – Check In-Let your team know that you’ll do periodic chart audits to help keep everyone accountable. Go through 5-10 charts every few months to ensure that the standards are being implemented. And if they’re not, find out what obstacles are in the way and work to clear them.

For example, it might be that you agreed to take one intra-oral photo on every patient but there’s only one IOC in the practice and it’s difficult to get it all set up and ready to use. This is an obstacle.

Step 5 – Track it and Celebrate Your Success-keep track of how well you’re upholding your standards and celebrate your team! If you have a new hygienist that has stepped in and picked right up on your perio protocol, point that out and acknowledge them…big time!

Stay Inspired,

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