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Why so many unhappy hygienists?

Social media can be a useful tool to your dental practice. Many dentists are finding it a great way to connect with their patients and bring in new patients. Many people now use it to get their daily news. Today, if you are a dentist, I want you to use it for something else. Go online and read what hygienists are doing and saying. There are Facebook groups dedicated to getting out of hygiene and these groups are BIG. Hygienists on many forums and in many conversations have the same complaints. More is demanded of them for less reward. They spend the same money and time it would have taken to get a nursing degree but many of them don’t get full time work. They certainly don’t get the same benefits that are offered to nurses.
How did we get so many unhappy hygienists? Because we wanted to make our patients happy and we joined all the insurance networks. Suddenly our whole office needs to work harder to get paid. This resulted in shorter appointments and more admin work. That takes a physical toll on the body. It stresses hygienists out and they start to lose morale. So what can you do?
First you can make sure the administrative duties stay with the administrative staff. So many hygienists are reviewing insurance coverage and treatment to make sure they can take x-rays or do fluoride. That should be done before they open the chart. Your admin staff or verification company should have reviewed coverage and frequency and let the hygienist know the answers to the common questions the patient will ask.
Second your assistants should be helping with sterilization, room turn over, treatment planning and x-rays. These are tasks that don’t require a hygiene degree. It gives your hygienist back 5 minutes per appointment. And 5 minutes is huge.
Third, treat them like providers. Pay them like providers. Expect them to work like providers. They need to be educating your patients, they need to let that emergency patient fit into the opening in hygiene and triage the patient. Support expanded duties and further education. It will only improve your practice.