Being a dental hygienist requires you to balance multiple priorities constantly. Sometimes, it results in falling behind the schedule. Worry no longer!
We have some top tips to help you stay on time, and ahead of the game!
Having Your Tools Readily Available
When a patient comes in you should already have all of your necessary tools readily available to be used. They should also already be organized and prepared to your liking.
It can appear extremely disorganized to a patient if you are constantly having to leave the operatory in order to get tools or supplies that you should have already had on hand by knowing what the patient was going to be having done that day.
This goes further than just having to leave the operatory in order to gather this equipment. This also means having to consistently get things from inside the operatory that are not within arms reach. Whether this is having to stand up and go through cabinets, or completely turn away from the patient in order to grab things.
Well, this may not seem like a big deal to you it may be adding to the anxiety that a lot of patients already have about the dental office, and making their visit seem more chaotic.
Of course, there are exceptions to this.
Tell The Dentist To Come In Before You Have Completely Finished Their Cleaning
Working as a dental hygienist you have probably already experienced having the dentist running late after you finished your cleaning. There is nothing more awkward than having to sit there with the patient waiting for the dentist to come because you have already completed everything you needed to.
So in order to help compensate for this, we would recommend requesting the dentist about 15 minutes prior to finishing your cleaning. This will allow the dentist some wiggle room if they are in the middle of something else, and it will also allow the most quality visit for your patient as they will not be waiting.
If the dentist comes in before you are fully finished with your cleaning then express to the patient that you are going to let the dentist take a look before you finish the rest of the cleaning. The patient won’t mind this interruption for the dentist arriving, and the dentist will appreciate this accommodation for his time so that he doesn’t keep the patient waiting either.
There will typically never be a time where it will take the dentist more than 15 minutes to arrive, and if there is then it may be due to poor planning, or a dental emergency that needed to be taken care of. Either way, we are sure that they would appreciate the accommodation of you giving them a 15-minute time buffer.
Have Your Operatory Organized To Your Liking
Before, we spoke about having everything that’s needed within arms reach during a patient's visit. This section will be referring to having it organized between patients in order to have the fastest and easiest transition possible.
Our biggest recommendation is to consider multiple tray setups. These will allow you to already have all of your tools sterilized, and in your preferred organizational method available at the beginning of the day for all of your patients.
Of course, there may be times in which you will still have to sterilize additional equipment if you have more patients than you initially anticipated, or do not have enough trays to accommodate all patients. Even doing so in this regard will allow you to sterilize multiple sets of trays at the same time.
Setting these up first thing in the morning will allow you substantially more time throughout the day between patients. It also allows you to have consistent organization by formatting them all in the same method that you prefer.
Understand Your Limitations And Patient Workload
As a dental hygienist, you’re going to be asked to take on more patients pretty frequently. We will always strive to be the best dental hygienist we can, and this typically leads us to try to make every accommodation possible for a request.
However, when it comes to our patient and client workload, it’s important to understand our limitations. You know how long it takes for you to complete a standard patient visit, as well as how long it takes for other dental procedure requests.
You should only accept new patients if you are able to take them on while providing the same high-quality level of care and focus to that new patient. Sometimes this can be finding out our limits as a dental hygienist, and this is especially true for individuals that are in the early stages of their career.
Being overworked can lead to a multitude of issues. Some of these issues can come at the cost of the patient due to you being much more tired after consistently being overworked or can come to your own detriment on your physical and mental health from being consistently overworked.
Find your limits of what you’re able to comfortably work with, and let those days where you feel overworked or have to hop in to help the rest of your team be an exception and not the normal day.
Keep An Eye On The Clock At All Times
This may sound very stressful on the concept, but this will give you multiple benefits. Firstly it will allow you to find your benchmark. Keeping an eye on the clock will allow you to determine how long it takes you to typically get through certain stages of your patient visit. Keeping an eye on the clock will also ensure that you stay on pace in order to not fall behind.
So although it may be something difficult to get used to in the beginning, it will be beneficial to you to focus on the clock during a patient's visit.